British citizens, unaware of their Free Movement rights

The DunkirkGuardian has a touching story of two British citizens, Rawand Aziz and Saman Sharif, each presently living in a French refugee camp.  They had repeatedly asked permission to bring their families to the UK, but the applications have been refused by the Home Office.  So when their wives and children came to France as refugees, the British citizens joined them and are now reunited in “Europe’s worst refugee camp” in Dunkirk France, living in a cold tent.

Both men are British citizens resident in France.  Interestingly the article makes no mention of EU free movement law, and its relevance to this case:

  1. For the first three months of residence, there are no preconditions on the residence of the British citizen and their non-EU citizen family members (in this case a wife and children).  The adults can immediately work without permission, and the children can go to school.
  2. The British citizen and the non-EU wife can work at any job, though the British citizen should keep detailed pay and employment records for later use.  They do not need to earn a specific amount to remain legally in host EU member state.
  3. They can move together as a family to any other EU member state (except not initially the UK), such as Ireland or Germany or the Netherlands.  They can do this to be closer to family, or for more work opportunity, or for whatever reason they have.   They do not need permission to legally move.
  4. After the British citizen has worked for 3+ months in a different EU member state, they can then easily move back to the UK on the basis of EU free movement law. They would not need to have any savings, nor earn a particular income, nor have a job lined up in the UK.   They only need to be able to prove that they have been living together while the British citizen was working (“exercising treaty rights”) in “another EU member state”.   [See Move home on the basis of EU law (instead of restrictive national law) for more information about this Surinder Singh rule]

To be 100% clear, I fully understand these families are in a very difficult situation and they likely have very limited financial resources to move to a warmer safer German city which has more work.

But they need to be told and know that they presently have legal options under EU free movement law because they are a family and one of the family members is an British (EU!) citizen.

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  • Andreas Moser  On February 12, 2016 at 01:50

    It’s sad how many people don’t know of this very fundamental (and in its basic principles not too hard to understand) right.

    I sometimes receive immigration cases of spouses of EU citizens who have tried for years to get into the EU and nobody has told them about the freedom of movement for third-country family members. And on the continent it’s even easier to make use of it because the EU citizen can just move to the country next door pro forma to open the way for application of the freedom of movement rules.

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