A British man is being deported from Denmark because he did not know he had to apply to stay in the country after Brexit.
Will Hill, 37, was ordered to leave by Sunday. His application to stay, made three weeks late, was refused, as was an appeal to immigration authorities.
He will return to London on Friday, leaving behind his cyber security career and fiancee Ida Bøgelund Larsen, who said the decision had left her “concerned and confused and nervous”. The wedding they planned for January is now in doubt.
He said: “This wouldn’t have happened to me if it wasn’t for Brexit, because I would have been treated as an EU citizen.”
Hill’s case came to light two weeks after another British citizen, Philip Russell, told how he also faced deportation. Like Hill, he did not know until after the deadline that he would have to apply to stay in Denmark after Brexit and was ordered to leave by December 6 on the grounds that his application was four days late.
He called on the British government to “condemn Denmark’s conduct”. “Denmark is using the incompetence of its own immigration services as an excuse to deport British citizens,” he said.
Left-wing EU spokesman Mads Fuglede said the cases were a breach of the withdrawal agreement and urged the Danish immigration department, SIRI, to re-examine the cases of the estimated 290 Britons who applied late for their Brexit papers.
He told Politiken newspaper that SIRI’s communication to British citizens about the need to reapply for residency for life after Brexit was “unsatisfactory and not working”.
Hill, who voted Remain in the Brexit referendum, said he had no choice but to return to his parents’ home in Surrey. He now plans to apply for a visa under family reunification rules and hopes he will not miss the wedding, which is planned for the end of January in Denmark.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, any EU citizen in the UK or British citizen of an EU member state can remain in the country with rights to residence, work and social welfare. Denmark set a deadline of 31 December 2021 for applications for residence, but both Russell and Hill say they have not received any communication about this.
“Other than me being in a coma and saying I didn’t realize I needed to do this, there doesn’t seem to be any way around this,” Hill said.
When his application was initially rejected, he appealed after requests for proof of living and working in Denmark.
“They asked me to give so much information about my work, my personal life, my relationship with my partner, everything. They even asked me to give pictures of me and Ida, and in the end they rejected it because I missed a deadline. They were not at all interested in the fact that I have integrated into the country, that I work full time, I pay taxes, he said.
A spokesperson for SIRI said that they cannot comment on individual cases. She said the department had made “every effort” to ensure the application process was as simple as possible and that the government had launched “information campaigns with comprehensive information on the consequences of Brexit and guidance on how to apply”.
SIRI said it had received 290 late applications, suggesting many British nationals now face deportation.
The Foreign Office said the British government had run a major campaign to inform British nationals about the impact of Brexit and that more than 18,000 British nationals had applied for right of residence in Denmark after Brexit.
– The Danish authorities will accept late applications if there is a reasonable reason to miss the deadline, said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.