A small number of jobseekers arriving into the UK have been sent to immigration removal centres, held in airport detention rooms or expelled.
Among them are EU citizens with job interviews in the UK, The Guardian reports. When it comes to EU citizens looking for work in the UK, some rules since Brexit are straightforward – such as the barring of EU citizens from undertaking unpaid internships.
Home Office rules currently dictate that EU citizens without visas can enter the UK to attend a job interview before returning home, based on the rules of the European Economic Area.
Despite this, there is still some confusion about whether or not EU citizens can legally explore jobs in the UK before returning home with an offer, so they can apply for a work visa. The confusion is one factor in the growing number of detentions.
Two Spanish citizens told of at least a dozen EU citizens – including those from Italy, France, Bulgaria and Greece – mostly young females, being detailed and expelled at Gatwick airport over the course of 48 hrs last week. One of the Spanish citizens is reported to have been sent to a detention centre for several days and her passport withheld by border force officials, despite her offer to pay for a flight home the same day.
Some EU citizens were reportedly sent two hours’ drive away to a detention centre in Bedfordshire, where they were then confined to their rooms because of the Covid outbreak scare.
A Frenchman was held at Edinburgh airport for two days recently, and the Bulgarian ambassador to the UK, Marin Raykov, has confirmed that several other Bulgarian nationals have been held at immigration removal centres.
The Home Office argued that its new rules were clear and a spokesperson told the Guardian that “We require evidence of an individual’s right to live and work in the UK”. But Home Office advice explicitly states that visitors without work visas may “attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews” and “negotiate and sign deals and contracts”.
In the meanwhile eight MEPs have written to the European Commission president in concern that the Home Office is in breach of the “spirit” of the Brexit deal.
The Home Office has not yet released data on border detentions since Brexit came into force in January and it remains unclear how many of those detained have been able, or willing, to contact their consulates.