Thousands of Turkish citizens in Britain stuck in limbo due to Home Office delays

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Thousands of people who were welcomed by the UK government to start businesses in Britain have been left in limbo due to “arbitrary” delays by the Home Office.

The ministers have been accused of “treating a large business community with utter contempt” after it emerged that many Turkish businessmen who have been living and working in the UK for at least a year are now struggling to make ends meet. because they have to wait a year for visa decisions.

While they wait, they are unable to travel, contract leases and, in some cases, work, which has had a detrimental impact on their income, leading some families to fall into poverty and even lose their homes.

In one case, a self-employed music teacher was left homeless with his family after he could no longer pay rent on his property because he couldn’t get work on an expired visa, according to a charity. They reportedly had to move between charity workers’ houses for months, sometimes sleeping in a community centre.

In another, a man was separated from his wife and young son for seven months due to delays by the Home Office in applying for an extension of his visa. Another had to miss the funerals of three family members because he was unable to travel to attend them due to the delay.

Turkish Ambassador Ümit Yalçın said the independent was “following very closely” the issues surrounding the processing of ECAA visas, adding: “We are confident that the British authorities will quickly finalize the pending cases which are essentially bureaucratic.”

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All those affected were living and working in the UK on a European Community Partnership Agreement (ECAA) visa, designed to allow Turkish entrepreneurs and their families to move to Britain to set up a business. The route ceased to exist after the post-2020 Brexit transition period ended, but those already in the UK can still apply to extend their visas.

Home Office data shows that as of the end of September 2021, 8,251 people were awaiting a decision on their ECAA visa extension application, an increase of 54% from the previous year and 297% from 2019. .

Labor MP Feryal Clark, who raised the issue in the House of Commons last week, said the independent: “Every day I get hundreds of emails in my inbox about this. The entrepreneurs are here, they have submitted their documents, they have all their tax returns and receipts, they have done all the right things, but they are left waiting.gram.

“The Ministry of the Interior says that if they don’t want to wait they can go back to Turkey, but many of these people have been here for years, their children are in school. They don’t want to leave and they hang on.”

Ms Clark called on the Home Office to grant people who do not receive a decision within a reasonable time a temporary visa to enable them to travel, rent and continue to run their businesses effectively.

“It’s not good for Britain’s reputation globally. They are treating a large business community with total disregard,” he added.

Israfil Ebril, chairman of the British Alevi Federation charity, said hundreds of ECAA applicants had visited the charity’s foodbank over the past year because they are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of Home Office delays.

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He spoke of a man who had a music teaching business but was unable to get a job while awaiting his visa extension decision because he could not prove his immigration status. With no income, he and his family were evicted from their home and left homeless.

“I had been waiting for more than 15 months. We had to help them. They stayed in our houses and sometimes slept in the community center. They lived like this for more than three months until he finally got his visa,” Ebril said.

In another case, Kerim Beyaz, 44, arrived in the UK on an ECAA visa in early 2020 and started a business importing medical devices, which are sold at outlets such as Marks and Spencer’s and Boots.

Beyaz supplies sanitation products to retailers

(Karim White)

He applied for a visa extension at the end of 2020, but has not yet received a decision. He said not being able to travel as part of his business has meant he has lost thousands of pounds in lost income.

His wife and young son had planned to join him in the UK, but the delay meant they were unable to do so, and instead he was unable to see them for seven months. He recently decided to return to Turkey, which means he is now unable to return to the UK until a decision is made on his visa.

“I feel depressed. I have been unable to attend business meetings and I am worried about losing clients. This question mark hanging over my business and my family’s future is very stressful,” he said.

Razem Ahmed, immigration partner at London Solicitors, which currently supports some 55 clients facing delays in their ECAA visa extension applications, said most were waiting between nine and 12 months for a decision.

“There is no evidence to justify or explain the lengthy and what one might assume to be arbitrary delays in making decisions for ECAA extension requests. They are often very damaging to applicants and seriously undermine the credibility and transparency of the Home Office in the decision-making process,” he said.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Where applications to the ECAA are simple rather than complex, most are concluded within our published six-month service standard.

“If the requests are more complex, they may take longer to consider; We have notified customers of this and our goal is to complete each request as quickly as possible.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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