Finns in Britain are among the least active nationalities in seeking ‘settled status’ —the permit to retain their rights acquired as EU citizens after Britain leaves the European Union.
There are several possible explanations for that, but UK Finn Janita Maaranen told our All Points North podcast that her own rationale for delaying her application is to secure her son’s status.
"I still have the situation with my son, whether or not I’m going to apply for the British passport for him," said Maaranen.
She herself has enough paperwork and documentation to prove she’s lived in the UK for five years and is entitled to settled status.
In the week when Brexit finally happens, All Points North podcast looks at the rupture and its implications for people moving between Finland and the UK. You can listen to the podcast via this embedded player, Yle Areena, Spotify, iTunes or your normal pod player using the RSS feed.
To get a UK passport for her son without undergoing a costly and time-consuming naturalisation process, Maaranen would need to prove she was legally resident in the UK for five years before his birth.
Although she arrived in 2001 and has run several successful businesses since then, she does not have paperwork from 17 years ago which might be necessary to prove her status.
Second application necessary
"I’m struggling with six months in 2003 to prove that I’ve been here legally, which I have been, but I don’t have evidence. The one thing that I have is a log from the gym that I have been there, sometimes twice a day. But will they take that in the Home Office as evidence, as legal evidence?"
Maaranen’s issues are mirrored by Brits in Finland struggling to ensure their status. While most have registered their residency in time, and Finland’s record-keeping is better than Britain’s making it easier for individuals to prove their status, there are still some steps UK citizens here may be unaware of.
"They need to re-apply under the withdrawal agreement because we have chosen this system so that every UK citizen who wants to stay in Finland under the withdrawal agreement must re-apply," said Interior Ministry official Jarmo Tiukkanen, who handles Brexit issues.
The Ministry has a page explaining more about the process for securing rights post-Brexit, although many details remain to be confirmed. The government is expected to thrash out the nitty-gritty in the coming months.
"The thing is that it’s now been three and a half years since we had the referendum and throughout that time the question was always 'is it going to happen? Are you actually going to ever leave?'," said Sam Kingsley, AFP correspondent in Helsinki and previously the Brexit lead at the British Embassy.
"Well it is now going to happen, there’s no doubt about that. The next question is what’s going to happen next. Still huge gaps about what we know about that, but that first major milestone is going to be passed."
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This week's show was presented by Egan Richardson. Our producer was Priya Ramachandran D'souza and the sound engineer this week was Anders Johansson.