‘It’s like being othered to the nth degree’ says Dahaba Ali, who was told she couldn’t work due to lengthy delay on her EU settlement application
A journalist told she had to stop working due to her immigration status ,despite living in the UK for nearly two decades , has said the ordeal has left her traumatised.
Dahaba Ali, 29, recently got a new job as a political reporter ut was told by her employer her shifts had been put on hold because the Home Office had not confirmed her right to work.
The Dutch-Somali national applied for EU settled status – which all EU nationals were required to obtain after Brexit – in December 2019, and was refused four months later. The Home Office claimed it had “no evidence” that she had been in the UK after December 2019.
She reapplied immediately and, after waiting for a response for more than a year, was told by her new employer that her lack of EU settled status meant they needed confirmation from the Home Office of her right to work, and that they needed to pause her shifts and pay as a result.
The employer, who is not being named, wrote to Ms Ali last Friday saying: “I won’t be able to have you in for anymore shifts until we have right to work approval for you which means I’ll have to stand you down for your shifts next week, hopefully during next week we might have more news.
“I’ll have to put on hold payment […] until we have this matter clarified, I hope you understand.”
Ms Ali, who attended Cambridge University, took to Twitter to express her devastation at this news.
She wrote: “I can’t speak through the tears. I’ve just had all future work placed on hold until the Home Office approves my Right to Work. Meaning I am currently unable to earn any money during a cost of living crisis.”
When approached about the situation by The Independent on Tuesday, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Anyone who has made a valid application to the EU settlement scheme has their rights protected until the final determination of that application, including any appeal.
“Ms Hussen has permission to work in the UK and has an open application to the EU settled status, which we are working to process as soon as possible.”
Just over two hours later, Ms Ali received a call from the Home Office informing her that she had been granted EU settled status. She was informed by her employer shortly before that the department had confirmed her right to work.
After receiving this news, she said: “I feel really relieved, but I also feel shattered and annoyed that I had to effectively launch a social media campaign against the Home Office. I’m sure that played a massive part in their decision.
“Obviously I’m so happy that I’ve got my status, that they’ve finally given me what I’m entitled to. But it’s been really traumatic and it will stay with me. It’s like being othered to the nth degree. I’m considering therapy.
“It’s absolute incompetence. I’m wondering now if the system is designed to make people like me fail.”
Ms Ali added: “I’ve lost two days of income. It could have been a lot worse. There are so many out there with similar or worse situations than me, who won’t have the resources I have to resolve them.”
James Murray, Ms Ali’s local MP, said: “I and my team have been in close touch with Dahaba over the last few days, doing everything possible to support her in the face of incompetence and delays from the Home Office.
“She had been left in a deeply distressing situation where she was suddenly unable to work and without an income. It is a huge relief that Dahaba has now had her settlement status approved, but she should never have had to go through this awful experience.”
Government figures show that 6.6 million people have applied for settled EU status, of whom 6.3 million have received a decision – leaving hundreds of thousands waiting and potentially at risk of being deprived of their rights.
Nicolas Hatton, of campaign group the3million, which has been supporting Ms Ali, said he was “delighted” that she had obtained her settled status, but “worried” about the 280,000 people who are still in the backlog, stuck in limbo “while their application is ‘being processed’ beyond reasonable delays”.
He added: “EU citizens were once described by the government as their friends, colleagues and neighbours, but you wouldn’t wish to put them through such ordeal.”
He also pointed out that around 2.5 million EU citizens with pre-settled status will have to apply again within five years.
“It’s obvious that unless there is a major shift in how the UK Government is granting status, we will see a disruption in 100,000’s people’s lives, affecting every community across the country,” he added.