Meeting with the Heads of the Immigration Departments
On September 22, members of our staff at Age in Spain attended a joint meeting with the British Viceconsul, Annabelle Sproat; the Subdelegate of the Spanish Government in Catalonia, Carlos Prieto; the head of the Foreigner’s Office in Barcelona, Alejandro Hochberg; and Francisco Javier Fernández-Caballero, Chief of Service in Barcelona for the extranjería department of the police. The aim of the meeting was to discuss questions and concerns raised by our staff and those who have contacted our Residency Helpline about the residency process. We were also keen to take a look at what awaits us beyond 31 December 2020. There is a lot of information coming, so get ready!
Residency process, lack of appointments and requisites.
To kickstart the meeting, we explained the service that Age in Spain provides to British nationals living in Spain, and shared our experience over the past few months of providing support to UK nationals going through the residency process. The participants showed great interest in the project and were keen to support our efforts in helping British nationals continue living in Spain, as well as to try to smooth out the residency process as much as possible.
We learned that one of the underlying issues which complicates the residency process was the lack of resources in several Extranjería offices. This is an issue that is likely to get worse after the end of this year, when the current extra personnel assigned to helping sort out British nationals’ documents go back to their original departments. That is why the Spanish authorities are encouraging all British nationals to start their residency process as soon as possible, if they are still unregistered, to avoid saturating the system with last minute applications.
We raised the issue of the lack of appointments, both for starting the residency process and to request the TIE, and to exchange the UK driving licence for a Spanish one in several of the regions we cover. It has become quite common for a British national living in the Girona province to not be able to start the residency process, because the Foreigner's Office is not issuing any appointments. The situation has repeated itself also in other provinces, such as Tarragona, and the Balearic Islands.
We discussed the idea of Age in Spain sharing the current issues affecting British nationals and other information that could help address the situation. We agreed to provide the number of cases where we see British nationals having problems when getting appointments in Extranjería or the police office. In the meantime, Age in Spain will be authorised to register the most vulnerable people into the first step of the residency process, to avoid the lack of appointments being an issue for this group. In the short term, it seems unlikely that appointment availability will improve.
We also asked what the solution will be for all the TIEs that have been handed to British nationals stating that they are family members of an EU national, rather than as beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement. The reply was that those cards will remain valid until they expire, so there is no need for British nationals who already have them, to go out of their way to get a replacement. But if a British national does wish to exchange the incorrect TIE, they will not have to pay the administration fee (also known as Tasa 790) again..
The main aim of the meeting was to explore new ways of working with the authorities on the major issues that are currently complicating the process for some British nationals. The interest shown in the project and the willingness to support our efforts in helping British nationals continue living in Spain in the same way they used to, before Brexit.
We have now established contact with both Extranjería and the police of Barcelona, as well as with the Extranjería offices of the other provinces of Catalonia and Balearic Islands. We will use this to continue exchanging good practices and useful information, as well as a means of being advised on future updates that can affect British nationals living in Spain.
Some of the unanswered questions that we are working on are:
The allowed leave (time you can spend outside Spain before losing residency) for temporary residents.
How the new TIEs reflect previous time spent in Spain, or if it will ever be necessary for current British residents to exchange their green cards for UK-specific TIEs in the future.
We are also exploring new ways in which we can establish closer contact with other institutions, such as the DGT (General Direction of Traffic).
We hope to soon have more answers to the questions above. If you would like to receive the latest updates follow us on our Facebook page and subscribe to our newsletter. If you know of someone who might need support with the residency process or with other basic rights in Spain, refer them to us and we will get in touch to see if we can help them.