Brexit – What Does It Mean For Immigration?


The Law Of… knowing your rights after the Brexit

It has been decided by the British public, following Referendum, that the UK are to leave the European Union. For EU nationals living in the UK – there are many questions that now need to be answered.

Emma Brooksbank explains the implications of the Brexit vote.

What does leaving the European union mean for EEA nationals in the UK?

What Happens Now?

At this stage, we do not know how the Immigration Laws for European nationals will change. Change is unlikely to happen quickly but many EEA nationals would prefer to secure their permanent residence and British Citizenship to protect themselves from future changes and give themselves peace of mind.

For EEA nationals who have been enjoying living, working, and contributing to the UK – their right to free movement may now be rescinded; prompting many to apply for citizenship – but how successful will these applications be?

The current Regulations allow EU citizens and their family members to live in the UK as long as they are a "qualified person" or the family member of a qualified person. This currently covers:

  • Job-seekers and students (if they hold comprehensive sickness insurance)
  • Workers and the self-employed
  • People who are self-sufficient

Compliance with EU regulations is extremely important, and meeting the standards set by the rules is the only way to ensure a swift application.

An example of this is EU students – who must be enrolled in education, as well as having full and comprehensive sickness insurance, without which, they do not meet the standards. Some EU countries are (or have been) bound by a workers registration scheme.

The permanent residence process and the route to obtaining a British passport have become increasingly complex in recent years. Applicants now face an 85-page application form, which isn’t entirely self-explanatory.

Currently, many EU citizens are unknowingly living in the UK illegally – and with no clear guidelines of how things will pan out in the aftermath of the Brexit – it may come as a nasty shock to some to find out they are living illegally if they have lived in the UK for a number of years.

Influx of Permanent Residence and Citizenship applications

In the lead up to the referendum, the Immigration Team at Simpson Millar solicitors has seen the number of enquiries from professionals and employees from within the European Economic Area (EEA) double, as migrants seek reassurance that they will be able to remain in the UK in the event of Brexit - this number is only expected to rise now a leave vote has been confirmed.

Emma explains:

"Now, more than ever, getting an application for Permanent Residence and/or British citizenship right in the first instance is incredibly important. Getting it wrong can not only add unnecessary expense, it also could lead to a very distressing experience; this is especially true when we do not know the exact nature of how immigration law for European Nationals is going to change."

"Currently, there is no legal reason for many EU nationals to hold a British passport, but in the wake of the decision to leave the EU, there is a huge worry for those who might, in the future, not automatically have the right to live and work here. We are especially advising a large number of people who are married to European citizens but who are themselves from outside the EU."

Simpson Millar Can Help You

If the news of the Brexit vote has come as an unwelcome shock to you, or a member of your family, Simpson Millar's expert team is on hand to give you straightforward, jargon-free immigration legal advice so you know exactly where you stand.

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of immigration law can be difficult – especially now that it is uncertain which EU rules and regulations will be adopted by a post-Brexit Britain. We have proven expertise supporting many EU nationals and are also pleased to be working with our Polish department to provide immigration advice for Polish speakers. Legal advice in your own language makes things all the more simple and straightforward for you.

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