The European Union this week gave its two newest members, Romania and Bulgaria, a ‘slap in the face’ denying the right to join the Schengen bloc’s passport-free travel zone.
Finland and the Netherlands objected to admitting Romania and Bulgaria to an area known as the Schengen zone, which basically means that members agree to trust one another’s border security and to allow travellers to cross their mutual frontiers without having to show a passport.
The Schengen area, which runs from Portugal to Poland, through which road, rail and even air travellers need only basic identity papers to move freely, has come under growing strain this year over fears about illegal immigration.
Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007 and are also blocked from working without permission in many EU states including the UK (where they are also required to take out Comprehensive Sickness Insurance when applying for student yellow cards), say they have met the technical standards for joining the Schengen zone, but the two objectors said that was not enough.
“It is also a matter of trust and confidence that our collective external borders will be safe and secure,” said Gerd Leers, the Dutch immigration minister. “At the moment, it is clear that there are still significant shortcomings in the field of anticorruption and the fight against organized crime.”
Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the Bulgarian interior minister, said in a televised interview that his country was in a “Catch-22,” with new requirements put in its way each time it satisfies the old ones.
The two excluded countries plan to appeal the decision at a summit meeting of European Union leaders next month, but no change is likely before a report is published next February on the progress of the two countries on law enforcement issues.
Technically the refusal to admit Romania and Bulgaria will make little difference to most of their citizens, who can still travel easily within the European Union on a passport on ID Card, however, it is a massive snub for the two governments, which are already sensitive about being treated as second-class EU member nations that are denied free movement of labour rights.
In the UK Romanian and Bulgarians who want to work can apply for a work permit or register for a Yellow Card as a student or self employed business person.
Generally it is easier to obtain a yellow card as a student which is a relatively straightforward process.
Those who study vocational or sandwich-type courses (at an approved college on the DIUS register), such as QCF (which replaced NVQ’s this year) in Customer Service or Health and Social Care, are allowed to work full time, as stated on the back of their Yellow Cards.
British employers can employ Romanian and Bulgarian workers provided they obtain a yellow card registration certificate allowing them to work in the UK whilst studying for a British qualification.
Once they study and work legally for 12 months in line with their course, they will usually be granted a residence ‘Blue Card’ permit.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students – NVQ or QCF Vocational courses which allow students to effectively work full time because they are taking a vocational course. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to offer jobs to Bulgarians and Romanians.
Majestic College also offer free support with BR1 or Yellow Card applications.
For more information and a free consultation call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email email@example.com