‘I first came to the UK in 1995 and settled here in 1999. I was living here for a long time but due to family circumstances I had to go back to Greece. My wife and children are naturalised British Citizens. We were still in Greece when Brexit happened. I wanted to return to the UK with my family and I applied on the Home Office website. This is where our problems started. We submitted the documents and it said there was an option where we could wait for the decision in the UK.
‘We returned to the UK (I entered as a visitor) but it was such a stressful situation waiting for the decision. I was off work for a long time and our credit cards were filling up, which caused big problems for us. The Home Office dragged out the decision for so long and on the very last day of the six months they refused it. We couldn’t afford to pay for a solicitor so we tried to get help elsewhere. The deadline for appealing the decision was running out, but eventually we were referred to the Law Centre.
‘The first thing Sabira did was to check that I was eligible and then she went through all the different options with me. She said it would be better to start a new application rather than appealing the previous decision because then I would be able to work whilst I was waiting for a decision from the Home Office.
‘She did everything for me. I brought all my documents to the Law Centre and she went through everything to check what was relevant for the Home Office. She knew exactly what to do. It took almost six months for the decision to come through but as soon as we submitted the application, I received a certificate of application, which allowed me to do everything in the UK, like work, use the NHS, access benefits until I received a decision on my application. It was such a relief.
Antonius* is a Greek national. He had been living in the UK for a number of years but was in Greece at the time of Brexit. His family were all naturalised British citizens whilst they were living in the UK and he did not need to do this being an EEA national prior to Brexit. Due to issues surrounding applying for an EEA family permit as a ‘family member of a qualifying British Citizen’ from abroad, Antonius had his application refused. When he and his family had returned to the UK, he applied again with the support of our EUSS caseworker and was granted pre-settled status.
*Name has been changed.