Brexit: How Will This Affect EU Nationals Residing in the UK?

Whilst the country is coming to terms with the outcome of Brexit, it is important for us to not forget EU nationals who are currently working in the UK and to understand how they may be affected by this significant change.

For most EU nationals residing in the UK, the most important question is: “Can I still live in the UK?”

The short answer to this is ‘YES’. All EU nationals that are currently working and living in the UK will continue to have the right to remain until new legislation suggests otherwise. In any event, the divorce proceedings between the EU and the UK cannot commence until Parliament has decided to notify the European Council of their intention to leave, which will trigger a 2 year negotiation period to secure the UK’s position with Europe. There is still some time to secure residence status in the country prior to the formal UK exit from the EU.

It is important that EU nationals do not panic with the prospect of possible departure from the EU as there are likely to be transitional arrangements in place to secure future status for those who have already been residing here and have acquired rights.

How can EU nationals confirm their status?

Any EU nationals living and working in the UK for less than five years, should seek to obtain a Residence Certificate to confirm immigration status as a worker, self-employed person or self-sufficient person, depending on the category under which they qualify.

The Residence Certificate is a document confirming an EU national’s right to work and reside in the UK. This document will allow the UK authorities to recognise that the EEA national has already been exercising their rights with entitlement to continue to live in the UK. Although this process is generally not considered a requirement under existing European regulations, this is a document issued by the UK Home Office to cement the fact that EU nationals have been exercising their rights.

In essence, should there be any further legislative measures to decide on the fate of EU nationals already here, this certificate is likely to be a key piece of evidence to assert an EEA national’s acquired rights established prior to the enforcement of any new policy by the UK government.

How can an EU national reside in the UK permanently?

For those that have been working and residing in the UK for over five years, the option to apply for a Permanent Residence Card should be considered.

This document certifies the right of any EU national who has acquired permanent residence in the UK to continue to remain. Once an EU national has obtained this document, it is very unlikely that any future legislative measures (following the formal departure of the UK from the EU) will affect their residence status.

Furthermore, as of November 2015, by virtue of changes in Home Office policy, this document has become a requirement to secure British Citizenship for EU nationals. Therefore making such an application is highly recommended.

Will dual citizenship be an option?

As most EU countries allow dual citizenship, British citizenship is certainly an attractive option for those who require security or certainty of their status in the UK. Having two passports provides EU nationals with more options for travel rather than hinder any existing status.

EU nationals residing in the UK for five years or more may become eligible for British citizenship if they have already qualified for permanent status and have maintained such status for a period of no less than 12 months.

Obtaining British citizenship (where desired) will secure an EU national and their family’s future in the UK, irrespective of any legislative changes in the future.

Our advice

As with all legal processes (especially with immigration), there is never a quid pro quo solution and each process step can be very complex and time consuming.

We advise all companies to identify and make a list of all EU nationals currently working in the UK within their organisation. We can categorise the eligibility for all these employees and provide clients with a timetable of steps to be taken. Our recommendation is to take a proactive approach to addressing this issue to ensure employees concerns are addressed without delay.

We are offering clients free onsite consultations with their employees to help establish immediate measures that can be put in place to protect talent and resources during this period of uncertainty.

We are also supporting clients with British nationals currently living and working in Europe. We will provide advice specific to any location within the EU as required.

Newland Chase is committed in providing the most effective and practical solutions to all EU nationals to ensure there is minimal impact to an individual’s right to live and work in the UK during Brexit.

We have a dedicated European Legal Team providing advice and assistance with all queries and concerns in relation to this matter. For further information please contact us at enquiries@newlandchase.com.

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