Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Councillor told she can stay in UK after Brexit

Woman told she can stay in UK after Brexit

A COUNCILLOR who moved to Britain from Bulgaria almost two decades ago has been told she may stay in the country after Brexit following a dispute with the Home Office.

Maggie Filipova-Rivers, who represents Goring on South Oxfordshire District Council, said she feared for her future after the department declined to automatically grant her “settled” status.

The economist and married mother-of-two says she began the application process through the Home Office’s website but was told it didn’t hold sufficient evidence of her right to remain.

It said it could only find paperwork showing she was working or claiming benefits from 2015 to 2017, when she had a job, and it needed proof of five consecutive years’ residence.

She was invited to submit more information but said this was unfair and “dehumanising” as it should also have held proof that she was self-employed or claiming maternity benefit outside these dates. On Tuesday last week she received an email confirming she now had settled status, meaning she can stay indefinitely.

If this had been denied, she would have been deemed only “pre-settled” and eligible for deportation unless she could provide further paperwork by June 2021.

Cllr Filipova-Rivers, said: “I successfully managed to transfer the burden of proof to the Home Office.

“I said ‘you have my data so you sort it out.’ They said they would assign me a case worker and the next thing I heard was that confirmation email.”

Cllr Filipova-Rivers moved to the UK in 2000 and she and her British husband Mathew, whom she married eight years ago, live on the Mapledurham estate with their two children. She was elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor in May.

The Home Office says its application process is “quick and easy” and it will actively seek reasons to accept applicants, who need only show they have been living in Britain and not necessarily working.

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