Brexit – concerned Europeans seek advice from CAB
Shetland Islands Citizens Advice Bureau has seen “a steady stream” of European people coming through its door on the back of the Brexit vote.
The centre in Lerwick has been offering advice to people on how to apply for permanent residency in the UK and how to apply for citizenship.
Volunteer Margaret Fiddy is a specialist advisor for immigration questions.
She said the local CAB branch has a level one licence from the Office of the Immigration Services Commisioner – offering basic advice to those who need support.
“EU citizens are advised when they have been here legally for five years to apply for permanent residence,” she said.
“People are realising they don’t have it and they are asking for help to fill in an 85-page form.
“You get that when you prove to the Home Office you have been here legally for five years. It’s a bit of a daunting form with 85 pages and the fee for that is £65 each.
“If you have a wife and three children it’s five times £65.”
People wanting to apply for British citizenship need a permanent residency card, she said. They also need to show they can speak English and pass a Life in the UK test.
“It’s a bit like going to see the doctor, everybody’s symptoms are slightly different,”Ms Fiddy added.
“Unless you have established what the question is you can’t sensibly answer it.”
Ms Fiddy said if people were here illegally or if they had some complaint with the Home Office, CAB could refer them to specialist immigration solicitors.
Bureau manager, Karen Eunson, said: “We want to reassure people that their rights are not affected overnight. It is likely that some laws will change in the future but this will not happen immediately. If you’re an EU citizen living in Shetland, your rights to live, work or get benefits won’t change until such time as the government passes new laws.
“If you’re a UK citizen living in the EU or travelling to the EU, your rights won’t change yet either. You don’t need to take any action now. Changes to the law will be announced before they happen, so you’ll have time to prepare if you’re affected.”
Anyone with concerns can contact CAB on 01595694696.