Muswell Hill: Dutch woman in UK for 46 years ‘dominated by anxiety’ over post-Brexit residency form

Dolphi Burkens. Picture: Dolphi Burkens

Dolphi Burkens. Picture: Dolphi Burkens - Credit: Archant

A Dutch woman who has lived in Muswell Hill and Crouch End for 46 years has said anxiety is “dominating” her life after being forced to fill in “relentless” and “excruciating” Brexit-related forms.

Dolphi Burkens, 79, said she must submit an application for permanent residency before Britain leaves the EU despite having been in the country since 1971.

She told the Ham&High she is being asked “insane” questions about every passport she has ever owned, every occasion she left the UK, every home she has lived in and every job she has had.

“I can’t remember where I lived decades ago,” she said.

“It’s not logical to ask us relentless questions of excruciating detail like that – these are things everyone forgets.”

She added: “My recent experience with the Home Office’s application forms makes it very clear that I am one of those who is not needed and the doors are closing to me.”

Former community worker Ms Burkens, who owns a flat in Muswell Hill but previously lived in Crouch End, said she has a “room full of documents” associated with her application.

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“It’s giving me an anxiety that’s dominating other things in my life,” she said.

“I don’t know how it will all turn out.”

Applying has been made more difficult, she said, because she is not married and doesn’t have children.

She said her “eyes dropped” when it “finally dawned” on her that she would not be entitled to any benefits if her application failed and she became a “visitor”.

“With no residency you have no access to the NHS,” she said, adding that she recently had a hip replacement and is arthritic.

“I would lose my British pension as well – and I need that because I was never a high earner.”

Ms Burkens – who said she doesn’t identify as British or Dutch because she doesn’t “sit around thinking about who I am all the time” – said she thought the UK’s vote to leave the EU was “daft”.

She added: “Why not just paint your house in the Union Jack rather than commit financial suicide?”

For now, she will try to “get through the crazy bureaucracy” that she said is “making people’s lives a misery”.

“Maybe [the government] will finally start to think about all this later,” she said.

“But the clock is ticking.”

Hornsey and Wood Green Labour candidate and former MP Catherine West – who has helped Ms Burkens during her ordeal – said: “Tragically Brexit has created so much uncertainty and anxiety for EU Nationals,” adding that a Labour government would “immediately resolve the status of EU nationals” if elected to power.

That sentiment is also shared by the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

A Home Office spokesman said: “EEA nationals are not required to apply for documentation confirming their status and their rights remain unchanged while we are a member of the European Union.

“For those EEA nationals who choose to apply, we have recently introduced an online process which is simple and easy for customers to use.”