The Brittany-born baker, who owns a cooking school and bakery in Bath, was initially denied settled status having applied to the scheme after seeing coverage of it on the news.
Left feeling “angry and confused”, Bertinet appealed the decision and this morning (6 September) received an email confirming that his application had now been approved.
“It’s been an adventure,” Bertinet tells BigHospitality.
“What immediately struck me is the sense of relief.
“This isn’t a situation I ever thought I’d be faced with, and I have spent the last week or so just scratching my head and wondering ‘why is was happening’.”
As part of the government’s post-Brexit plans, EU citizens must apply via the settlement scheme if they wish to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.
Bertinet adds that while his own status is now settled, many others are struggling to have their voices heard
“There’s a massive queue of people behind me who need to be helped as well. And so I’m going to carry on doing what I can to raise this issue with the government, to make sure we can get as many people settled as possible.”
Bertinet has also reaffirmed to BigHospitality the need for employers to make sure all EU staff are applying under the Settlement Scheme, and to support them in doing so.
“I’ve spoken to a few French colleagues of mine and they’ve told me they’re scared to apply now because of what they’ve seen happening to me and to others,” he tells us.
“It’s hard for them to understand that they might be rejected, but they need to apply.
“If they’ve been here for five years or more then they have every right to stay here, and though they might have to fight for it their application will go through.”
Polish-born Damian Wawrzyniak, who also hit headlines recently after his own application was initially only approved for a pre-settled status, has set up a support page on Facebook where people facing similar circumstances can receive help and advice from qualified immigration officers free of charge.
“More than 5m have been speaking about this on social media in the last few days,” he told BigHospitality last week.
“And it’s becoming clear that lots of people are facing the same problem; the difference is they don’t have the same levels of press coverage to help support them.”
In response, a Home Office spokesperson said: “EU citizens are our friends, family and neighbours and we want them to stay.
“Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is quick and easy, and over a million people have been granted status so far in the first few months since fully launching.
“Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status. EU Settlement Scheme statistics confirm that by the end of June not a single person had been refused.
“There is plenty of support available if people need help, and they have until at least December 2020 to apply.”