Thousands of British expats have been warned that they face being kicked out of Spain by police and immigration officials for failing to have the correct residency paperwork.
The Spanish Interior Minister said, “Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, and in accordance with the Brexit agreement with EU countries and international conventions, British citizens are subject to the same rules as citizens of other third-party countries.
“Like any other third-country citizens, the maximum period they can stay in Spain is three months – unless they have a work, study or another kind of visa that allows them to stay longer.”
Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and Brits living in an EU member state before 1 January are allowed to reside there.
Hundreds if not a few thousand British expats who are unregistered in the country could be slapped with the new EU regulations which limits visa-free visits to Spain to just six months.
A group campaigning for the rights of British migrants living in Spain, have claimed that British expats face “a 90-day deadline to leave the country.”
Sue Wilson, the chair of Bremain in Spain said, “These are people who have been flying under the radar for a long time when they should have registered their residence in the country and didn’t for whatever reason.
“If they are unable to prove they were resident before 31 December and get entitlement to remain in Spain, they now face a 90-day deadline to leave the country.
“Many are still planning to do the same and think the Spanish will either turn a blind eye or will take time to get their act together to enforce the law.
“But they are kidding themselves.
“These rules are rules that have applied to third-country nationals for years and the Spanish authorities have no catching up to do.”
A British expat who lives in Spain told the Guardian newspaper, “If they remain in Spain, they have to become an official resident and might be worried about their rights to go home to access the NHS for example.
“For them, it is crunch time.”
Michele Euesden, the Marbella-based managing director of the Euro Weekly newspaper, added, “Some people are frightened of the consequences if they overstay and are afraid if there is another lockdown they won’t be able to leave and come back again and visit because they will be known to the authorities.”
The British Embassy has warned, “Any stays beyond the 90 days in any 180 day period will be dependent on the applicable visas and immigration rules for Spain.
“This may require applying for a visa and/or permit.”
Moira Carmenate of the Expat Centre based in Ciudad Quesada in Costa Blanca South told The Olive Press, “Brexit has changed so many things in a wholly negative way.
“The withdrawal agreement wasn’t properly thought through and the consequences for some individuals and businesses has been catastrophic.
“After four years of soundbited and false promises from the UK government, those picking up the pieces are the vulnerable Brits right throughout Europe, not just Spain.
“As a consequence a lot of elderly folk living here who don’t have access to social media or trustworthy news sources, have been unaware of the recent and ongoing changes.
“This leaves Brits vulnerable and at the mercy of hearsay, I really feel for them.”
Anthony Cook, who has lived in Spain for seven years, told Global247news: “The Spanish dream is over for me, it’s time to go back to Cardiff.
“It’s been a blast but the new regulations have made it impossible to stay.
“The freedom of movement has gone and I don’t want to end up getting deported and fined.”
Shaun Cromber voted Leave and is now heading back to the UK, said he did not believe Brexit would end his Spanish lifestyle.
He said, “Yes I voted out, but I didn’t realise it would come to this.
“My application has been rejected and we are on our way home, my wife is in tears, she’s distraught if I’m honest and I’m not too happy at the prospect of returning back to the UK.
“I’ve loved living on the Costa del Sol and after five years can’t believe it has come to this.
“We applied but got rejected and so have no choice, although long term I think the Spanish will regret chucking us out of Spain.”