“I kiss my son good night on skype every night. I miss being there for my wife when she has to stay up all night trying to put him to sleep” says Nitin S. (name changed) a 34 year old Indian national who is married to Deepali a Portuguese national living in the UK. The couple have a child aged 2 who Nitin has not seen much in the last 6 months.
Nitin’s is not a unique case, he joins a large number of non EU/EEA national spouses who have applied to join their EU/EEA national spouses who are legally living and working in the UK.
When it comes to situations like these, uncertainty is worse than refusal. An EEA family permit refusal would indicate that another step needs to be taken. A new plan may begin. However, having no concrete answer (no EEA family permit refusal nor an approval) leads to great emotional turmoil. There is an increasing uncertainty on the outcomes of the entry clearance applications of EEA family members who have applied to join their immediate family in the UK. Visa applications which have seen a rise post the Brexit announcements remain ‘stuck’ in processing for as long as 6 months now. A heart wrenching moment has been instilled in the applicant’s and their family lives. Over the time, it has become an emotional wound they sustain in their daily life.
With moist eyes Nitin tells us, “All authorities have turned deaf ears to our condition and lifestyle. With the incessantly uncountable number of paid enquiries made to the Home Office, emails to the Home Office, communications made to Minister of Parliament in UK, all the efforts and hopes have made a slow death and have simply gone in vain. The United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) customer contact centers are unable to provide any insights to applicants who are willing to shell out Home Office fees of GBP 5 for sending an email to check their visa status.”
Most applicants receive standard emails stating: “Thank you for your email below regarding your entry clearance application. Please accept our apologies for the delay in processing your application and any inconvenience this has caused. You have been informed that the assessment of your application has not been straightforward and as is subject to extended checks. This may mean that we hold the application for longer than normal, but in some cases it is essential that we do so…” For the visa applicants this is legalese for we have no idea and it almost seems like saying this is not important to us. The least now one can expect is a conclusion to their applications filed 5-6 month back which may give a little hope about the status of their application.
Why, even after the formal announcement of the BREXIT, such inactions are causing tremendous procedural delays? Why have there been no further guidelines issued as to what this wait is supposed to mean? The Home Office guidelines clearly state the actual prescribed timeline to process entry clearance applications for EEA family permit as 90 days to process 100% EEA Family Permit applications. The applications have gone past the stipulated time and yet no competent authority is able to address the unexplained and horrific delay. We can’t fathom the fact that just because there has been a sudden change in the UK political establishment with the EU telling Britain to ‘settle the accounts’ and speed up Brexit progress that it would have direct and major repercussion on the right to have a family life.
There are speculations that all this is being done on purpose and is intentional that the whole idea of Brexit was to remove non EU nationals from their roots in one move. We understand the need for scrutiny and thorough enquiry for the applicants, yet it is blatantly implausible to believe that ALL applications are being put at rest under the roof of darkness.
It is sad yet true that nobody is ready to shoulder or acknowledge the situation being faced by the families being separated and the mental instability they are causing to each individual’s life every day. The newly- wed couples have lost the most precious time of their life by staying apart and are left with only one option: to stay connected through web. Ironically yet our UK and EU laws emphasize on “genuine relationships”. The fact that they have put such a swift halt is itself deteriorating personal life and liberty of the people.
Whilst it is understandable to pursue immigration control to ensure that the national security interest of the member states are not compromised, we urge the Entry Clearance officer to consider and put greater reliance on ECJ’s judgment in Metock and Others v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  QB 318, a case decided under Directive 2004/38. “…. The right of all Union citizens to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States should, if it is to be exercised under objective conditions of freedom and dignity, be also granted to their family members, irrespective of nationality…. As long as the beneficiaries of the right of residence do not become an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State they should not be denied entry.”
In utmost hopefulness, we plead the competent authorities to not disregard this serious issue and expedite the outcome of the pending EEA family permit UK applications.
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