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EU Immigration Rules allow 11,000 migrants a year into the UK by the ‘back door’ MP claims | Immigration Matters

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Thousands of migrants who would normally be barred are allowed in to Britain after obtaining citizenship from another EU country, the Daily Mail claims.

Brussels rules are letting thousands of migrants into Britain ‘by the back door’.

Nearly 11,000 moved here this year on the basis of having been given citizenship in another EU country.

The total, revealed in figures from the Office for National Statistics, is up more than a third on the 8,000 cases recorded in 2006. Many of the migrants would normally have been barred from taking up residence in Britain.

But under EU rules they are automatically entitled to come here once they have EU citizenship and start working – or claiming benefits. The data, compiled from passenger surveys, shows that 47,000 non-EU immigrants have found their way to the UK using this method over the past five years.

Priti Patel, the Tory MP who uncovered the information, said the loophole completely undermined Government efforts to curb the surge in immigration that took place under Labour. She urged ministers to raise the issue in Brussels and take action to wrest back control of Britain’s borders.

Miss Patel took up the issue herself after a BBC documentary in October highlighted the case of an Ecuadorean family who moved to London after gaining citizenship in Spain.

The family of six were receiving £2,300 a month in housing benefit to rent a flat in Islington, as well as tax credits and child benefit.

Miss Patel said she was ‘astonished’ by the number of people entering the UK by this route.

She added: ‘The Government has made a commitment to cut immigration from outside the EU into  Britain. But those efforts are being completely undermined by this astonishing loophole which has already allowed 10,000 non-Europeans to sneak in through the backdoor each year.

‘The British public are living with the consequences of a decade of Labour’s open door policy on immigration which is why this Government must take on these EU laws that let non-Europeans come into Britain and access jobs and benefits.

‘It is in the British interest to reject these laws and on this issue, just say no to Europe.

‘This also raises the question of why these people are choosing to come here. They have entered the EU elsewhere and chosen to become citizens of other EU countries, yet they are still coming here.

‘Is it down to a benefits system which encourages people to come here and live off the state?’

The revelation raises fresh questions about the Coalition’s pledge to cut net immigration to under 100,000 a year. Last month official figures revealed that the figure had soared to a record 252,000 in 2010.

EU countries all have different requirements for migrants wanting to become a citizen, and there are fears that some could be a soft touch for those whose ultimate aim is to come to the UK.

EU rules mean that asylum seekers are meant to be dealt with in the country of their arrival. But in cases where a migrant or asylum seeker has been granted citizenship they are free to travel anywhere in the EU.

Critics claim that Britain’s generous benefits system acts as a magnet for migrants.

Ministers have introduced a range of measures designed to curb immigration, including a cap on the number of non-EU economic migrants coming here and a crackdown on private colleges providing a route into Britain on Tier 4 student visas.

But officials admit there is little they can do to curb immigration from the EU, because free movement of labour is a fundamental principle of the single market.

A landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice earlier this month stripped Britain of its power to return asylum seekers to Greece.

Under EU rules, British officials can return asylum seekers to the first European country they set foot in.

But the ECJ last week said no one should be returned to a country if it did not uphold their ‘fundamental rights’. This would rule out Greece because its asylum system is in such a mess.

Around 90 per cent of illegal migrants enter Europe through the country. Source: Daily Mail.

Short of leaving the EU there is little the UK can do to prevent European migrants and their families exercising treaty rights or settlement under EEA Rules. Although the vast majority come to Britain to work, unlike non-EU migrants on working visas or international Tier 4 students, EU citizens are entitled to claim benefits such as Housing, Unemployment and Child Benefit even if the children are not in the UK.

An estimated 1 million eastern European citizens have migrated to the UK since the EU expanded in 2004 allowing full ‘free movement of labour’ rights to the ‘A8’ countries such as Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Germany and France, the two main drivers behind the EU expansion and the failed single currency, did not give free movement of labour rights to its new partner nations leading to disproportionate immigration in the UK and Ireland, two of the countries which did. 

When two new former eastern bloc countries, Bulgaria and Romania, joined the European Union in 2007, Britain along with a number of European countries imposed work restrictions on the ‘A2’ accession members.

Romanian and Bulgarian (EU2) nationals seeking to work in the UK will still need permission from the UK Border Agency before they can work in the UK.

Employers are often unaware of the distinct difference between ‘A8’ nationals (Polish, Latvian, Slovakian, Czechs, Hungarians, Slovenians Lithuanians and Estonians), who joined the EU in 2004 and more recent members from Bulgaria and Romania. Although both groups have the same rights to freely enter the UK, where they previous required a visa, they do not enjoy the same rights to work.

Even though they are EU members, when it comes to employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens do not have the same rights as other Europeans, for instance from Poland, Slovakia or other A8 Accession countries. See: Free Movement of EU nationals explained.

The UK government recently extended employment restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians until the end of 2013 and Prime Minister David Cameron vetoed further treaty changes indicating that Britain wants to draw a line in the sand on further European expansion.

Euro sceptics hope that David Cameron’s action and a new EU inner sanctum could see Britain clawing back powers from Brussels and perhaps opting out of ‘free movement of labour’ arrangements which has seen unprecedented mass migration from poorer eastern European countries.

Bulgarians and Romanians coming to the UK can apply for various forms of permission to work such as a Yellow Card registration permit, which allows full time work and study full time on vocational courses such as NVQ or QCF courses in Health and Social Care

See also:

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013

Could David Cameron’s EU veto spell the end of ‘free movement of labour rights’ and mass immigration from Eastern Europe?

Illegal immigrants find loophole to get in to UK on a Eurostar train from Lille straight into London St Pancras

EU and non-EU workers take more UK jobs as number of Britons in work plunges

Health care workers needed in UK now


New fees for immigration and asylum appeals

Yellow or Blue Card Refused – Appeal or Reapply?

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013

7 tips for completing a Yellow Card BR1 application to work and study in the UK

Free Movement of EU nationals explained

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email

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