Spaniards living in Britain have been sharing their worries after the announcement on Wednesday that the UK will introduce a new points-based system to control immigration into the country.
Key requirements to reach 70 points to gain UK residency after the end of the Brexit transition period in December are, among others, a firm job offer, higher education level, salary offer over 30,800 euros a year and a knowledge of English. Each attribute carries 10 to 20 points.
Spain is the fifth EU country with most residents in the UK, after Poland, Romania, Italy and Portugal. According to British government data, 200,000 Spaniards have so far applied for the official EU Settlement Scheme ahead of the new rules. Immigrants from Spain play a significant role in many areas of the economy and are especially important in the NHS.
23-year-old Pablo Sánchez arrived in the UK only two months ago to join his older sister. He took just two weeks to find a shop assistant job in London, although he doesn’t speak English.
“I don’t think that by January I’ll be able to speak English, this is the fault of Brexit for sure, it feels pretty unfair to me,” he said.
Paloma López, who arrived a year ago in Manchester said, “I applied for settled status but they haven’t replied to me yet. I think it’s bad and unfair that they treat us Europeans like this.”
Some see the benefits
Marcos from Madrid, who works in the City and didn’t want to give his full name, was more supportive. “I think it’s brilliant that they require people to speak English and show that they are suitable for their job.”
In contrast, Silvia González, a Spanish campaigner for the rights of EU nationals in Britain, said the new rules “don’t take into account what immigration can bring to this country. For example, there are many immigrants from the EU that get paid for working in the care sector, which is a basic need given the elderly population in the UK.”