There is a new game that has gone viral across UK media called “Scare British Pensioners in Spain”; this game is a twist on Trump’s famous “Fake News” played by many newspapers and tabloids, the most recent being the ‘Daily Express’…
As the deadline for obtaining residency in Spain approached, we were inundated with ominous articles about the fate of British citizens in Spain. The media was frantically reporting on people who had been “deported”, were “about to be deported” or had been turned back when trying to leave airplanes landing in Spain. The vast majority of these stories turned out to be “fake news”. So nothing new there.
What is astonishing’ however, is how quickly these stories travel, like forest fires in Portugal. Last week, the Daily Express published completely false information that quickly spread not only in a number of British publications, but also in a number of Spanish newspapers that cater to English speakers.
The Daily Express attempted to paint a bleak future for English pensioners living in Spain in an article titled ‘Expat warning: Spain told to urgently change rules for UK pensioners or risk economic ruin’. The newspaper’s leading expert, Moira Carmenate, of the Expat Centre in Costa Blanca South reportedly stated that she was “surprised that Spain hadn’t dropped its requirement for pensioners to prove an annual earning of more than £21,000. And with the UK’s state pension being just over £6,500 a year, many British pensioners could be forced to return home if the rules are not relaxed,” the so-called newspaper reported her as saying.
This article was quickly picked up by a number of other newspapers in the UK and Spain. It sparked fear among British pensioners about their future prospects.
Many errors in this article were pointed out by a leading Valencian immigration lawyer, Javier Hernandez, who told The Valencian: “British pensioners who are already in the country and have applied for their residence permit do not have to prove any income, so there are no rules to be relaxed because such rules do not exist.
“Those who applied before 31 March will receive a residency card with no rules attached. The same is true for those who want to convert their existing documents to new TIE cards. The approved residency is valid for either five or ten years, depending on the documents submitted, and once the renewal is required at the end of the period, no proof of any income is required, as per current regulations”.
Spain needs to lower its requirement for pensioners to show an annual income of more than £21,000, or else it will lose a lucrative tourist business worth €14bn each year, claimed the Daily Express. However, a simple fact-check shows that this requirement only applies to people who apply for residency after the March 31 deadline, as their applications will be treated the same as all standard non-EU applications.
Furthermore, they are not required to demonstrate that their earnings are this high. If they want to live in Spain, new applicants must obtain a non-lucrative visa by proving self-sufficiency. This can be accomplished in two ways: through income or through savings. So by demonstrating savings of approximately €24,000 for an applicant and an additional €6,000 for a spouse, as well as contracting private health insurance, they would be considered self-sufficient under the same rules as any other non-EU citizen. This is the long-established standard requirement that applies to all European countries. In fact, the amount of money required to demonstrate that you would not be a burden to the state is quite low in Spain compared with other EU countries.
Since the last of many deadlines for people wanting to take up residency in Spain expired last week, there has been no word on how many UK residents took up the offer. Even if the deadline has passed, the option to relocate permanently to Spain remains open, just as it does for Americans, Canadians, Australians, and citizens of any other non-European country.
What has changed is that the amount of money required to demonstrate self-sufficiency will alter, the residence will be temporary for the first five years (with renewal required after the first year and then every two years), and the visa must first be obtained in the UK, not retrospectively from Spain.
But then, the headline ‘Leaving The EU Suddenly Means That UK Citizens Will Be Treated In The Same Way As Other Non-EU Citizens’ would not create such a serious storm of fake fog and fear…
More Media news