Your right regarding returning home after working in another EU country

I will write this section from the point of view of a British citizen but this is an EU wide rule and it applies equally to a German returning to Germany etc. (Having said that, I must also note that some of the nastier restrictions in the UK procedures are not imposed by other countries.)

The EU treaty on the freedom of movement gives you the right to leave the UK and work or study in any other EU state. Nobody is allowed to stop you from doing so and if they do, they may well find that the European Commission is interested in taking them to court.

Now, as well as saying that the French must allow you to enter and live in their country if you get a job there, it means that the British must allow you to leave the UK.

More to the point, you must be allowed to take your dependants with you.

A few years ago, the European courts ruled on another case that is of central importance. Essentially, they ruled that, as part of the requirement to allow a British citizen to work in Germany, the British government must allow that person to return to the UK when their work in Germany is finished. Most crucially, they must also be allowed to bring their dependants back in with them.

The actual case surrounded a British woman named Surinder Singh. She was living and working in Germany and her husband was with her. He did not have a European passport and moreover he had been the subject of a deportation order in the past. When Mrs Singh wished to return to the UK, she was told that her husband would not be allowed to come with her and the whole affair ended up in the European court.

The British government lost and not only did they have to allow Mr Singh to enter the country they also had to pay substantial compensation to the couple.

The court established a qualifying period of six months so, if you work in (say) Germany for that long, you will have the EU on your side if you want to return to the UK and the government will not allow your dependants to come too.

Now, it's not all sweetness and light in this matter. First of all, the British government does not like allowing people to bring dependants in like this. The EU rules actually say that you may not charge any money for granting entry but the UK government will make you pay several hundred pounds per person if you don't use the EU route for entry. In order to punish those who avoid paying this tax, they pull a few nasty little vindictive tricks. They will grant permission to enter the country on one occasion and to live there for 12 months. This permission will be extended without problem but, you only get one shot at entering the country and if, say your Russian wife wishes to go to Moscow to visit family she must reapply for permission to enter the UK from Russia and of course, she could be made to wait outside the UK for several months while a decision is made and, if the government decide that she cannot return, you may not be eligible for EU help!

Also, it was made clear to me that anyone who enters the UK by this method will have a harder time applying for a passport than if they pay the tax up front.

Of course, if you do pay the tax, you do not get it back if you are refused and you have little hope of redress in this case as you can not then appeal to the EU.

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