On 9th May, a married couple from Oxford both who werre EU citizens were prevented from boarding their British Airways flight home after a holiday in Turkey. Arthur Vissing, a Danish citizen, and his Turkish wife, Ezgi Vissing were about to board their UK-bound flight from Istanbul when flight crew told Mrs. Vissing she didn’t have the correct paperwork.
The law as it normally stands is clear cut: EU citizens are allowed to reside in the UK with a non-EU spouse and are afforded freedom of movement around the EU. The UK is – to the chagrin of many – still in the EU and as such, the couple should have been afforded normal freedom to travel. However, under the UK’s post-Brexit arrangements, EU citizens and their non-EU family members much apply for settled status.
This is an unusual moment of legal limbo for EU citizens living in the UK. Ezgi has ‘pre-settled status’, which should afford her the right to enter the UK. However, the flaw lies in the very thing that was supposed to simplify the process: technology. The Home Office does not provide physical documentation for those who have been given pre-settlement status – instead they have a weblink to an official Home Office site.
Any non-EU or non-UK resident with settled status will know that when you travel, screenshots and webpages are generally not accepted at the check in desk: you need a physical visa. The fault does not lie with the airline: they take their advice from their respective British consulate. So, what does this mean for EU citizens travelling with pre-settled status over the summer?
The best advice is to request a biometric card, which the Home Office can issue before you travel: but make sure that you apply for the card well before you travel – do not leave it to the last minute because as with all things relating to the issuance of visas, it takes time. Do not travel without a biometric card to prove that you have been granted pre-settled status.
The good news? You can stay outside of the UK for up to two years without losing your pre-settled status – so if you’re refused boarding after your summer holiday, you could always extend the stay and enjoy some extra sun, sea and sand!