34,500 British citizens living in Portugal are finding it every day more difficult to continue their life in this country since the authorities of the latter have failed to issue them the necessary residence permits to continue a normal life.
According to the agreement that marked the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, British citizens living in any of the EU countries before Brexit were entitled to the same rights that they had before December 31, 2020, regardless of the EU country they were living in.
However, in order for British citizens to continue their normal life in Portugal after Brexit, the same need to hold biometric residence permits. Owning such a residence permit automatically grants a British citizen with access to healthcare, the labour market, and the right to visa-free and limitless travel throughout the Schengen Area countries.
The authorities have only provided these citizens with a temporary document and QR code, which Britons say is not recognised locally or at international borders, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Portugal’s failure to grant these Britons with residence permits has hindered their life, as the same are even scared to leave Portugal, fearing they would no longer be able to return. Many of them have already been detained at airports or even left unable to access health treatment.
Tig James, who manages the British in Portugal group, asserts that about 41,000 British nationals have been affected by the country’s failure to deliver its promise of “guaranteed rights for British citizens living in Portugal post-Brexit”, blaming the Portuguese immigration and borders service, SEF.
“SEF is willfully, deliberately and systemically not adhering to the withdrawal agreement, resulting in the physical, emotional and financial suffering of thousands of UK nationals living in Portugal,” she told the Guardian.
James has compiled a six-page report on the hurdles that British nationals in Portugal are facing and intends to present it herself to the European Commission in September. Due to her lack of a biometric residence permit, she fears that border authorities will detain her, like they have already detained many other fellow British citizens living in this country.
According to SchengenVisaInfo, in spite of the difficulties, the number of UK nationals living in Portugal has reached 714,123 in 2021 – 7.8 per cent more than in 2020, thus marking an increase for the sixth consecutive year after 42,071 Britons became Portuguese residents last year.
The number of British citizens living in Spain has also increased in spite of Brexit, as 313,975 Brits were recorded residing in Spain in 2021, representing a 4.4 per cent increase compared to the previous year.