EU nationals were promised automatic settled status. Make it happen! #BrokenPromises

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My name is Damian Wawrzyniak. I’m a Polish chef and the UK has been my home for over 15 years. I’ve cooked for the royal family, was voted UK Top 10 Food Pioneer by BBC Good Food and was a senior chef at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. But this was not good enough to get "settled status" to allow me to stay here permanently after we leave the EU.

I thought applying to this EU Settlement Scheme would be simple. But I was wrongly granted a temporary status instead of a permanent one. It left our family devastated. If unresolved, it would have left us vulnerable to the unknown future immigration system and left my plans to settle in the UK with my young children uncertain.  

People who have lived and worked in the UK legally for decades who fail to successfully apply will be criminalised overnight after the Government’s cut-off date. Many children like mine who were born in the UK must still apply or they too will become vulnerable to the hostile immigration system. The scheme is an unnecessary and complex process - especially if it goes wrong like it did with mine. That’s why I’m calling for all EU nationals and non-EU family members to be granted automatic settled status.   

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have already promised this would happen but we haven’t seen any action. Every day that goes by, we get nervous about our future. If it doesn’t happen, it will be a bureaucratic nightmare for the Home Office and heartbreaking for communities. Those of us who are unable to successfully apply will be prevented from working, opening a bank account, driving or renting accommodation. We will be at risk of detention and forced removal.   

I speak good English and have worked and paid taxes for 15 years. If I found the scheme difficult, it will be catastrophically worse for those who do not have the same voice or means that I do. Groups like older people, disabled people and survivors of domestic violence who are more likely to struggle with the scheme are at greatest risk of slipping through the cracks in the system.  

I’m simply calling on the UK Government to deliver on its existing promise and grant all EU nationals and their families in the UK automatic settled status. This is the only way to avoid hundreds of thousands of us becoming criminalised overnight and to stop bureaucratic chaos in the long run. It is the only way to ensure we can continue living and working in the place we call home.