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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Young Syrian refugee lost dream cabin crew job over passport mix-up | Money

I am chair of a voluntary organisation, Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees. One of our Syrian refugees, brought here under the government’s “vulnerable persons relocation scheme” three years ago, has been let down by Ryanair. Last May he was accepted on a cabin crew training course with the airline, with support from Worcestershire county council. He had previously submitted his Home Office travel document and the council was assured when it checked it that it was valid.

Eight months later, the day before the in-class training began, he was told in a two-line email that he was being “removed” from the course as he did not have a full UK passport. By then he had spent more than £1,000 on course requirements, completed the online training, and terminated his contract with his employer.

The passport issue should have been obvious when he submitted it in March 2021. Working as cabin crew had been his dream job as he builds a new life. This has been a severe setback and left him in debt. Ryanair has refused to refund him or the council any money, or even apologise.
YR, Bromsgrove

This is a painful case that could so easily have been avoided. The young Syrian and the council appear to have been confused about the legal status of a Home Office travel document, which looks similar to a UK passport, while the recruitment agency that signed him up has been woefully remiss. Ryanair cabin crew candidates are processed and trained by Crewlink, whose website states that applicants for UK jobs must have an “unrestricted right to live and work in the UK” and be in possession either of a UK passport or settled status.

Your refugee has been granted leave to remain, which allows him to live and work in the UK for five years before becoming eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Settled status is only granted to EU nationals. It’s worrying, for all sorts of reasons, that Crewlink didn’t notice the permit he’d submitted wasn’t valid before signing him up. It appears the problem was spotted by a Ryanair employee at the end of October.

Ryanair tells me he had confirmed he held a valid EU/UK passport in a virtual assessment in February 2021, but stated that his travel document was invalid for the job requirements. “Regrettably this anomaly was not identified until he started the first day of his training,” it says. “Crewlink should have clarified this issue much earlier.”

Crewlink did not respond to requests for a comment. However, within four days of my contact, and three months after ejecting him, it has apologised and offered £240 in “goodwill”. The sum covers less than a quarter of his expenses, let alone the income lost from the supermarket job he gave up and the emotional fallout of the rejection. Worcestershire county council says it has been “liaising with the airline company to understand the reasons behind their decision”.

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