Spain: British expats face threat of return to UK warns expert
And Hugh Elliott, the UK’s ambassador to Spain, has said he is “delighted” by the news, which he predicted would come as a huge boost for the hundreds of thousands of Britons who live in the country. More than one million UK nationals live in EU and EFTA countries, with the figure for Spain standing at 381,448, according to figures published by Spain’s Permanent Immigration Observatory at the end of last year.
The extra cash – which comes on top of £3 million already allocated by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) earlier this year – will go towards providing practical support for UK nationals living in the EU.
Included are at-risk categories including pensioners and disabled people.
Money from the United Kingdom Nationals Support Fund (UKNSF) is allocated in Spain via three charities: Age in Spain, Babelia and the International Organisation for Migration (IMO).
Boris Johnson’s Government is offering support to UK expats living in the EU27 – including Spain
UK expats last year on the Costa del Sol
Mr Elliott said: “I am delighted that more funding has been provided to Age in Spain, Babelia and IOM through the UK Nationals Support Fund.
“These organisations provide vital support to UK Nationals who need additional help with their residency application in Spain, so I urge any UK Nationals who are struggling with the process to contact them for help.”
Speaking last month, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “These organisations are doing vital work to support UK Nationals in the EU and this funding will help secure their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, so that they are given the security and stability they need.
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
“Now that the UK has left the EU, some UK nationals living in certain EU member states will need to take actions to secure their residency rights, so that they can continue to live and work in their host country as now.”
For UK ex-pats living in Spain, Brexit has brought considerable uncertainty.
Speaking last month, Sue Wilson, chair of the campaign group Bremain in Spain, warned thousands were at risk of deportation with the Spanish authorities poised to enforce post-Brexit visa rules.
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Spanish expats prepare to to celebrate the Royal wedding in 2011
More than 380,000 UK expats were living in Spain at the end of last year according to official figures
In accordance with the 2019 Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Britons living in Europe were offered the chance to register to maintain their residence and rights to continue living in the bloc – but Mrs Wilson said many had not done so.
She told the Guardian: “These are people who have been flying under the radar for a long time when they should have registered their residence in the country and didn’t for whatever reason.
“If they are unable to prove they were resident before December 31 and get entitlement to remain in Spain, they now face a 90-day deadline to leave the country.
“Many are still planning to do the same and think the Spanish will either turn a blind eye or will take time to get their act together to enforce the law.
Spain’s top tourist destinations
“But they are kidding themselves. These rules are rules that have applied to third-country nationals for years and the Spanish authorities have no catching up to do.”
Britons living in Spain are now required to prove they have a minimum income of £2,000 per month, and even more for families.
Pensioner Eric Anderson said even after coronavirus travel restrictions were lifted, his time in his second home in Spain would be limited in accordance with the new system.
He added: “I feel badly let down.
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“We paid a mortgage for 20 years to have a holiday home and a retirement bolt-hole for the winter.
“We’re limited to just 90 days now, and that’s not just for Spain, but anywhere we go in Europe on holiday.
“Say we cross from Newcastle to the Netherlands, that’s counted.
“So you’re already being restricted by time to come back into the UK.”