Free Press Journal

Goan-origin EU nationals in UK worry about Brexit


London: Thousands of Goans who migrated to the UK on a European Union (EU) passport using their Portuguese ancestry are concerned about their future in the event of Britain leaving the 28-member bloc.

According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), there are around 20,000 Goans holding Portuguese passports who live and work in the UK.

They used their right to freedom of movement within the EU to settle in Britain over the years but now fear their immigration status could change after the referendum on June 23.

“There is a lot of ambiguity. Forget Goans, even British citizens are not clear what a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote in the referendum would really mean. In the process it causes a lot of concern and unease among Goans who have made the UK their home with their families,” Ravi Vaz, president of the Goan Association (UK), told PTI.

The association, founded in 1966 as a cultural and professional hub for Goans across UK and Europe, said Goans in India in the process of applying for their Portuguese passports are also affected.

Vaz said: “The application process itself involves a large investment of time and money, including translated documents and affidavits. There are many Goans mid-way through this process suddenly left unsure about their future.

“They may have applied after narrowing down job opportunities here but are now no longer sure what the future would hold in the UK.

“Our message would be to look out for opportunities in the homeland first because the decision to leave your homeland often involves moving entire families. But individual circumstances vary, and if you have decided to make the move, please explore the job market across the EU to see what kind of criteria you meet best.

“Every country has something different to offer. There should not be a kind herd mentality of just following others without a plan.”  The EU nationality for some Goans has its roots in the Portuguese colonisation of Goa in the 16th century.

The region was ruled by the European nation for nearly 450 years before it officially became a part of India in 1961. According to data from the Election Commission of India, 11,500 Goans surrendered their Indian passports in favour of Portuguese citizenship in the five years between January 2008 and January 2013.

This figure is now estimated to be closer to 24,000, many of whom have settled in the UK.