Would you like to hear about a story? It’s about a forgotten deal between the UK and Turkey up until it came to life in the 90s. Since then it was getting stronger and stronger as an option of commercial immigration from Turkey to the UK. Recently the rise of new applicants brought serious attention (and probable fright to anti-immigrant members in legislation).
Once upon a time (exactly in 1963) an agreement was signed through EEC to strengthen the commercial relations via a custom union plan spread through two decades, between Turkey and European countries. In 1973, an additional protocol was signed and this agreement was presumably ready to be enacted. (Please bear in mind that I’m not a legal counsel nor an expert on these matters, just an individual who took the route and left behind by current overnight changes by Home Office, hence this fairytale is being written.) A considerable percentage of Turkish community in the UK has been relocated here to start their own businesses and eventually settle here.
Now, the important and much ignored principle of this immigration route is the fact that once a Turkish citizen agrees to take this deal, they can’t apply for ANY public funds, they can’t apply for jobs, they have to be self-employed for the entire period of 4 years before becoming eligible to apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and therefore they have to be economically successful enough to look after themselves and their dependents (if there’s any).
In the beginning of last year, a Turkish citizen made an application to include his dependent in his ILR application. The problem was his dependent wasn’t in residency as long as him which was a prerequisite for this application so the court ruled against this request. So far, fair enough, right? Right. Interestingly, the court, found it appropriate to rule against the whole agreement by stating the rights which have been given so far was not in line with the rights and conditions they provide on other immigration status. So 44 years and thousands of applicants later, amazingly enough, a ‘wrong’ was asked to be ‘right’. By the way, the so-called rights are actually conditions to be met in order to apply for ILR. Nobody asked for a guarantee to get it and it is clearly stated in the agreement and approval letter of extension applications, anyway.
As far as I understand, this decision can stand as a suggestion AND a groundwork for government to be able to create regulations which they wouldn’t be able to normally. BUT it is not mandatory to act on this decision either and there are examples which they didn’t previously. Yet, two days ago (16.03.2018) an announcement has been made via gov.uk that ILR applications won’t be accepted due to the Upper Tribunal decision on the previously mentioned case. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/turkish-ecaa-business-guidance)
So here I am, after complying with every rule and additional regulations that British Government brought along with this agreement, just 1 month before my ILR application, I’m declined the right to apply to ILR which is stated on my approval of extension letter, signed and sent by Home Office.
Any condition or situation in life is ever-changing. That’s the nature of life and everything in it and nothing is guaranteed to be granted. That’s ok. Yet one would expect at least a decent level of common sense and consistency on legal matters and decisions held by a government which claims to be one of the oldest and strongest democracies on planet earth. There is no reasonable explanation other than this court decision and reactions to this decision is even more shocking. There are two most common approaches I have a problem with. First one is “blame-it-all on Aydogdu family” who applied for something they shouldn’t have so opened this way to recent removal of a right to ILR. I don’t think it’s wise to hold an individual responsible who had no authority or place in the design of this agreement, nor a signature on it. It is as natural as to reject his/her request as it’s commonly observed to ask, just to take a chance. Second of all, and most problematic view I find, is to act as if it’s a rightful action and we can’t and shouldn’t have any say on this as we’re not citizens of this country.
The level of confusion going around is amazing. It is like accepting a government is only responsible for the agreements they make with their own citizens. Yet it is also understandable in the light of Brexit, which is an outcome of a collective spoiled expectation of being in the charge without any consequences and hey, if they can be in peace with this attitude towards their 50-year-old allies (and even longer complicated love&hate relationships, but that is a different article’s topic) who are well-equipped to take a stand for their citizens, isn’t it natural to see this disrespectful and disregarding act towards us who are citizens of a country inwhich an excluding and disregarding government has been in action for almost two decades. It’s also unbelievable that this agreement has been put behind the walls and there is no board or committee to serve on this matter for Turkish citizens since the beginning of its term which lasted through a number of governments, actually.
On the other hand, people tend to forget and easily self-blame when they feel underrepresented and destined-to-lose at any confrontation and sometimes they don’t even start to defend their rights. Since no one believes that there’s a competent government on our sides to take a stand, maybe we think we don’t stand a chance because British Government thinks it through for every action they take and every legislation they make. I think it is well-proved recently that they don’t. Also there isn’t a leg to stand on to deny thousands of people who legitimately expect to settle after investing in this country and being a tax-payer for years. To me, this is an action with a frequently observed statement by current UK government in the recent years; “I do this, because I can!” As long as we don’t become aware of our rights and their grounds, as long as we give up the fight from the beginning, we don’t only undermine ourselves but also generations of people to follow us. I, for one, suggest to come together ourselves even if there’s no one to lead. Not only to fight this wrong but also to begin this platform for ourselves which should have been built years ago. Hopefully this will be beginning to come to terms with ourselves and each other and maybe even to learn live together in peace after decades of planned segregating politics in our homeland. Stay in touch, have your say, share an idea to build up, not to break down. Luckily we’re in a country full of inspiring people who’s already been doing this.
PS: Please be aware that even though I did my best on research, there might be technical errors in terms and names. Hopefully there isn’t any, but if there is any, please don’t hesitate to give me a heads up. Best!
PS2: If you’d like to get in touch for inspiring ideas, shoot an email at firstname.lastname@example.org