A campaigner for EU citizens’ rights in the UK has said she is in a state of shock after the Home Office rejected her application for settled status despite her having lived in the the country for more than half her life.
Dahaba Ali, 27, moved to the UK at the age of 10. She was born in the Netherlands where her mother was granted refugee status after fleeing the conflict in Somalia.
She works as a producer on BBC Newsnight and Politics Live as well as writing for various national print media. Ali is also a prominent campaigner with the organisation The3Million which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens in the UK.
The campaign has repeatedly raised concerns that some EU citizens with a right to remain in the UK would struggle to access and navigate the settled status application process, which closes on 30 June.
She spent her childhood in London and then attended Cambridge University, securing a partial scholarship to study history. She applied for EU settled status for herself and her mother last October.
While her mother’s status was granted, Ali received a letter from the Home Office dated 28 March 2021 which states: “Your application has been carefully considered but unfortunately from the information available you do not meet the requirements of the scheme. I am sorry to inform you that your application has therefore been refused.”
It adds that while there is evidence that she has lived in the UK “periodically” between February 2016 and December 2019, this is a period of less than five years.
“My heart sank and I felt sick when I read the letter,” said Ali. She said she had not left the UK last year, the time Home Office has asked her about. She said she did not receive any text messages to her phone and only found emails from the Home Office asking her for more information about her case after she received her EUSS refusal and looked in her email spam folder.
“Am I really being punished because I missed a couple of emails,” she said. “I’m terrified I’ll lose my right to work and be removed to Holland. I don’t even speak Dutch any more.”
A Home Office spokesperson said that Ali’s application to the EU Settlement Scheme was refused because she failed to provide evidence of her residence in the UK.
“She is able to reapply to the scheme by 30 June 2021 and we encourage her to get in touch with the helpline where our dedicated staff can support her to provide the requested evidence.
“We made several repeated attempts to contact her over a number of weeks – by email, phone and text – but the evidence requested was not provided. We accept a range of evidence and will work with people on a case-by-case basis to consider other evidence if necessary.”