Category Archives: British in Germany

Jane Golding speaks for BiG before a Bundestag Committee

The German Parliamentary Committee for the European Union has heard from Expert Witnesses about the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK. Jane Golding attended to provide evidence on the impact of Brexit on UK nationals living and working in Germany.

Although she chose to speak in English, the recording of the event contains only the German translation.

Her contributions can be seen at 32:30 (following the question from the German MP) and for a second time at 1:10:40 on the Bundestag Mediathek Website with a report (in German) of the proceeding also on the Bundestag Website.

British in Germany also provided written evidence what can also be found on the Bundestag Website as part of the entire written contributions.

 

Unofficial translation of BMI FAQs on residence after Brexit

Below is our unofficial translation of the BMI’s FAQs on residency issues related to BrexitHowever since publication the BMI has also produced its own official translation which can be found on their website.

Here you will find information on the plans of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) on the residence rights of British nationals living in Germany and their family members, as well as measures for those applying for citizenship.

What is the legal status of British nationals and their family members until 29 March 2019? What can I do now if I am affected?

Until the UK leaves the EU, British nationals and their family members retain their freedom of movement. However, the general obligation to register at your local registration office applies.

Some immigration authorities [federal Foreigners Registration Offices] are planning a voluntary registration process to reach affected citizens better and to inform them about their rights. We will keep you informed.

What happens if the UK leaves with a deal?

If the withdrawal agreement is concluded, there will be a two-year transitional period until 31 December 2020, immediately after the departure on 29 March 2019. During this period, Britain will continue to be treated as an EU Member State. EU free movement rules continue to apply during this period.

Broadly speaking, the withdrawal agreement provides affected citizens with the life-long retention of rights associated with freedom of movement. At the end of the transition period, eligible British and EU nationals and their family members are entitled to reside in the EU or in Great Britain.

If you are a British citizen (or a family member of a British citizen) who moved to Germany before 31 December 2020, you will most likely be able to refer to the withdrawal agreement. For this you will have to apply to the Foreigners Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for you, and if you have not already done so, you will have to register at your local Residents Registration Office as proof of your residence. Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the departure date.

What happens if there is no deal? Will the British have to leave Germany immediately?

No, no British citizen will have to leave Germany immediately in the case of ‘no deal’. The Federal Government is planning a transitional period of initially three months, which can be extended. During this time, British citizens and their family members will be able to continue to live and work in Germany without a residence permit.

To stay longer, however, all those affected are required to apply at their local office for a residence permit before the end of the transitional period and, if they have not yet done so, to register at their local Foreigners Registration Office. During the time from the application to the decision, further stay is allowed.

Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration / application procedure before the withdrawal date.

What permanent status do British nationals and their family members have after a ‘no deal’ Brexit?

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the legal status of the affected British citizens will change permanently. They lose their status as EU citizens (or family members of an EU citizen) and become third-country nationals.

To stay in Germany after the end of the three-month transitional period, those concerned will need a residence permit, and will have to apply for this at the local Foreigners Registration Office. During the time from the application to the decision, further stay is automatically allowed.

Information on residence permits is available at the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, as well as at your local Foreigners Registration Office. Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the withdrawal date.

Am I affected?

If you have British and another EU citizenship:

Nothing changes for you. As an EU citizen, you are still entitled to freedom of movement. You may also keep your British nationality.

If you have British and German citizenship:

As a German, you are naturally entitled to reside in Germany without a residence permit. In some circumstances, you will still derive additional rights from the Withdrawal Agreement (e.g. professional recognition, etc.).

If you are a British citizen and also a family member of an EU national:

You can probably continue to exercise free movement. Nevertheless, you should also register at your local Foreigners Registration Office, if such a procedure is provided. You may be issued a residence card for EU citizens’ family members.

If you are a British citizen and not a national of another EU member state

You will need a residence permit for your permanent stay in Germany. If you have not already done so, you should also register at your local Registration Office (Anmeldung) and Immigration Office.

Which immigration office is responsible for me?

This depends on your place of residence. You can search for your local office here.

Can German citizens travel to the UK for short stays without a visa, and can British citizens come to Germany?

Probably, yes. The EU has initiated a legal agreement on reciprocal visa-free travel. This includes stays of up to 90 days per 180 days. British citizens can travel throughout the Schengen area.

What changes for people applying to become German citizens?

If the withdrawal agreement is concluded, the Federal Government’s Brexit Transition Act contains transitional provisions for British citizens applying for German citizenship, and German citizens applying for British citizenship before the end of the transition period (until 31 December 2020). You should be allowed to retain your previous British or German nationality, even if the decision on naturalization is made after the end of the transition period, and as long as all other conditions for naturalization are met before the end of the transition.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ departure, similar arrangements will apply to those applying for citizenship before the date of departure (until 29 March 2019). For details, see the draft bill of the Law on transitional provisions in the field of work, education, health, social affairs and citizenship’ on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

German Federal advice on residence and Brexit

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) posted an FAQ on its website just before Christmas about Germany’s plans regarding the residence rights of British citizens in Germany after Brexit. The FAQ covers both deal and no deal scenarios.

The BMI explains that, until 29 March 2019, British citizens remain EU citizens with rights of free movement, but of course are still subject to the obligation to register with the relevant administration where they reside.

After 29 March 2019, the position will change.

Deal Scenario

In the case of a deal, there will be a transition phase until December 2020 during which the rights of British citizens in Germany will stay the same as they are now. Any British citizen who arrives in Germany before that date will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and will be able to apply for a status under that agreement in Germany, which will secure (most of) their rights in Germany going forward. To this end, some federal immigration authorities (Ausländerbehörde) are already planning a voluntary registration system before the UK’s withdrawal.

No Deal Scenario

The BMI also gives more details of what is planned in the case of a no deal. In this case, Germany is planning a three-month transition phase from 29 March 2019, which could be extended, during which time British citizens and their family members can, without a residence permit, live and work in Germany as before. However, after this, British citizens will need such a permit, since after Brexit, they will no longer be EU citizens but third country nationals. They are advised to apply for this before the end of the three-month transition phase (the BMI then links to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) information on residence in Germany), and their rights to live and work in Germany remain the same until a decision is taken on their application. As noted above, some Ausländerbehörde are already planning a voluntary registration system to this end.

How different categories of British citizens will be affected

The BMI then explains how different British citizens will be affected by the two scenarios:

British citizens who also have another EU citizenship will not need a residence permit.

British citizens who have German citizenship will obviously not need a residence permit but may obtain additional rights under certain conditions under the Withdrawal Agreement.

British citizens who are family members of an EU citizen of another EU country are expected to keep their free movement rights but are asked to register with the relevant Ausländerbehörde where that (voluntary) registration is already envisaged (see above).

British citizens without another EU citizenship will need a residence permit and should make sure that they are registered properly where they live and are asked to register with the relevant Ausländerbehörde where that (voluntary) registration is already envisaged (see above).

Citizenship applications

The BMI also sets out the position on citizenship applications and dual citizenship in both scenarios. In the case of a deal, those applying before 31 December 2020 will be able to keep both citizenships (German and British) even if the decision is after the transition phase, and if all the conditions for citizenship were filled before that date. Similarly, in the case of a no deal, those who applied by 29 March 2019 will have the right to keep both citizenships.

Unanswered questions

The FAQ sets out some first useful information but by no means answers all the detailed questions you may have about your future status. These issues include: how each Land proposes to implement these measures; in the case of no deal, the position of people who already have a permanent residence document but do not have German citizenship, or those with less than five years’ residence in Germany; and details of which status to apply for in the case of no deal, as well as how to apply for the status in the case of a deal, and so on. The British in Germany team will be seeking clarification on these and other questions raised by these proposals and have requested meetings with both the Auswärtiges Amt, along with representatives from other ministries such as the BMI, and with the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, early in the New Year. We have also collated the types of questions raised by our members on social media so that these can also help inform our discussions with the German authorities in the New Year, and will be putting out a call for case studies shortly as well. In short, we are following up to confirm how the government’s proposals will apply to all British citizens, as well as their family members, currently resident in Germany, whatever their circumstances.

More information on this website as soon as we have it.

You can read the original FAQs in German.

You can also read The Guardian‘s 22 December article on residency for Brits in Berlin.

Channel 4 News interviews BiG members in Berlin

Last night’s Channel 4 news included interviews with Jane Golding and other BiG activists in Berlin. We were asked about the impact on our everyday lives and what a no-deal Brexit means to us. You can watch the interviews here, and the entire show at the C4 news website.

You can also watch the opening speeches at the British Embassy event below, from Sir Sebastian Wood (British Ambassador to Berlin), Christoph Wolfrum (Federal Foreign Office); Jane Golding, Chair, British in Europe and British in Germany, and Engelhard Mazanke, (Berlin Foreigners’ Registration Office).

 

 

Stuttgart Christmas Drinks, 13th December

The Stuttgart chapter will be holding a Christmas drinks party on Thursday, 13 December, an opportunity to meet the new committee and hear about some of the events planned for 2019! All welcome!

Place:
Academie der Schönsten Künste, 70182 ,Stuttgart-Mitte

Time:
From 19:00 onwards

Details are also available in a flyer, download by clicking on the icon beneath.

This event also appears in our Events Calendar.

Image: By Julian Herzog, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43511715

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Report on InfoAbend in Essen, 31st October

Constance Simms, one of the British in Germany Interns, reports on the recent InfoAbend in Essen.

The InfoAbend in Essen took place on the 31st of October in the Volkshochschule, Burgplatz Essen, with BiG representative Jenny Hayhurst joining Rafe Courage (British Consul General Düsseldorf), Bernhard Nadorf (Chair of the Deutsch- Englische-Gesellschaft Ruhr e.V.) and Frau Anjelika Fischer (there as a representative of the town of Essen) for a discussion on the current state of negotiations, followed by a lengthy Q&A session.

Making my way to the venue through the streets of Essen, I was confronted by many a horrific apparition due to the meeting falling on Halloween Eve. Witches, ghosts and a splattering of fake blood greeted me as I hurried along, however the scariest spectre of the evening was yet to be encountered, that of a No Deal Brexit.

It was this fear of a No Deal scenario, due to our proximity to the withdrawal date, that permeated the atmosphere of the evening.

Following an opening statement by Bernhard Nadorf, wherein all the speakers were introduced, Mr Courage took to the floor. He underlined the futility of a No Deal scenario for everyone involved, emphasising that his colleagues were working hard to ensure a deal so that an agreement would be reached to permit EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU to continue living their lives more or less as they hitherto have been.

Mr Courage was followed by BiG’s Jenny Hayhurst, who opened with a challenge to the commonly held image of British citizens in Europe, reminding the panel and audience that of the 1.2 million British citizens in the EU, over 84% are under 65 and thus of working age. In a further sting, she reiterated how 60% of these British citizens were disenfranchised in the referendum, a referendum that has tossed many of their lives into an agonising state of limbo. Ms Hayhurst stressed that although in practical terms it was a sensible idea for British citizens living in Germany to collect as comprehensive a stack of documents as possible in order to prove their status should Britain crash out of the EU, the best solution is to make sure that Citizens Rights (as laid out in the Withdrawal Agreement) are ring fenced, in order to restore a semblance of stability to the 1.2 million British lives on the continent.

Frau Anjelika Fischer addressed the crowd next with her practical approach to taking German citizenship, accompanied by an informative slideshow that explained why to do this, who is eligible, and how to go about being naturalised.

The subsequent Q&A was under Chatham House rules, so I am somewhat limited in what I can report regarding the questions or the panel’s answers. I am, however, able to disclose that a lot of questions concentrated on the subject of British citizens returning to Britain with their European spouses in the event of No Deal. Further questions revealed that pensions, cross border payments and travel restrictions were also a top priority, along with the question of German citizenship (for which Frau Fischer’s presence was indispensable).

The questions revealed a sense of growing distrust among British citizens in Germany towards the British authorities, and a strong frustration about the lack of information available when we are so close to the Brexit date of the end of March 2019. Many felt that the lack of provision made by the British Government has left them in a state of great uncertainty. BiG’s Jenny Hayhurst was especially tactful in addressing this issue in her speech, pressing the panel’s British Government representatives for more answers to the many vital, unanswered questions. BiG are making a formal record of all the questions asked and the answers given, in order to pursue answers from the British authorities in the forthcoming months.

The BiG’s InfoAbends are continuing around the country, with the next one taking place on the 13th of November in Bremen. More information is on our website and our facebook page.

Foto: (c) British in Germany and by Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20104589

Financial issues for UK Citizens in Europe on BBC’s Moneybox

Moneybox – the BBC’s personal finance programme on Radio 4 has an episode on finance for UK Citizens living in Europe. Jane Golding was one of 3 experts on the panel to explain the issues and give their own personal perspectives. Listeners had contacted the programme before transmission to submit their questions and these covered, amongst others:

  • The impact of a No-Deal Brexit.
  • The loss of Free Movement, specifically working or offering services to a range of EU countries.
  • Recognition of Qualifications.
  • Healthcare and the transfer of UK Healthcare to another EU country.
  • Study, Erasmus and the treatment of UK Nationals resident in the EU who then wish to study in the UK.
  • Couples returning to the UK including the cost of returning and selling property abroad or even buying in the UK.
  • Aggregated Pensions across EU countries.

The programme is available via the programme’s Website.