'Where do I go?' EU citizens face legal limbo after decades in Britain

BRISTOL, England: Anna Amato was just two when she moved to Britain from Italy with her parents 55 years ago.

She has lived in Britain ever since, attending school and university, working in a variety of jobs, and paying taxes. She has always lived in the city of Bristol in the west of England, marrying a British husband and raising two British children.

Like thousands of European Union nationals who have made Britain their home after living in the country for decades, Amato always assumed she had earned the legal right to settle permanently.
But the government didn't agree. The interior ministry rejected her request for permanent residency last year, saying she did not have enough evidence to document her status.

She was devastated.

"You are in your country, it is a democracy, all of a sudden you are told after this time no one knows what is going to happen to you," Amato, 57, told Reuters. "Where do I go? It is really, really scary."

Amato is one of a growing number of EU nationals denied the right to live indefinitely in Britain ahead of the country's departure from the bloc, currently scheduled for Oct 31.

For decades, Britain's membership of the EU has guaranteed the bloc's citizens the right to live and work in the country. But as Britain prepares to sever ties with Brussels after 46 years, EU citizens must apply for a new legal lifeline to remain, known as settled status.

Under the government's plans, EU citizens who can prove they have lived continuously in Britain for five years will be granted settled status, giving them the same rights to work, study and benefits they currently hold.