Blog: Brexit: Wales’ EU citizens behind in applications to stay – BBC News

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Image caption People in Wales are behind in those in England in terms of applications

EU citizens in Wales are behind the rest of the UK in applying to stay after Brexit, official figures show.

About 63% of the 80,000 EU citizens thought to be living in Wales have applied to remain here, compared to 84% in England.

Wales’ Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles has said there is a “seemingly high proportion of people being granted pre-settled rather than settled status”.

The Home Office has been asked to comment.

The figures are published by the House of Commons Library.

Romain Sacré, 30, moved to Wales from France in 2013 and has studied and worked in the country since.

At the end of last year he married a Welsh woman and now wants to start a family.

Image caption Romain Sacré moved to Wales in 2013

But he said he was given pre-settled status when he applied, despite having been in Wales longer than the five years needed to qualify for settled status.

“It is really stressful, there is a potential gap in my history in Britain when I’ve been living here all that time, been studying, been working, been paying my taxes,” he said.

Latvian national Evija Upeniece, 52, spent eight months applying and re-applying for settled status before being granted it earlier this month.

Image caption Evija Upeniece runs a cafe in Milford Haven

She has lived in Wales since 2005 but was also initially granted pre-settled status, she runs a cafe in Milford Haven with her partner Mark Woodward, who helped her appeal the decision.

He described the process as “demoralising”.

“You’re constantly thinking will this piece of paper suffice… will they want more afterwards and it’s that constant uncertainty that you don’t know and that’s what creates the stress,” Mr Woodward added.

The charity Settled, which helps EU nationals in the UK apply for settled status, has urged people who feel they are entitled to full settled status but who have been granted pre-settled status to appeal the decision by providing more documentation.

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Media captionBBC reporter Helene Daouphars (who is French) looks at how to apply for settled status

They said pre-settled status is a “lesser status” with “various restrictions” including not being able to leave the country for more than six months.

EU nationals with pre-settled status can stay in the UK for a further five years, at which point they can apply to change this to settled status, so long as they can prove they have lived in the UK continuously.

An immigration lawyer said it was often a struggle to find evidence acceptable to the Home Office when helping EU nationals apply for settled status.

Image caption Hillary Brown fears there will be a hostile environment towards EU nationals

Hillary Brown said legal representatives fear there may be a hostile environment towards EU nationals, similar to that of the Windrush generation.

She said: “We have lots of clients who’ve come and done seasonal work, clients who’ve come and done low paid work where the pay is not even enough to pay tax and national insurance.

“We’ve had people come to the United Kingdom to join partners where they’ve had no work and they’ve not claimed any benefits or they’ve not gone into education or there’s not been an audit paper trail of what they’ve been doing so they’re going to find it very difficult to prove that they’re here in the United Kingdom for whatever period of time.”

Watch the full report on BBC One Wales on Wednesday 29 January at 22:30 GMT or watch back on the BBC iPlayer.

Source: “brexit” – Google News

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