Posted: 2nd October 2019
#ConstructionisOpen Pledge to help EU27 nationals feel Welcome
‘Unprecedented Situations Call for Unprecedented and Proactive Actions’
Dr Dorte Rich Jørgensen
Around 7% of workers in the construction industry are EU 27 nationals, compared to the national average of 6% (Office for National Statistics, 2018).
Securing post-Brexit rights
In 2016 following the outcome of the EU referendum, as an EU 27 national I found myself, alongside 4 million others in Britain and Europe, being uncertain about my rights post-Brexit, in a place I call home.
Starting almost immediately after the referendum, and in the grip of ‘the Brexit Blues’, I started the process of understanding how to re-secure my rights under British law. Dual citizenship is allowed for Danish citizens so I decided to apply for British citizenship as it would give me full voting rights. I understood that any future status, such as Settled Status, would be unlikely to offer that I maintain the voting rights in the local elections that EU 27 nationals have through EU treaty rights prior to Britain leaving the EU. During the application process there were real challenges, when I needed support from others, and there were times of relief. The overall process took 22 months, from the start of filling in forms until completing my British citizenship ceremony in January 2019.
Hurdles buried in the permanent residency application included having to provide evidence of the comprehensive sickness insurance that I was expected to have, when I had arrived in the UK as a student. With access to the local GP I did not know about this requirement and did not have comprehensive sickness insurance as a student. With support from immigration lawyers provided by the volunteer-powered project, UK Citizenship for EU Nationals (UKCEN), I discovered that as I had to chosen my 5 years that acts as my qualifying period for permanent residency during a time I was in full time employment, these excluded my student years. As a result, this requirement became irrelevant and fell away.
To obtain British Citizenship you need to pass the Life in the UK Test and I really enjoyed learning about Britain and its history for this. It was great fun learning with, and testing, British friends and colleagues as an alternative ‘pub quiz’.
Invitation to Take the #ConstructionisOpen Pledge
To become a dual Danish-British citizen I had and gratefully received support from my MP, UKCEN, the Danish Embassy, my family, colleagues and many other EU27 nationals. Their support made all the difference to my ability to successfully navigate the complex process involved and to deal with the situation I found myself in.
The #ConstructionisOpen pledge, developed with and hosted by the construction industry think tank the Edge, is an invitation to members of the construction industry to make their own difference, to help EU 27 nationals feel welcome and to provide them with support during and after Brexit.
Please add your signature here and pick your own action:
Dr Dorte Rich Jørgensen is a Sustainability Leader with extensive experience in working within world-class and global engineering design and consultancy businesses in the built environment. Dorte is the CIBSE representative on the CIC diversity and inclusion panel.
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