The past months have brought a lot of talks about the status of Bulgarian and Romanian workers coming in the UK. There is nothing official yet, just talks and rumours. One of the EU’s basic principals is the freedom of movement for the citizens of the member states. Given that the UK always wants to stand out of the crowd, they are trying to take a different approach to immigration and make it difficult for the latest editions to the EU to work and travel freely within its borders. However what is the situation in 2013 for workers coming from these 2 countries in the hope of finding a job? After carrying out some research amongst people who were applying/applied via the BR2 there was a consistent feeling of helpless frustration amongst the applicants. The endless waiting times, lack of information from the UK Home Office, confusing website explanations and so on are some of the major reasons for frustration amongst people. It has never been easy obtaining the Blue Card, which gives the holder an unrestricted access to the UK labour market, however at the current moment the situation is beyond ridiculous.
The rules are that the applicant needs to support their application with their passport and/or ID card, which will not be returned until a decision is not taken. The applicant is also not allowed to leave the country until their application is not decided upon (one can still leave the country with their ID card, however their application goes void if they do and the process needs to start all over again). The applicant is not allowed to work in a full time ’employed’ position. This leaves one sitting around and waiting anxiously for a decision without an indication of the end date.The current statistics shows that an application is decided in about 6 months waiting time. The applicant is not allowed to call the Home Office to ask for status. They can check the date range of applications Home Office is currently looking at on the Home Office’s website. What can one do to speed the process up? If you are a genuine applicant willing to work as an ’employed’ worker there is only action that can get the application looked at straight away and that is an employment offer. If an employer states in an official letter their offer for employment, the offer needs to be faxed to UKBA, together with a letter asking for the application to be looked at as soon as possible. This is the ideal situation, however a very difficult one. Once an applicant is left waiting they are left in a limbo, a Catch-22. Employers are rarely looking to employ someone who does not have the relevant documentation yet, sign a contract and wait for them to get their documents. If one is lucky and finds this ideal situation – problem solved, for the rest unfortunately the only thing that can be done is wait patiently and hope that there is enough money to support themselves for at least 6 months.
Although there is a lot of frustration at the moment in terms of how the UK handles these applications there is not much that can be done. If one’s mind is set for the bright lights of London and the UK, they should be prepared to wait and fight their way through bureaucracy. The barriers to enter are high but then in the end – this is why it is one of the most competitive markets in the world, so you are all up for a treat.
In the end only 2 things can really happen – the UK will either comply with EU’s regulations for freedom of movement and access to their job market for Bulgaria and Romania in 2013 or they will leave the EU and bring back an actual visa control. This is not to sound pessimistic in terms of the future but the UK and especially London’ Downing street is full of a lot of pragmatic people who fight immigration the same way they will fight the plague, so one cannot be surprised that they try to stop anyone from coming in and take away what is considered the birth right of the ‘Brits’.
All that can be said is be patient and play by the rules – the Brits like people who play by the rules and obey the system. Good luck, Londoners to be 🙂