Only Half the Slovenes Living in UK Register to Stay after Brexit (Feature)

By , 29 Jan 2020, 09:19 AM Lifestyle
Only Half the Slovenes Living in UK Register to Stay after Brexit (Feature) Wikimedia - [email protected] CC-by-SA-2.5

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STA, 28 January 2020 - Roughly half of some 5,000 Slovenians living in the UK have applied for settled or pre-settled status so far ahead of Brexit, according to the British Home Office. Slovenian Ambassador to the UK Tadej Rupel expects the number of Slovenians in the UK to "drop somewhat, but not drastically".

Most of the Slovenians that have already applied for the post-Brexit status have opted for the settled status.

EU citizens that have been living and working in the UK for less than five years can apply for the pre-settled status, while those who have been in the UK for more than five years can apply to stay in the country under the settled status scheme.

Some Slovenians have acquired British citizenship and are thus not obligated to enter into any of the two schemes, Rupel told the STA. On the other hand, some have left the UK due to Brexit-related reasons.

The deadline for applying is 31 December 2020, however there have been political and public assurances that EU citizens will not be automatically deported if they fail to apply for the status by the deadline, said the ambassador, adding that settled and pre-settled status applications were mostly granted.

The UK is interested in keeping EU citizens who work and contribute to its economy, he added.

Slovenians in the UK are "well-organised and keeping track of the Brexit-related circumstances", Rupel said, adding that they did not seem to be panicking.

There are some doubts and questions remaining in terms of marriage registration, getting citizenship, the validity of IDs and options for crossing the border.

The Slovenian embassy has regular contacts with the British authorities and informs Slovenian citizens living in the UK of their replies. Last year, it also held a couple of events with British legal experts, informing the public about the situation.

Moreover, the embassy's social media is another platform to provide relevant information, however Rupel expressed concern that the elderly and other vulnerable groups would find it more difficult to access the information.

He explained that everyone who would move to the UK until the end of this year would be entitled to the pre-settled status scheme, while next year a new immigration mechanism would probably enter into force.

No immediate drastic changes will follow the latest Brexit deadline, 31 January, said Rupel, with a transition period taking place.

Some 5,000 Slovenians live in the UK, according to the embassy's data, most of them (85-90%) in the south-east of the country or the London area. They work in the City or at universities, study there, some of them are artists, doctors and entrepreneurs. A small part of them came to the UK in the mid-20th century.

Janja Hadalin, a 35-year-old Slovenian working for an NGO helping the disabled on the outskirts of London, has been living in the UK for almost four years. Even though she is content there, Hadalin does not plan to apply under the pre-settled status scheme since she would like to return to Slovenia.

According to her, most Slovenians living in the UK she knows are planning to stay. Signing up to the scheme is not difficult, she added.

Meanwhile Lana Mak, a 26-year-old working as purchasing officer and living in Bedford near London, plans to stay since she has settled in the UK and started a family there. She sees no difference between living in Slovenia or the UK. "When you settle somewhere, you get used to it," she said.

She and her partner have not yet applied for the settled status, but expect to get it since they have been living in the country for more than five years. Mak has not noticed any Brexit-related changes in day-to-day life.

Žan Florjanič Baronič, a 20-year-old studying medicine at UCL in London, has already applied for the status. He does not know any foreigner living in the UK who has not yet taken care of that - there was even a "mild hysteria" regarding that last summer, he added.

Florjanič Baronič estimated that Brexit would affect UK science funding in the long-term, which might bear on his career as well since major UCL research projects have been mainly EU-funded.

Moreover, following Brexit, EU citizens could pay international tuition fees to study in the UK, which might deter them from enrolling in UK universities, said Rupel.

Currently, there are between 500 and 700 Slovenian students studying in the UK.

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