Need your residency to stay in the Canary Islands…there is still time!
British readers will hardly need reminding that at midnight on December 31st, the transition period following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union came to an end. However significant this date was, it didn’t mark a clean end to the Brexit process for UK Nationals in the Canaries. Come New Year’s Day, many people living in the Islands still needed to to complete the process of formalising their status as resident in Spain, and many still do.
The good news is if you can demonstrate that you were legally living in Spain before 31st December 2020 there is still time! You still have time to apply for residency and your rights will be protected under the terms of the UK’s withdrawal agreement.
This message was reinforced as 2020 came to a close by Hana Jalloul, the Spanish Secretary of State for Migration, who said: “I know that many of you have built your homes here and we want you to stay. You are part of the Spanish family. You are part of us. As I said in July, this is, and will always be, your home. My key message is, as long as you were legally living here before 31st December, your rights will be protected and recognised in Spain”.
Of course this raises the question of what “legally living” actually means, and for many anxious Brits the even more important question, “what does it mean for me?” Well, as part of its work to provide support related to residency under the United Kingdom Nationals Support Fund (UKNSF), Age in Spain has clarified that the term “legally living”, means that someone was living here before the end of last year and they met the EU residence conditions.
This might mean that you had a job, were self-employed, a student or someone who is self-sufficient. So, if you meet those requirements (and you have documentation to prove it), even if you haven’t started the residency process yet, there is still time to do it.
At the same time, Age in Spain recognises that this is easier said than done. There have been all the complications caused by Covid 19 – not least those who found themselves unable to return to Spain because of the travel restrictions following a trip back to the UK over the Christmas period. Then there have been the delays in getting appointments and the stress that always comes when dealing with official organisations.
If ever the expression “perfect storm” was appropriate then, for some Brits, it’s now. But Age in Spain is here and able to offer free information and support for those who are struggling, particularly anyone who finds it more difficult to complete their paperwork, such as elderly people, people living with disabilities, those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties, and those facing language or technological barriers. It is important to stress that, despite our name; Age in Spain can support people of any age who need help with the residency process.
So what does this look like in practice?
Well our Regional co-ordinator for the Canary Islands, Deepika Harjani, has been incredibly busy over the last few months making sure that anyone who needs our help is able to get it.
Regional Co-ordinator for the Canary Islands, Deepika Harjani, pictured at a pop-up event in La Palma.
This has involved pop-up events (socially distanced of course), where people can come in person to ask questions and raise their concerns as well as picking up individual cases of people in the Canaries who have contacted the Age in Spain residency helpline.
For example, Deepika recently held face-to-face events at the Tenencia Alcaldia of the Ayuntamiento de Antigua on the Island of Fuerteventura. Over the course of two days she spoke to 28 people who raised a number of issues and concerns, including pensions-related questions, issues around the implications of Brexit for “swallows”, and the difficulty of finding a job which met the residency income requirements.
For some people, a 30 minute conversation was enough to resolve their doubts and set them on the right path, while for those in more complicated situations Deepika and the Age in Spain team is providing ongoing support. Keep an eye on the events page of the Age in Spain website: https://www.ageinspain.org/event or follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest plans.
Deepika has also been liaising with local Town Halls (Ayuntamientos), the British Consulate, and local voluntary groups, such as Caritas and Noah’s Ark to make sure the support we offer is as well-informed and co-ordinated as it possibly can be. Of course, not even Deepika can be everywhere all of the time so it’s important to say that people on the Canaries can also contact the residency helpline at any time (see the details at the end of this article) or if you want to book a 30 minute, online “surgery” to discuss your residency issues you can email email@example.com, putting “Canaries Surgery” in the subject line.
Additionally, Age in Spain is hosting a Facebook Live event tomorrow (Thursday 4th March) at 4pm Canaries time. This online event is specifically about the Canary Islands and we will talk about a range of topics, including getting appointments, healthcare access, documents, and much more. There will also be the chance to ask questions.
Please do join us at https://www.facebook.com/ageinspain
If you are still are anxious or unclear about what is involved in the residency process for you, we do hope you will contact us. We are here to help.
The Age in Spain Residency Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on (+34) 932 20 97 41.
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org