A British man is being expelled from Denmark because he did not know he had to apply to stay in the country after Brexit.
Will Hill, 37, was ordered to leave on Sunday. His application to stay, submitted three weeks late, was rejected, as was an appeal to immigration authorities.
He will return to London on Friday, leaving behind his cybersecurity career and his fiancee, Ida Bøgelund Larsen, who said the decision had left her “worried and confused and nervous”. The wedding they planned in January is now in doubt.
He said: “This wouldn’t be happening to me if it weren’t for Brexit, because I would be treated like an EU citizen.”
Hill’s case came to light two weeks after another British citizen, Philip Russell, said he too was facing deportation. Like Hill, he only knew after the deadline that he had to apply to stay in Denmark after Brexit and was ordered to leave on December 6 because his application was four days late.
He called on the British government to “condemn Denmark’s conduct”. “Denmark is using the incompetence of their own immigration authorities as an excuse to deport British citizens,” he said.
Liberal party EU spokesman Mads Fuglede said the cases were a breach of the withdrawal agreement and called on Denmark’s immigration service, SIRI, to re-examine the cases of the estimated 290 Britons who were late in applying for their Brexit paperwork .
He told Politiken newspaper that SIRI’s communication to British nationals about the need to re-apply for residency rights for life after Brexit was “unsatisfactory and did not work”.
Hill, who voted to stay in the Brexit referendum, said he had no choice but to return to his parents’ home in Surrey. He now plans to apply for a visa under family reunification rules and hopes he will not miss his wedding, scheduled for the end of January in Denmark.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, any EU citizen in the UK or UK citizen in an EU Member State can remain in the country with residence, work and social rights. Denmark set a December 31, 2021 deadline for residence applications, but both Russell and Hill say they have not received any notice.
“Apart from being in a coma and saying I didn’t know I had to do this, there doesn’t seem to be a way around this,” Hill said.
When his application was initially rejected, he appealed to meet requests for evidence of settled living and working in Denmark.
“They asked me to give so much information about my work, my personal life, my relationship with my partner, everything. They even asked me for pictures of me and Ida, and in the end they turned it down because I missed a deadline. They were not at all interested in the fact that I am integrated in the country, that I work full time, that I pay my taxes,” he said.
A spokesperson for SIRI said it could not comment on individual cases. She said the department “made every effort” to ensure the application process was as easy as possible and that the government had “launched information campaigns providing comprehensive information on the impact of Brexit and guidance on how to apply”.
SIRI said it had received 290 late applications, suggesting many British nationals are now being deported.
The Foreign Office said the British government had launched a major campaign to educate British nationals about the consequences of Brexit and that more than 18,000 British nationals had applied for post-Brexit rights of abode in Denmark.
“The Danish authorities will accept late applications if there are reasonable grounds for missing the deadline,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.