WARNING: Political rant ahead.
I will try and not make this a habit, but this rant was too long for Twitter and most of my Facebook friends are French-speaking Canadians with a very limited idea of what Brexit is and what it entails for foreigners living in the UK so… here I am.
Yesterday morning, I stumbled upon a Twitter thread where foreigners currently living the UK – mostly EU nationals but also some American and Australian citizens – were sharing their plans to move back ‘home’ before 2019. The thread was born after a Dutch citizen tweeted about having to leave his wife, kids and dogs and move back to the Netherlands to find work since British companies refused to hire him. This man has lived in the UK for over 25 years.
I can’t put in words how much this angers me. It shows just uncertain and out of hand this whole Brexit thing has become, and how badly the current political climate is affecting the UK (and other countries members of the European Union).
Why is the British government so set on making life harder for all of us, foreigners?
I was detained for over an hour at the airport a couple weeks ago. I was entering the country on a perfectly valid visa so they had no reason to arrest me, but they still confiscated my passport and residence permit, and told me that I was liable to being brought into detention for an undetermined period of time…
All of this because I wasn’t born in the country I chose to live in.
I suspect the Entry Clearance officers only let me go because I boldly rang my solicitor right in front of them and my British citizen of a husband was ready to pounce on the phone had they decided to take me away.
As most of you know, I was recently refused a visa for the only reason that Edward and I hadn’t lived together for exactly 24 months so our relationship was deemed not ‘genuine and subsisting’. We have lived together for a little over 23 months and have been together for nearly three years, but none of this matters to the Home Office. So we got married** and reapplied as a married couple.
[ ** I’d like to point out here that Edward and I didn’t ‘marry for the visa’. Our wedding was planned for later in the year but we had to change our plans at the last minute to allow me to remain in the country whilst our application was being reviewed. This is not how we had imagined getting married, but we are very happy of how it turned out. I’ll write about this more in detail soon.** ]
In the meantime, we started looking at other avenues in case I was refused again and it only highlighted how unfair the British immigration system really is. After filling a short online survey on the Canadian immigration website, Edward was invited to apply to become a permanent resident; he could also benefit from an express entry visa and a work permit – all for a modest $800, so about one fourteenth of the amount I have spent since December to remain in the UK.
So why don’t we move to Canada?
Why should we have to move to a foreign country (because of language requirements we’d have to exile ourselves to one of the English-speaking provinces), lose our job stability, financial security and support network? Our life in Canada would be a very difficult one; where here my skills (I speak five languages and work as a translator but have a background in social care) are appreciated and even sought after, I could barely work as a cashier back home.
My case is not unique: millions of skilled foreign nationals will be either deported or chose to leave because of the pressure put on them. Of the people sharing their stories on that thread was a hotel manager who worries about losing his employees after Brexit because there are not enough British workers to fill in for them. I’m fairly certain that this case is not unique either…
In my humble opinion, Brexit is totally absurd. We have to do something to stop it, or at least make it less of a mess regarding economy and immigration.
There is not much we can do, but there are still a few things worth trying:
- Write to your MPs, MEPs, Lords, etc. You can find them here and you can find letter templates here and there.
- Sign as many petitions as you can. You can do just that here, here, here, here and there or find more on petitions.parliament.uk.
- You can also sign the CANZUK petition to promote the free movement of citizens between Commonwealth countries.