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A woman who has been paying taxes for last 30 years fired over post-Brexit rules

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The woman, born in Spain but residing in the UK since she was 11, unable to prove that she has right to work here.

Last June 30 was the deadline for community residents in the United Kingdom to request EU Settled Status to avoid being classified as illegal within the country, as a result of the latest modifications derived from Brexit. 

Many will have succeeded and many others will have been left out. The latter is the case of a woman, born in Spain but living in England for practically her entire life, who at the age of 45 has been seriously affected by these new regulations: she has been fired from her job as she cannot prove that she has the right to work in the country.

As reported by ‘The Guardian‘, the woman has been in the country for 44 years, arriving as an eleven-month-old baby. She has never left the UK. Since learning about the new rules of the game, she has tried to contact the Home Office more than a hundred times, but has never been able to speak to an advisor. 

After submitting the documentation to obtain “settled status”, she has been left out after her application got stuck somewhere, among the nearly half a million cases that Interior has not yet been able to process. This woman in question is also the main source of income for her household, with two children to support.

They asked me to prove that I came into the UK legally.

“We’ve seen this time and again when people with pending EUSS applications were asked to take unpaid leave, or were turned down from employment,” said Dora-Olivia Vicol, CEO of the Work Rights Centre.

In this particular case, the woman was summoned to a meeting by her company, a residential care organization, on June 28; It was at this meeting that the managers of the company discovered that she did not have the documentation proving her right to work in the country.

The woman was asked to prove that she had “legally” entered the country. 

“It was like they were accusing me of coming here on the back of a lorry, but I came here as a baby,” explains the woman. 

“They asked me whether I could provide evidence that I had the right to work in the UK; I’ve been paying tax and national insurance here for almost 30 years. I was very upset – there were lots of tears on my side,” she laments. 

After this meeting, the woman requested “settled status” in the European Union, on June 30, the deadline for proceeding with this procedure. However, she was unable to complete the digital application, so she had to do a complex paper application and submit her birth certificate.

“I’ve been trying every day to get through to the Home Office resolution centre, between 10 and 20 times a day. All I get is a recorded message saying: ‘We’re too busy to take your call’.”

“Because I’ve been in this country all my life, I didn’t think I would have any problems,” says the woman, whose husband and two children have British nationality. 

She believes she is not eligible for unemployment benefits because she cannot prove she has the right to be in the UK.

“My mother-in-law is helping with food. The bills aren’t being paid, I can’t drive because I only have half a tank of petrol left. I’m already overdrawn by £235,” she said. 

The woman is already in the red, with a debt of more than £200.

The hardest thing she has had to deal with has been detaching herself from her job, separating herself from the people she cared for at the residence. 

‘The Guardian’ has contacted a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, who has explained that more than five million requests for this status have been accepted. 

“Anyone who applied to the scheme by the 30 June deadline, but has not had a decision, has their rights protected until their application is decided. This is set out in law,” a Home Office spokesperson explained.

Dora-OIivia Vicol, for her part, has indicated that they are trying to help resolve these situations, without much success. 

“Home Office staff recommended that we call again in two weeks’ time, but this still leaves her, and others like her, in a highly vulnerable situation,” she says. 

“Employers rarely take the time to read through to the Home Office supporting guidance, that specifies the process for outstanding applications – instead they run out of patience. The hostile environment has created a culture of fear, where risk-averse employers are overreacting in their right to work checks.”

Photo by Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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