French woman detained by Home Office officials at Gatwick for eight hours | Immigration and asylum
A French woman who filed a claim with the EU was arrested and detained by Home Office officials at a London airport for more than eight hours.
Tessa Stines has been living in the UK for a year and volunteering for a charity, while making return trips to France during this time.
Upon her return last month via Gatwick, Stines, 23, was held by border officials in an airport detention room, alongside an Afghan woman and a Spanish woman.
“We were all in a very stressed state while we were detained in this room at the airport,” Stines said. “I took the Spanish woman’s contact details and later saw on her Instagram that she had been kicked out of the UK.”
Stines was arrested despite a rule change announced by the Home Office in May when border force officials were ordered not to detain EU citizens. Instead, they were told to issue an immigration bond after strong criticism following reports by the Guardian of several cases of women and men being held in removal centers earlier this year.
The Guardian knows of another person with dual UK and EU nationality who was arrested last week at Manchester Airport and falsely told him that he must apply for status as a establishment in the EU within 28 days even if she has British nationality.
Unlike some of the previously reported cases, Stines was detained while her request for pre-settled status was still pending. Authorities later admitted that the decision to detain her was incorrect although no apology was offered.
When Stines was released, she received a letter from Interior Ministry officials dated August 23, stating that they were not convinced that she “met the requirements for permission to enter” and denied him permission to enter the UK.
After the Guardian contacted the Home Office about the case, Stines received a new letter overturning the decision to deny his entry. Gatwick Border Casework’s letter dated September 11, 2021 states that Stines’ application for pre-settled status in the EU was denied on August 20.
She had previously received two emails from social workers at the Home Office requesting additional documentation to substantiate her claim, but had not seen the emails as they entered her spam folder. It is currently gathering the additional evidence requested by the Ministry of the Interior.
The letter says that when she was detained at the airport, she still had time to appeal the denial of her application. “In view of this, I concluded that the decision to deny you entry into the UK should be withdrawn,” he said.
“It all made me feel really stressed out,” Stines said. “While I was detained, the officers took pictures of the pages of my diary. I was checked three times, my fingerprints were taken and my notebooks were read. I would say that is not really “friendly” behavior for the neighbors. “
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “A person who was not a resident on December 31, 2020 who submits an application to the EUSS [EU settlement scheme] will not automatically have the right of entry until their application is accepted, and those who come to work or study must prove that they meet our entry requirements.