A Spanish woman, Maria, was forcibly removed from the UK after returning from a holiday near Málaga, Spain. She presented Brexit paperwork to border officials in an attempt to prove her right to live and work in the UK. Despite presenting the documentation, she was detained overnight at Luton airport on December 26 and informed that her Home Office documents were not valid.
Maria expressed her shock at the situation, stating that she was taken to the detention room, had her belongings and phone taken away, and was left there all night before being put on a plane. She also mentioned that being deported from the UK has had a significant impact on her life as she was supposed to be back at work and start a veterinary nursing apprenticeship, which she can now miss out on due to the deportation.
Alistair Strathern, the Labour MP for Mid Bedfordshire, expressed his intention to seek answers from the Home Office about the case. It was revealed that Maria had made a late application for the EU settlement scheme in 2023, and her application was rejected due to insufficient evidence. However, she had requested an administrative review and possessed a certificate of application (CoA) from the Home Office, allowing her to work in the UK until a decision was reached on her settlement scheme application.
The Home Office clarified that the issue revolves around providing evidence of the right to be in the UK under the withdrawal agreement, not the right to work. They stated that a certificate of application does not grant an EU citizen the right to travel in and out of the country freely, and border officials are entitled to request additional evidence of residence before December 2020, as presenting a certificate of application is not sufficient evidence.
While Maria seeks legal advice, Strathern emphasizes the importance of border officials acting within the law to maintain public confidence in border security. The Home Office asserts that border officials make decisions based on the information provided by the passenger, not their nationality, prioritizing the safety and security of the borders. The case serves as a reminder of the complexities and challenges associated with post-Brexit travel and immigration.
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