27 June 2016
Brexit – the vote to leave the European Union has, naturally, led to a lot of uncertainty. There has been a lot of speculation and worry as to what will happen to EU citizens living in the UK and to UK citizens living in Europe. This is a brief outline of the position:
There won’t be any. The UK is still a part of the EU, and will be for at least the next two years.
The process of leaving the EU is set out in Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. It has never been used before so no one is quite sure how it will work, but the process doesn’t begin until the UK government makes a formal statement / application to start the leaving process.
On the UK side, there is no hurry to do this – the Prime Minister has said that this is a matter for his successor, and Boris Johnson, who was a leading campaigner for Brexit, has also said that there is no hurry to begin. EU ministers, on the other hand, say that there should be no delay, and the UK should start proceedings this week.
Whenever the process begins, for two years from that date the UK will continue to be a part of the EU, and nothing will change in terms of the rights of free movement.
EU citizens already in the UK
Until the UK leaves the EU, there is no change in status. It is not clear what will happen after that, but it is most likely that some sort of transitional arrangements will be put in place for people to be granted leave under the UK Immigration Rules once the UK leaves the UK.
The details of how this will work is still unknown, and it could be that different applications will need to be made depending upon whether someone already has permanent residence under EU law, was here before the vote, or comes to the UK between the vote and the time that the UK actually leaves. This is, however, just speculation at this point of time.
EU citizens coming to the UK after Brexit
Until Brexit actually happens – that is, until the UK actually leaves the EU – there is no change in the status of EU nationals coming to the UK. What happens after that is just speculation, but probably, people will need to apply for permission under the Immigration Rules if they want to live and work or study in the UK. It is very likely that people coming on holiday or short visits will still be able to travel freely.
The present Immigration Rules regarding students and workers are likely to be changed, but the government will have more immediate priorities at the moment.
UK citizens living in Europe
Until the UK actually leaves the EU, there will be no change in their status. After that it will depend upon what deals the UK negotiates with the EU, but it is very unlikely that they will not get some sort of status in their adopted countries.
Please call us on 0800 061 4128 and speak to one of our lawyers if you would like to discuss your personal circumstances. Alternately, you might want to read more on our EEA law page.