Since Brexit, nothing should have changed for me. An Irish woman living in the UK with my English husband and our daughter, with my Irish passport, all will be fine. First, my employer questioned my ability to work here and I was able to tell them that nothing had changed. I quoted several agreements but other European nationalities on the payroll were being asked the same thing, so this is obviously a Brexit-effect. I gave a copy of my passport on taking up employment, plus copies of my educational certifications so nothing should have changed.
New requests for ID.
Interviewing for online jobs during the pandemic, I discovered that if I did not upload a British passport as proof of my right to work, it was refused. Constant phone calls to the agencies just confirmed that it was British or nothing as the system was not set up to accept other passports. I suggested they check the agreements between the UK and Ireland but it was clear that for an agency, somebody like me without a relevant passport was not worth the trouble. Fine. So my daughter, born in a London hospital, got herself a British passport in addition to her Irish one but I, who can but refuse to, am getting rejections from many quarters without one. How is everybody else doing?
People who need a residence permit in the UK are European citizens and other nationalities without some agreement with the UK. To be honest, it has been a minefield for EU citizens resident in the UK who had to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before Brexit actually happened. After 30 June 2021, you needed to be able to prove that you had lived in the UK for at least 5 years and if you could not, then you had to apply for pre-settled status. Confused? Me too. After delving into the files of information available, I learned that I could apply for British citizenship if I wanted to. However, I would never give up the best passport in the world so I opted for remaining fully Irish. I figured none of this settled or pre-settled status was valid for me anyway because I knew that Ireland had a special agreement with the UK called the Common Travel Area Agreement, known as the CTA.
However, Ireland is a special category and the CTA allows traffic both ways. People from Ireland can visit, live and work in the UK and British people can do the same in Ireland. Based on periods when the migrant Irish working force was a valuable resource to a post-war Britain, where roads needed rebuilding and re-construction of bombed buildings was essential, the Irish construction workers were in demand. In theory, then, I was born in Ireland, have lived here for many years, have married an Englishman, and have a daughter who holds both passports. I should have no worries.
What does the British government advise?
You need to prove your right to work in the UK, according to the government (see links below) so it advises me to get a share code. Apparently, this is my biometric residence permit number (I do not need a residence card) or my biometric residence card number (I do not have one) or my passport or national identity card.
So my Irish passport is my answer to the above. Wrong. 3 British agencies have refused my Irish passport and now the same is happening in the US.
One US example: Upwork
This US-based company was a godsend to me at the beginning of the pandemic when my teaching work dried up. It allows you to upload a profile and bid for work. I loved the contact with people from other countries and being able to write for them. When I had an accident and ended up in a wheelchair for months, it kept me sane writing for other people and websites but also being able to keep myself afloat despite my disability. I loved the platform and enjoyed being independent as a disabled person and being able to work from home.
Initially, I set up my profile, and used my Irish passport as my identification and all went ahead nicely. Until April 2023 that is, when I was asked to submit my ID once more but this time to prove my right to reside and work in the UK. I was asked repeatedly for proof of residence. My ID and my location did not match. So does that mean I am supposed to live in Ireland if I work on Upwork, or should I invent an address in Ireland so that I can pretend to work from there? Total nonsense and why is this an issue anyway?
This leads to lots of other difficulties proving you live in the UK. Do I need to upload my bank details? No, hang on they already know they pay me into a UK ban account so that won’t do. Did the British government suddenly decide to issue residence permits? Neither my husband nor my daughter faces this difficulty. So should I upload my “driver’s license”? Don’t have one, so that sucks. What’s next? And so on. It is not just the Irish that suffer this request for paperwork because online forums reveal that in other countries, the same random requests have been multiplying.
Being Irish means that I am not British. Full stop according to these checks. Computer checks are very black and white and I am not a fan. In this case, my country and I may have all the permits in the world but the computer says no.
The legal implications are that my account will be frozen until proof is uploaded. So where does my earned cash go? This does not look good for Irish-US relations despite Joe Biden’s visit to the home country.
I am still waiting to hear if my uploaded document was accepted or not but it has made me reassess my own status as an Irish person in the UK. I may be permitted to live here but may be deprived of the ability to work because I do not have an acceptable passport for these online checks.
Brexit has caused a lot of confusion for everybody with no visible benefits. Trade is affected, food supply is tortuous and there seems to be no clear guidance to follow for Irish citizens mainly because although the agreements exist, nobody seems to either know about them or accept them. English, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish people can travel, live and work in Ireland but if you live here in the UK with your green paperwork, then the best option seems to be to get a British passport. More paperwork, unnecessary cost and what protection would I have as a resident of the UK that my Irish passport cannot offer me? Brexit has caused me headache after headache and it offers the Irish in Britain an even bigger one than imagined because nobody in the UK, or the US has ever heard of the CTA and will demand impossible paperwork. I am really interested in hearing about other people’s experiences so please message me so we can compile some real-life experiences of the damage that Brexit has done to your employability status as an Irish citizen.
Checking a job applicant’s right to work – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Brexit and Ireland (citizensinformation.ie)