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REVEALED: Brexit - 8,000 Brits in Berlin still haven’t applied for residency permit

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REVEALED: Brexit - 8,000 Brits in Berlin still haven’t applied for residency permit
Union jack flags at the Broken English shop in Berlin. Photo: DPA
15:20 CEST+02:00
More than 2,000 Brits in Berlin have been given a residence permit ahead of Brexit, while thousands still haven’t applied.

More than 7,600 British people in Berlin still haven’t registered for a residence permit ahead of Brexit, The Local can reveal.

But of the 10,300 who have submitted their details in a bid to secure their future in Germany, more than 2,000 have been given permanent residence status.

Brits across Germany have been trying to secure their futures in the country amid the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and the increasing likelihood of a no-deal departure.

But there are huge differences in this process depending on where Britons in Germany live.

In the capital Berlin where around 18,000 British nationals live, Brits are being asked to submit their details in an online registration form in order to be invited for an interview to get a residence permit.

As of July 2nd, 10,373 Brits had registered their details, according to new figures from Berlin’s interior senate department obtained by The Local. 

That means more than 7,600 Brits still haven’t submitted their details. 

The voluntary form, which was launched in January this year, offers British nationals living in Berlin the chance to apply for their residence status as the UK gets set to leave the EU by October 31st, even if a deal has not been agreed by then. 

The German government and local authorities have said that all Brits living in Germany will have to  register for a permit in future, regardless of whether Britain leaves with an agreement or not.

Of the 10,373 British nationals who have registered in Berlin, 2,343 have been invited for an interview at the Ausländerbehörde.

Here’s the number of permits that have been given out so far in Berlin:

Niederlassungserlaubnis (permanent residency or settlement permit): 2144

Aufenthaltserlaubnis (limited residence permit): 9

Fiktionsbescheinigung (fictional certificate, acts as a holding permit) : 182

Other: 8

The interior senate could not clarify which permits were part of the ‘other’ section but these could include documents such as a Blue Card.

For more details on the permits being given to British people in Germany, click HERE.

'It only took about 10 minutes'

The Ausländerbehörde (immigration office) is known as a stressful place for those in Germany who have to visit to get visas.

But British people have reported to The Local that the process of replying for a permit and going for an interview at the office in Berlin to be "straightforward" and "painless".

The Ausländerbehörde in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Among those to receive a permanent residence permit is Jon Jardine, 50, a freelance developer originally from the UK.

Jardine, who's been in Germany since 2010, said: "The whole process was painless, it only took about 10 minutes all in."

However, Jardine added that he felt frustrated over the fact that Britons in Germany are having to give up their EU rights.

"It really makes me angry because I don’t know anyone else who’s lost their citizenship before," said Jardine.

Jardine had read about registration for Berlin in The Local and went to his appointment in May.

"There were quite a few other Brits there," he said. "Even the security guard said 'Brexit?' And pointed us through."

And Jardine's advice for those heading to an interview? Don't worry too much if your language skills aren't great.

"The woman was happy to do the interview in English so you don’t have to worry about your level in German," he said, although he added that he did some of the meeting in German.

READ ALSO: Brexit limbo: How Brits in Germany are trying to secure their futures

Plus, remember to check that everything on the residence permit, which is attached to your passport, is spelled correctly.

"The stamp on my passport with my name is spelled wrongly," he said. "So I have to email them and tell them about that."

'Incredibly straightforward'

Glasgow-born Ross Dunbar, who's been in Germany just over five years, called the process "incredibly straightforward and quick".

Dunbar also registered after reading The Local's report and then got an email from the Ausländerbehörde asking him to come to an appointment. 

"There wasn’t many questions, they just checked my work contract," said Dunbar. The employee confirmed to Dunbar "that people who’ve stayed for longer in Germany would be dealt with first".

After a 15-20 minute delay to his appointment, Dunbar received permanent residence and was given the sticker in his passport. 

"Shorter-term residents will get called in soon, so I was told," he said. 

The German government and local authorities have already said that all British nationals living in the Bundesrepublik will have to register for a permit in future, regardless of whether Britain leaves with an agreement or not.

British nationals are being urged to check with their local foreigners authorities to find out what the processes are. You can find your local office here and here's a list of authorities that have already published information on Brexit.

For example, Berlin is asking Britons to register now, inviting them for an interview and handing out residence permits. In Bonn and Düsseldorf, Brits can also apply through an online registration process. 

'Incredibly helpful'

For Berlin-based Jenny Tonge, the process of getting a residence permit felt like “personal empowerment”. 

"I want to emphasize how incredibly helpful the whole thing has been," she told The Local ."Firstly it empowered me to feel that I had done something personal to oppose Brexit and to directly disentangle myself from the Tory party.

"I really strongly, as do the rest of my family, believe that Europe should be making more connections rather than cutting ourselves off.

Tonge, 57, a yoga therapist, also received the permanent residence permit earlier this year. She had to fill in a long form, bring her passport and proof of work to the appointment, plus a photo for the permit.

She praised the process.

"Beyond the Bureaucratic presentation and faceless large building (of the Ausländerbehörde) there was kindness and consideration and every single German person, and other nationalities I met there were really the best of the system," she said.

Tonge said she also spoke English for much of the conversation in the foreigners office, which indicates that staff are open to speaking English.

Now she feels relief at completing the process.

"I was scared what could happen," she said. "I just feel very grateful that they took responsibility. I don’t know what’s happening in Spain or Italy or France but it just felt like Berlin was being helpful."

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