FIRST Dates star Fred Sirieix has blasted the Home Office for treating him like a “second-class citizen” over his right to live in the UK.
The popular French maitre’d claims he was asked for proof of residence – even though he has been here for 27 years.
Fred said he found his Home Office ordeal ‘deeply upsetting and unsettling’[/caption]
The popular 47-year-old was brought up in Limoges, before he moved to London three decades ago to work in a string of top restaurants including Le Gavroche.
However, despite his many years on this side of the Channel, Whitehall pen pushers initially denied him settled status.
The Channel 4 star wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Tonight I’m joining le club du unsettled status. Never thought it would happen.
“Makes me feel like . Apparently you need proof I have been in the UK for last 5 years. Is this a joke? I have lived here for 27 years continuously.”
However, following his online comments, he was contacted by the Home Office and told there had been a “mistake”.
Fred had, it turned out, already been given indefinite leave to remain and did not need to apply for the settlement scheme.
However the suave star – who has also on My Million Pound Menu and presented programmes alongside Gino D’Acampo and Gordon Ramsay – has branded his ordeal upsetting.
He tweeted: “Good news! @ukhomeoffice both called and emailed me. They apologised for the mistake. “As a permanent resident with ILR [indefinite leave to remain] there was no need to apply in the first place. Still I have been granted #settledstatus with immediate effect.”
However, he continued: “As small as this may seem to some the whole thing was deeply upsetting and unsettling.
“I could not find proofs of residency last night and woke up at 4am to check @ukhomeoffice website. After all these years in the UK it is so wrong to make people feel like second class citizens.”
Settled status – who needs to apply?
Except in a fews cases , the UK government says you need to apply for settled status if:
- You’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- You’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but a family member is
- Were born in the UK but are not a British citizen
- You are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who does not need to apply
You may be able to apply if you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen but:
- You used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK (but you’ve separated, or they’ve died)
- You’re the family member of a Brit citizen and you lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
- You’re the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- You’re the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer
The Home Office has said: “We have contacted Mr Sirieix about his application and he has now been granted settled status.
“Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status.
“EU Settlement Scheme statistics confirm that by the end of June not a single person had been refused.
EU citizens are our friends, family and neighbours and we want them to stay.”
A number of people came forward to say they had problems with the system after Polish chef Damian Wawrzyniak, who has cooked for the Royal Family, tweeted he was not given permanent settled status despite living in the UK for 15 years.
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Pre-settled status – which Mr Wawrzyniak was given – is usually reserved for those who have lived in the UK for less than five years.
He has since been given settled status and has set up a group to help others achieve their permanent residency.
A second high-profile chef, Richard Bertinet, also claimed to have been given pre-settled status – despite living in the UK for 31 years and having a British wife and children.
Fred had, in fact, already been given indefinite leave to remain[/caption]