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Phil Russell, a UK national who lives in the western part of Zealand with his Danish partner, submitted an application for a post-Brexit residence permit four days after the December 31st, 2021 deadline.
Russell has been informed he must leave the country by December 6th but has the right to appeal the decision. He has notified authorities that he intends to appeal, he told The Local via email.
Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, British nationals who moved to Denmark under EU free movement rules before December 31st, 2020 were required to submit an application for new residence status and a new residence document by the end of 2021.
The applications were submitted to and processed by the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).
While SIRI sent reminders to UK nationals resident in Denmark during the application period in 2021, Russell told Ekstra Bladet and the Guardian that an error on SIRI’s side meant he had not received these, and eventually discovered he had missed the deadline just four days into 2022.
He was informed in May that his application for residency status had been rejected because it was submitted too late and has now received notice he must leave Denmark by December 6th, he told the Guardian.
“I feel completely devastated. I’ve been through 11 months of hell already, with no end in sight apart from being deported, so that means I’m going to lose my job, my home, my fiancee, being dumped back into London,” he told the newspaper.
Mads Fuglede, a Liberal (Venstre) MP who was the party’s immigration spokesperson during the previous parliament, has called for the deportation to be stopped, saying it is not in the spirit of the withdrawal agreement which intended to give all UK nationals resident in Denmark a straightforward path to stay.
Although a law change may not be necessary to reverse the decision, the issue is complicated by the fact Denmark currently has a caretaker government following the election on November 1st, Fuglede said.
“I don’t know if you need to change the law. There’s no minister I can get an answer from. But I believe that a minister would have the powers to say to the authority – that is, SIRI – that they should accept late applications,” Fuglede told The Local in a telephone call on November 14th.
Fuglede said he had requested the Danish immigration ministry look at the case in October, after the election had been called.
“I felt I needed to create a paper trail. I received the response that I couldn’t get an answer from the minister because there was an election, and that there wasn’t a new government,” he said.
“It’s a regrettable situation but I find it hard to see, due to the circumstance that there is no government, that any more can be done at the moment,” he said.
“I can’t do anything even though I’d like to,” he said.
Contacted by the Guardian, SIRI said it could not comment on an individual case but noted there had been information campaigns with “extensive information on the consequences of Brexit and guidance on how to apply”.
SIRI said it had sent three information letters to about 19,000 resident British citizens – in line with numbers reported in 2021 – and had created a Brexit hotline for questions.
In cases of late applications, SIRI would “assess all the circumstances and reasons” for late application and whether there were “reasonable grounds” the deadline had not been met, it said.
None of the three information letters sent to British residents in Denmark during the Brexit transition period and in 2021 reached Russell, Ekstra Bladet wrote in September.
He moved to Denmark from the UK in 2020 under EU freedom of movement rules, which still applied to British nationals at the time.
He became a legal resident under EU rules but did not subsequently receive notice that his status needed to be updated by the end of 2021 and that he needed to submit an application to SIRI for this.
Ekstra Bladet reported that it had seen an internal record from SIRI in which the agency concludes that the three information letters were a “supplementary service and part of an information campaign,” and were also available on the agency’s website.
Not receiving the letters was therefore not to be considered an extenuating circumstance in an appeal, the agency is reported to have concluded following internal discussions in March this year.
At least three other persons have missed the deadline after not receiving the information letters, according to Ekstra Bladet’s information.
SIRI informed the newspaper it had received 256 applications for post-Brexit continued residency status after the December 31st, 2021 deadline.
These had not all been processed as of September, meaning it is not clear how many UK nationals could lose their residency rights over the issue.