Some British passport holders, whose Spanish residency applications were rejected, receive notices telling they must leave Spain in 15 days. Failure to do so will have them classed as illegal immigrants.
Anne Hérnandez, the head of citizen help group Brexpats in Spain, has spoken of the most recent Brexit residency problem UK nationals in Spain are dealing with.
Notice to leave within 15 days
Spain’s Immigration Office is informing some Britons whose residency application was rejected they have 15 days to leave the country.
The notice states: “You will be advised that, unless you have a qualifying document to stay in Spain, you must leave the Spanish territory within 15 days from the notification of this resolution, unless exceptional circumstances occur and you justify that you have sufficient means, in which case you may extend your stay up to a maximum of ninety days.”
“Once the indicated period has elapsed without the departure being made, the provisions of the Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11, will be applied for the cases of being irregularly in the Spanish territory (article 53.1.a of the cited Organic Law 4/2000).”
Overstaying can be considered a “serious offence” by Spanish authorities and liable for fines ranging from €501 to €10,000. In addition there is possible expulsion from Spain; and a potential ban from the Schengen area for six months to five years.
Insufficient evidence of proof of residency
The situation affects Britons who are applying for residency in Spain for the first time under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Britain effectively left the EU on 31st March. Whilst there is no official deadline, proof of residency before then is essential to be considered under the Withdrawal Agreement. There are different application processes. One for those who are green residency document holders and want to exchange it for a TIE. Another process is for UK nationals not in Spain before Brexit and applying for the first time.
“Applications are mostly being rejected on the grounds of insufficient evidence of legally residing in Spain in 2020, such as a padrón (town hall registration), medical insurance or other proof people were actually living here before 2021,” Hernández explained.
“It’s scary stuff when you consider British applicants might have sold up in the UK to buy their dream home here, shipped all their furniture and belongings over and their pets. What do they do?”
Britons can appeal
Appealing a rejected residency application is possible. However, each of the two appeal processes must be completed within a month. Several organisations, including Age in Spain, Babelia and IOM are helping Brits to do so.
“But if they ask for a document such as medical insurance dating back from 2020 and they can’t provide it, they risk the application being rejected again.” Hernández argued.
Anyone appealing the rejection can remain in Spain whilst it is processed.