Number of Portuguese people stopped at British borders skyrocketed after Brexit

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Since the start of the UK’s new post-Brexit immigration system in 2021, more than 1,000 Portuguese nationals have been stopped at British borders for questioning, official figures show.

Statistics from the British Home Office indicate that 494 Portuguese nationals were intercepted in 2021 and in the first nine months of 2022 the number had already reached 570.

These figures are ten times or more higher than the 52 recorded in 2018, 51 in 2019 and 35 in 2020, before the UK’s exit from the European Union became effective.

Statistics show an increase in this type of situation in general with European citizens since 2021, although the proportion varies by nationality.

According to the British Home Office, passengers stopped at the border can be temporarily detained for up to 24 hours for questioning and inquiries if officials suspect they may violate the rules, such as seeking work without a visa.

The consul-general of Portugal in London, Luis Leandro da Silva, has not been informed about irregular immigration attempts, but admitted that many of these situations may be related to lack of information.

“Being a system [of immigration] still very recent, it is normal that there is a certain ignorance of it, especially among citizens of European origin who want to come to the UK and are adapting to the new post-Brexit reality and the need for visas for those who wish to work, reside or study here,” he told Lusa.

The British government has run a campaign to inform Europeans about the UK’s points-based immigration system, with material translated into all the languages of the 27 European Union (EU) member states, including Portuguese.

The Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also warned on its portal about the new British immigration regime.

After the UK leaves the EU, Europeans who want to study or work in the UK will need a visa, and this will depend on certain requirements being met.

The conditions include a job offer or a place at a university, a minimum salary of 25,600 pounds (29,900 at the current exchange rate), and English language skills.

Visits with friends or family, for tourism or business purposes, can last up to six months and are not subject to a prior visa requirement.

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