A Polish father living in the UK for over 15 years has been forced to turn to his Perthshire community and raise nearly £2,000 for citizenship fees amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Piotr Gudan, from Blairgowrie, believes the UK Government is making it harder for EU nationals to gain citizenship in a post-Brexit Britain despite the fact he has settled status and a British wife and son.
The father, who runs his own kayaking company Outdoor Explore and is a volunteer firefighter, was left with concerns after reading a raft of reports on EU nationals with settled status having their applications for citizenship refused.
With his business currently shutdown because of Covid-19 and the application fee alone for citizenship costing £1,300 Piotr asked his local community for help.
In less than 24 hours, he stopped the GoFundMe page having raised nearly £2,000.
Piotr said “I’ve started to feel almost the same as in 2016.
“The government has started to make it harder and I don’t believe it’s going to get any easier.
“The biggest problem is the prices. It’s crazy, it’s unbelievably expensive.
“I’ve lived in the UK for over 15 years, always employed always contributing to society in different ways but you still feel like a second class citizen – especially since the referendum.
“I have settled status but now I can apply for the citizenship test because my wife is a British citizen.
“But the fee is £1,300 and that is just administration, then there’s the other costs.
“I stopped it (the fundraiser) at £1,900 but looking at it I don’t even know if that will cover the cost – and I don’t need a translator, I can drive down to the test centres.”
He said: “I’m in an easy position, if I wasn’t I don’t know how I would do it – or if there was more than one person in my family.”
Piotr got a sample of the bureaucratic process he will need to go through while trying to apply for funding while his business is shutdown during the pandemic.
He said: “The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) don’t accept settled status.
“I had to prove for (the) 15 years every time I had left to go on holiday, that I was applying for jobs in Poland 15 years ago.
“I had to provide 84 pieces of evidence to get through the process.
“Because of this experience I know it will only get harder.
“If I’m lucky I might get citizenship by Christmas or January.”
Piotr thanked the Blairgowrie community for their help in fundraising for his cause.
He said: “By the time I was going to sleep it was all collected.
“It was phenomenal. It will be a long process and there will be hard times but it was pretty awesome to know that people are behind you.”
The3million, a grassroots organisation of EU citizens living in the UK, have claimed that more than 400 EU nationals have raised fears about changes to settled status and citizenship policy in May alone.
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