Some British expats living in Spain have been given just 15 days to leave the country or face being classified as ‘illegal’ after their Spanish residency applications were rejected.
Anne Hérnandez, head of the group Brexpats in Spain, which helps Brits in the country, told The Local Spain on Thursday that this is something many are experiencing post-Brexit.
According to documents obtained by the newspaper, the country’s immigration officials have been informing British nationals who applied for residency in Spain under the withdrawal agreement that they must leave the country within 15 days after they were denied residency.
The document stated, “You will be advised that, unless you have a qualifying document to stay in Spain, you must leave the Spanish territory within 15 days from the notification of this resolution, unless exceptional circumstances occur and you justify that you have sufficient means, in which case you may extend your stay up to a maximum of ninety days.
“Once the indicated period has elapsed without the departure being made, the provisions of the Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11, will be applied for the cases of being irregularly in the Spanish territory (article 53.1.a of the cited Organic Law 4/2000).”
Under Spanish law, anyone considered to be in Spain illegally post-Brexit can be fined up to €10,000, face deportation from the country and be banned from the Schengen area for up to five years.
Hérnandez, who was recently awarded an MBE for her services to Brits in Spain told The Local, that she was unaware of the 15-day deadline and had been contacted by a number of desperate expats concerned about their residency rights.
She said, “We don’t have exact figures of how many people are affected but I know of several cases around Málaga.
“Applications are mostly being rejected on the grounds of insufficient evidence of legally residing in Spain in 2020, such as a padrón (electoral roll), medical insurance or other proof people were actually living here before 2021."
“It’s scary stuff when you consider that British applicants might have sold up in the UK to buy their dream home here, shipped all their furniture and belongings over and their pets – what do they do?”
Anyone who does have their Spanish residency application turned down can still appeal and there are several organisations that are available to help including Age in Spain, Babelia and IOM.
However, Ms Hernández said: “But if they ask for a document such as medical insurance dating back from 2020 and they can’t provide it, they risk the application being rejected again.”
Alicia Gárate, from IOM (International Organisation for Migration), said there were “two appeal processes for rejected residency applications which each have to be completed within a month.”
She said: “It’s important for UK nationals to know that if their residency application is rejected and they appeal, then they have the right to remain in Spain during the appeal process.”
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