Petty Cash

This is dumb:


The convention has always been that EU countries do not charge citizens of other EU countries for any registration or regularisation process, nor do they charge for visas and residency cards for non-EU spouses of EU citizens. I expect this was done because the marginal cost of waiving the fees is vastly outweighed by not having millions of people bitching about having to pay to exercise their rights under EU law.

With Britain set to leave the EU, the Home Office needs to come up with a way of regularising the presence of approximately 3m EU citizens who currently have a right to be there. A simple registration process is the best way to go about it – sorry, mass deportations are not going to happen – and it is in everyone’s interests to make this as painless as possible. Imposing a £65 charge was stupid to begin with, and scrapping it the most sensible thing to do: it would cause far more resentment than it’s worth, and £200m is chump-change considering half the country seem happy to hand over £39bn without so much as a parliamentary debate. It comes across as petty and vindictive, and makes for very bad politics.

France has advised all British citizens to apply for a residency permit within 1 year of March 29th, and is not charging them a processing fee. From what I’ve seen, their approach has been calm, measured, and sensible. Perhaps some Frenchmen have taken to Twitter demanding Brits be charged 65 euros for the trouble, but if so I’ve not seen them. Unlike certain Brits, I don’t think the average Frenchman is interested in punishing foreigners for being caught up in political events outside their control.

Yesterday I submitted my documents on the second attempt, and at least this time it was successful. It wasn’t without complications, though. Firstly, I got a different fonctionnaire, so of course the required list of documents changed. Fortunately, I’d brought “spare” documents with me just for this eventuality, and two of them were needed. Secondly, when I handed over my income tax statements – which are not on any list, but nevertheless a requirement – I was told they were incomplete. I opened up the French tax website, logged into my account, and showed her exactly what was available for me to print. She looked blank and said “normally there are several pages” and “I need the one they sent to your home”. I said I don’t receive paper copies, I’d opted for the electronic version only and this is all I have. So she processed my application, gave me the receipt, but told me I had to come back with my proper tax statements which I could get from a building over the road. Fortunately Annecy is small, and everything beside each other.

I crossed the road, bracing myself for a battle with bureaucrats in the tax office; the prefecture closed in half an hour, and I had no appetite for coming back another day. I spoke to the lady at reception and explained everything, and she said “Oh yes, there’s a room over there where you can log in and print it out.” To my astonishment, there was: a room with two or three computers and a printer which cost nothing to use. I logged into the tax website and discovered that while everything else was identical, there were more pages to my tax statements when going through their own system. Weird, but I didn’t care: I printed everything off, crossed the road back to the prefecture, and handed them in at the counter I’d been sat at 15 minutes before. Job done, I think.

Everything in France is either insanely complicated or surprisingly easy and you have no idea which it will be until you try it. This was a mixture of both, but at least they didn’t charge me. Britain shouldn’t charge EU citizens either.

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35 thoughts on “Petty Cash

  1. Well done for getting it sorted. I’m guessing the income tax statements are needed to satisfy the ‘Justificatif du droit de séjour durant les 5 années précédentes’ requirement, but who knows? It really does depend on the bureaucrat in question on the day…

  2. Agreed.

    There’s an Estonian girl I work with who has lived in Britain half her life. She’s reached the resigned but irritated stage but people are pissed off on her behalf. No point adding to that.

  3. It’s a bit rough to unfavourably compare ‘average Frenchmen’ with a single tweeting English parish councillor. Especially just after blogging about how ace you’re becoming at statistical analysis.

    By several metrics (not least ‘which way are people swimming to get away from them’) the average Englishman is a lot more welcoming of the foreign Johnnies than the average Frenchman.

  4. Charging seems rather petty and vindictive, for me the whole immigrant thing has always been about the wrong immigrants. whipping up public feelings about poles etc always missed the point as they add value, Bangladeshis etc….not so much but skin shade makes some people more equal than others.

  5. There’s an Estonian girl I work with who has lived in Britain half her life.

    To be honest, she should have squared her admin. away years ago. I have an Estonian friend in London who got British citizenship as soon as she could. For my part, I arrived in France on 10th January 2014 and applied (well, tried) for permanent residency on 11th January 2019. I’d have done this Brexit or no.

  6. It’s a bit rough to unfavourably compare ‘average Frenchmen’ with a single tweeting English parish councillor.

    I also read the comments and retweets.

    Especially just after blogging about how ace you’re becoming at statistical analysis.

    Ouch!

    the average Englishman is a lot more welcoming of the foreign Johnnies than the average Frenchman.

    Probably true, but I don’t think there’s much in it. Maybe it’s because I’m a paleface, but I’ve never been shown any animosity here.

  7. I think I disagree, Tim. That 65 GBP charge is probably a really good idea.

    There are 3 million EU citizens in the UK who need to formalize their status? With the 65 GBP charge, you will get 3 million applications. Without the 65 GBP charge, you will get 5 million applications. I have no idea who the extra ones will be – maybe Romanians hopping over for a quick vacation to get permanent access before the law changes in the future and the door closes. Or who knows what. The real savings will not be from the 200m income the fees will bring in, but from the multitudes of spurious claims which people will forgo once they have to reach into their pockets to make them.

    It’s the same principle as making people pay a few quid to see the doctor, even when you have socialized medicine. If you do it, then sick people come and grumble about paying. If you don’t, then half the people who come are sick and half are just bored – and they all grumble because the line (sorry, queue) is twice as long as it should be.

  8. Without the 65 GBP charge, you will get 5 million applications.

    I think you’re missing how this works. You don’t pay your fee and have your application processed, you pay a fee (or not) and hand over a foot-high stack of documents without which your application doesn’t get processed. If Romanians want to go on holiday to the UK and attempt to apply for residency without half the supporting documentation, they’ll be turned away at the very first counter.

  9. They will copy/paste their uncle’s sister’s mother’s brother-in-law’s stack of documents and make a few necessary changes and hope for the best, just like all of their uncle’s sister’s mother’s children and their uncle’s sister’s children and their uncle’s children.

    It’s no different than fitting 8,000 families into Grenfell tower, or transforming Afghan men into Syrian children.

    But if they have to hand over 65 GBP for each attempt…

  10. They will submit 10 copies of each stack for each person, each with different changes, hoping that one of them will be approved. Organized gangs will contrive to get multiple permits for fictitious people, and then sell them for hundreds of Euros together with forged ID papers.

    But if they have to hand over 65 GBP for each attempt…

  11. Maybe it’s because I’m a paleface, but I’ve never been shown any animosity here.

    Amazing what a difference making the effort to speak the lingua franca can make, eh?

  12. she should have squared her admin.away years ago

    Possibly. Given she arrived aged 13 her mum should have certainly. However apart from taking British citizenship there hasn’t been a noticeable route for residency status for EU citizens. If it existed at all it certainly wasn’t publicised or required.

    The subject of citizenship has come up but as I understand it there are two issues. Firstly it apparently costs over £1k and with a low level office job that would be a big hit. Secondly, Estonia doesn’t allow for dual citizenship and she’d not ready to make the leap. I suspect it would go down badly with her dad back in Estonia.

  13. However apart from taking British citizenship there hasn’t been a noticeable route for residency status for EU citizens.

    Really? There’s no intermediary permanent residency status?

    Firstly it apparently costs over £1k and with a low level office job that would be a big hit.

    Good point.

    Secondly, Estonia doesn’t allow for dual citizenship and she’d not ready to make the leap.

    Then she’s free to go home and lobby her own government to change the rule. Sorry, but the sentimentality of her father over his daughter’s citizenship isn’t something that concerns me much. At some point, people need to decide where they want to live and get with the programme.

  14. I thought £65 was taking the piss, but £10 should have been OK, a bit like getting an ESTA but more permanent. If they had started off with £10 then the usual suspects would complain, but then it would quickly die down.

    Some stupid civil servant came up with the figure after waving his/her finger in the air on costs, and the senior people didn’t think it through, or Spreadsheet Phil told them to piss off. But this is the Home Office so what’s new?

  15. They will copy/paste their uncle’s sister’s mother’s brother-in-law’s stack of documents and make a few necessary changes and hope for the best,

    I haven’t had many dealings with the UK Home Office but I’m confident they’re equipped to deal with obvious scams whereby criminal gangs attempt to submit stacks of falsified documentation.

  16. I have a Dutch colleague who has lived in the UK for over thirty years who is about to start the process of applying for residency, up until now she’s never needed to do so to live or work in the UK. As it is she has a professional job, has worked for the same well known organisation for the past ten years, and owns her own property. So it should be plain sailing. Oh, and our employer had previously committed to paying the £65 for all affected employees. The prospect of several thousands workers, many in operational/safety critical roles, suddenly having their right to live and work in the UK disrupted isn’t all that appealing to my employer.

  17. I have a Dutch colleague who has lived in the UK for over thirty years who is about to start the process of applying for residency, up until now she’s never needed to do so to live or work in the UK. As it is she has a professional job, has worked for the same well known organisation for the past ten years, and owns her own property.

    She doesn’t sound very smart. If I had that much investment in the UK, I’d have started scoping out citizenship as soon as the referendum was announced, and got my application in a week after the result. That leaves aside the obvious folly of living thirty years in a country without formalising your residency status; I knew a lot of Brits living in Australia and New Zealand who’ve been caught out like this.

  18. Really? There’s no intermediary permanent residency status?

    Having done a bit of research, apparently it existed – Permanent Residence – it just wasn’t publicised or even really enforced. In practice EU citizens have been treated in the same way as Irish citizens who have Settled Status.

    The upshot is we have about 3M people who need to get their paperwork sorted.

  19. the same way as Irish citizens who have Settled Status.

    It’s high time Irish citizens were treated the same way as any other EU citizen.

  20. She doesn’t sound very smart. If I had that much investment in the UK, I’d have started scoping out citizenship as soon as the referendum was announced, and got my application in a week after the result.

    NL is another of those countries which don’t allow dual nationality except by birth*. So that’ll have an awful lot to do with it.

    (*exceptions are of course made for those from Turkey and Morocco and a couple of other places who acquire Dutch citizenship and are prohibited by the law of their country of origin from renouncing citizenship).

  21. That might cause few issues in Northern Ireland, more than the odd customs post anyway. It would be a bit of shock to my in-laws too.

    Lets be honest UK nationality law is a dog’s breakfast. There’s apparently 6 different versions of British nationality with varying levels of civil rights. Irish citizens get full civil rights as do Commonwealth citizens who’ve lived here long enough. It only make sense at all as a series of bodges designed to cope with the slow shutdown of Empire.

  22. “I’m confident they’re equipped to deal with obvious scams whereby criminal gangs attempt to submit stacks of falsified documentation.”

    I’m not. Especially if the names are foreign sounding and asking questions as to whether Mikail J Antonescu living at 35 Acacia Avenue might be the same personas Mikail J Antoniescu also living at 35 Acacia Avenue could result in the person asking being called a racist.

    The last thing the Home Office will want is some legit claimant being asked a few tough questions and it all hitting the press (‘Mrs Kowalski has lived in the UK for elebenty billion years and her husband fought in the Battle of Britain, and now the UK government is asking her to prove she has the right to live in the UK, how cruel and racist is that???’) and will rubber stamp every application made to ensure that so such event occurs. Them being made to look ‘nasty’ will be more important than rooting out fraudulent claims.

  23. @Jim

    (vigorous head-nodding)

    And keep in mind there will be SJW types translating pamphlets into all languages with instructions on how best to game the system. We’ve actually seen worse than this happen already, with bearded men being put into math classes with 17-year-old girls, all out of fear of being called racist.

    Also, I’ll have you know that Mikail J Antonescu is today identifying as Mikail J Antoniescu, so not only are you racist, but you ALSO just assumed xer gender!

  24. There is no residency process for EU citizens in Germany, though you can voluntarily get a document stating the bleeding obvious (that you have the right of residency) if you really really want to go and pester your local office for it. The application of the standard immigration process in Italy (Permesso di Soggiorno) was abolished for EU citizens some years ago, probably because it was illegal. I had to do it way back when because the alternative was arguing the point of order on citizens’ rights through the Italian legal system for 20 years, and in the process not being able to get tax registrations and such.

    So it’s entirely plausible there is no residency process for EU citizens in the UK.

  25. In other news, someone I follow on twitter applied online yesterday, paid her £65 (it being shortly before the announcement) and got confirmation of her settled status today.

  26. “half the country seem happy to hand over £39bn without so much as a parliamentary debate”

    Rilly ?

  27. @Jonathan on January 22, 2019 at 10:22 am & subsequent
    @Jim on January 22, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    +1

    Any Free product is abused; attracts chancers and the “it’s free, must have it” types.

    If Passports were Free, there’d be a surge in demand.

    £65 is too low, make fee higher than Passport (£75.50) – after all, one is asking for right to remain and if one wants that, it has a high value.

    .
    @Tim Newman on January 22, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I haven’t had many dealings with the UK Home Office but I’m confident they’re equipped to deal with obvious scams

    ROFL – misplaced confidence, they’re incompetent; look at asylum refused: vanished, “child” asylum, illegal immigrants not deported….

  28. Given how incompetent the Home Office usually is, I fully expect an unknown (but not insignificant) number of the 3m EU citizens now trying to sort out their paperwork to have to spend a lot more than £65 on lawyers’ fees.

    If you have moved somewhere and are planning on remaining there then it would always seem sensible to figure out what hoops are required for whatever the local equivalent of Indefinite Leave to Remain is, get your paperwork in order and apply ASAP. You never know when the government of said place will change the rules.

  29. “I haven’t had many dealings with the UK Home Office but I’m confident they’re equipped to deal with obvious scams”

    I’m sure they are capable of operating a fairly watertight system, the big question is – Will they? Something happening requires both capability and desire. I doubt the desire is there to be all that thorough when it comes to policing recent Eastern European immigrants rights to stay, what the authorities want is it for it to all go off without any bad headlines………….

  30. @Tim N

    Eamonn Holmes is furious with Theresa May – £65 buys you a white flag to EU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfUjjQ2larE

    +1 to Eamonn Holmes

    May has not magically made it free; she’s made taxpayers pay for EUers “free” document

    tbh I would suggest £500 more appropriate, then applicant showing some commitment to UK.

  31. Wake up, it’s Monday

    I know! It’s been a busy weekend and I’m behind in lots of things. So much to write about…

  32. Your last sentence is so on point. I’ve lived in France for 7 years and still never know which experience I’ll be having whenever I deal with a business or government office here. (Usually the businesses are a nightmare and the government is pretty easy, but not always.)

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