Goans In Dilemma


Portuguese passport holding Goans in UK may need help to get Indian citizenship

THE exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union post Brexit has put the Goans holding Portuguese passport living in that country in a fix. The Goans would have to exercise the option available to them judiciously before the transition period comes to an end on December 31, 2020. Goans have made the UK their preferred destination to avail of better opportunities on obtaining Portuguese citizenship and passport. Among the main reasons for settling and working in UK was English language in which they studied and understood as compared to Portuguese. Thousands of Goans have preferred to settle in Wembley in London and Swindon. According to rough estimates there are nearly 1.49 lakh Portuguese passport holders living in the UK, many of them Goans. Though there have been assurances from EU president and others to the EU passport holders that post Brexit era would not harm their interests those who have followed the issue have warned people from EU countries that they would be impacted in one form or the other.

According to Keith Vaz, a British politician of Goan origin, the Goans should stay cool post Brexit. He  says Goans could either opt for obtaining permanent residency in the United Kingdom or move to any of the 27 EU nations under changed circumstances. Many Goans have been living in the UK for more than five years which entitles them to seek ‘settled’ status in that country and later apply for permanent residency. For others who have not completed five years of stay in the UK or entered it before the end of transition period, the choice is to opt for ‘pre-settled’ status and preserve their rights to continue to stay in that country.  Goans would be classified in either of these two groups and be able to take advantage of the benefit thereof. Goans being good in English would be preferred over others in employment in England as has been the case so far. They can get the jobs that have been rendered vacant following exit of Polish nationals in large numbers.

Given the fact that there is going to be major upsets post Brexit, Goans also have the option of leaving the UK. However, they would have to exercise this option judiciously as they would have to have at least working knowledge of the language of the country they would want to choose to work and make a living in. With limited option and opportunities in Portugal, most Goans are expected to prefer the UK or other countries. Yet another option that the Goans could exercise is to return to their original homeland, Goa, India. However, those seeking to return to Goa and India could encounter problems in view of newer provisions in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as the government of India has made provisions that are specific to minority communities facing religious persecution in neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. In view of the emergent situation the government of India should clarify so that Goans could take advantage and return home. If not, special provisions should be made to ensure that Indians who migrate return to their homeland.

Goans are a talented and adventurous people and migrated over the centuries to countries of different continents where they could use their talents and contribute in whatever way possible. Education in English and a familiarity with and grounding in western culture was took many of them to Britain making use of Portuguese passports which facilitated their movement unhindered. There are thousands of them in the UK and the British public and private employers may prefer to retain them in the jobs  they have been doing for years. The choice is before the Goans whether they would prefer to be British citizens or move out of the UK to any other country. Goans could encounter language barrier in case they move to other countries. Returning home could also be problematic in view of the CAA. The Goans holding Portuguese passport living in UK are in a situation which they would prefer to avoid at all costs. It is for the state government to take up their cause and provide them all necessary help in getting Indian citizenship.