Brexit: What the EU referendum means for European nationals living in the UK

By MediVisas on March 23, 2016 in Immigration
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Are you a EEA national living in the UK?  Are you concerned that the UK may vote to leave the EU, and worried about the impact this may have on you?  If so, this short article is for you.

As we all know, on 23rd June 2016, British and Irish nationals living in the UK will take to the polls to decide on the UK’s future in the EU.  At the moment there is no clear idea about which way the polls will go, but it’s clear that a vote to leave, or ‘Brexit’, will have an impact on the two million or so EEA nationals living in the UK.  So, what will this impact be?

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing.  We don’t know what agreements would be made with regard to either EU nationals in the UK or UK nationals living elsewhere in the EEA.  OISC advisor Victoria Sharkey, herself a dual UK and Irish national, gives her thoughts on the matter.

“First of all, I don’t believe that Irish nationals will have their status changed.  The Common Travel Area existed before the EU did, and Irish nationals have always had a special status in UK law, since the partition and the formation of the Free State in 1922.  Bearing in mind the large number of Irish nationals living in the UK, approximately 600,000, including many who were born in the UK and who have lived here their whole lives.  Much of the population of Northern Ireland also hold Irish passports and it would be unthinkable for the government to give them a choice to leave their homes or obtain British passports.  As a result of this, I don’t think there is any reason for concern for holders of Irish passports.

For nationals of other EEA countries, I can’t give anything like the same assurances.  It may well be that those in work are permitted to remain, with employers given a period of time to register or obtain work permits for their EEA national staff.  It may be that EEA nationals with British children or partners will be given an opportunity to register and stay, or it may be that all EEA nationals already in the UK will be allowed to stay.  I don’t see it as at all possible that the government would simply expel all EEA nationals.  Not only would it cause an absolute political and diplomatic crisis with countries with whom we still have to trade, as the UK will remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights even in the event of Brexit it would be a breach of our obligations under this treaty to act in such a way.

So should you be worried?  I’d say that you probably shouldn’t worry too much, after all we don’t know how the country will vote, but it’s a good idea to plan just in case.  This means registering your residence, obtaining evidence of PR, or if possible naturalising.”

Registering is a fairly straight forward process, using form EEA (QP).  Download here and you can almost certainly make this application yourself.

Applying for a Permanent Residence  certificate is a little more complex.  Using form EEA(PR) Download here

You need to prove that you have been exercising your treaty rights over the past five years, or indeed throughout any five year period, and we recommend getting legal assistance with this.  Over the past few years we have seen these applications get harder and the Home Office request more and more documentation to prove PR, and the guidance and recommended list of documents published by the Home Office really doesn’t cover everything.

Once you have held PR for 12 months, or if you can show that you achieved PR at least 12 months ago, then most EEA nationals can apply for British citizenship.  Since last year it is now mandatory for an applicant to get their PR recognised before they can apply for citizenship.  You will need to have passed your Life in the UK Test to apply for citizenship, even though this is not needed for PR, and you will also need to show that you meet the English language criteria.

Update: 2pm 24th June.

Like everybody else we’re coming to terms with today’s news. 
We’d like to take a little time and see what official steps are taken. 
If you’d like us to keep you up to date with news and views over the coming months – please, click here and just hit send. 
We’ll only send you Brexit info – we’re not into spam so you won’t get anything else.

 
If you require any further information on this, please do not hesitate to contact MediVisas on 0207 953 3090 or contact us.

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