British freelance journalists and photographers may have left the European Union but can still apply for the Coronavirus emergency funds - TOZO - without affecting their residence status.

Freelancers registered with the Chamber of Commerce and working approximately 24 hours a week have a right to apply for TOZO if their income has been affected by the Coronavirus. However, those who do not have permanent residence, especially those in the Netherlands for fewer than five years, and required to remain “economically active”, feared that applying for TOZO may end their right to the residence.

However, while British citizens may no longer be members of the EU, those legally resident here prior to 31/12/2020 are effectively EU citizens for these purposes.

In addition, regarding non-EU citizens in general, Justice and Security minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has replied to a Groen Links question concerning the issue saying: “I will make an exception for non-EU citizens with a residence permit for definite time [i.e. a non-permanent residence permit] with the purpose ‘work in self-employment’ who claim a benefit based on the Temporary Bridging Scheme for Self-Employed Entrepreneurs (TOZO). Considering the special circumstances and the temporary nature of the scheme, claiming a benefit based on this scheme will not have any consequences for the right of residence of the non-EU citizen in question.”

At a joint webinar for business, hosted by the UK and Dutch governments, looking at their response to the Covid 19 crisis, NUJ branch member, photographer Nick Gammon, raised, on behalf of the branch, the issue of TOZO and residency. He asked whether the inevitable drop in future income would not prejudice applications for permanent residency. Nick reports that the UK ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, said that any reduction in income would not affect EU citizens applying for UK residency, while the Dutch ambassador to the UK, Simon Smits, agreed with this general principle.

Nick has also raised this with Jeremy Bierbach, expert with Amsterdam law firm Franssen, which specialise in immigration issues. Bierbach said that under EU treaties and the EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement it would be very difficult for the Netherlands to expel UK citizens legally living here, with less than 5 years residency, for being “economically inactive” under these circumstances.

And, to nail the point, Nick Gammon also argues the government should regard TOZO payments as income rather than benefits and therefore an indication of “economic activity”. 

Check out 'Can EU/EEA/Swiss/British citizens (and their family members) in the Netherlands receive coronavirus support?

See also the NL Times piece 'NON-EU RESIDENTS CAN TAKE SELF-EMPLOYED BENEFIT WITHOUT HURTING LEGAL STATUS, GOV'T CONFIRMS'  

For general information: https://business.gov.nl/the-coronavirus-and-your-company/

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