Published: 10:50, 05 September 2019
| Updated: 15:35, 05 September 2019
A bookshop owner forced to apply to stay in the UK despite living here for almost 40 years says she has been “treated like an animal”.
Tiziana "Tizy" Mazzoli, who lives in Whitstable, fears she may be booted out of the country because of Brexit.
The grandmother says the application process which EU citizens must go through to apply for settled status was “not straightforward” and took her more than five days to complete.
The 59-year-old Italian national, who runs the Oxford Street Bookshop, has compared possible complications with the scheme to the Windrush Scandal, where people were wrongly deported by the Home Office.
She said: “I have got my national insurance, I pay my taxes - after all these years why should I apply for it?
“When I arrived in 1980, I was given a document from the Home Office which gave me indefinite leave to remain in the UK. But now, it is not enough.
“I feel very stressed and it's not only personally, but for my family as well. I don't know if I am going to stay or not.”
'I feel like I am being treated like an animal. Why can't I be equal like everyone else?' - Tiziana Mazzoli
Indefinite leave to remain means there is no time limit on a person's stay.
But Miss Mazzoli was told by friends she now needs to apply for settled status. She had not been sent a letter by the Home Office.
Last week she discovered the mobile phone app which allows EU citizens to apply for settled status could not be accessed via her iPhone but only on Android phones.
Her partner Michael told her she could take her passport to Canterbury Post Office for it to be scanned and verified.
This costs £14 despite the government website stating it is "free to apply to the scheme".
Miss Mazzoli added: "I feel like I am being treated like an animal. Why can't I be equal like everyone else?
"Some people have said, 'just go ahead and do it'. But it's not the point.
"It is similar to Windrush. I have got my son here and my grandson. Why should you apply to remain if you have lived in a country for so long?
"The other option is that I will take my business somewhere else - I will go.
"It would mean that after all these years, I would have to leave and start again in another country."
She said she is worried about being deported but would leave voluntarily if that was the outcome.
Her partner and son have been left "concerned" by the process. Miss Mazzoli is still unsure about whether she will be able to stay in the country.
The settled status scheme has been running since March for EU nationals living in the UK to establish their permanent right to live in Britain. People have until at least December 31, 2020, to apply.
"Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is quick and easy, and over a million people have been granted status so far in the first few months since fully launching..."Home Office spokesperson
But Home Secretary Priti Patel’s recent comments that freedom of movement will end on October 31 sparked a wave of concern amongst EU citizens. Some people cancelled trips abroad through fear they would not be allowed back into the UK.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The average time to complete the application process is 10 minutes and it is free. Ms Mazzoli could have sent her passport by post and had it sent straight back for free.
“Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is quick and easy, and over a million people have been granted status so far in the first few months since fully launching.
“It protects the rights of EU citizens in UK law and gives them a secure digital status which, unlike a physical document, cannot be lost, stolen or tampered with.
Have you been affected? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
More by this authorBrad Harper