As a result of the recent Brexit vote many of our clients are checking what the implications are so far as their right to remain in the UK and/or becoming British Citizens is concerned. Whilst it is always difficult to predict the future we set out below the state of the current law and how you may be able to protect yourself in light of the changes looming ahead. We hope this is of assistance and that some of your questions are answered
The decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal process of leaving the EU will be for the new Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May and Parliament. The UK remains a member of the EU throughout this process, and until Article 50 negotiations have concluded.
When we do leave the EU, it is expected that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in EU member states, will be properly protected. This is explained further below although the Prime Minister has stated that this will be part of the negotiation process.
The government has stated that it recognises and values the important contribution made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK.
I have lived in the UK for more than 5 years. What does the vote to leave the EU mean for me?
- EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 5 years automatically have a permanent right to reside. This means that they have a right to live in the UK permanently, in accordance with EU law. There is no requirement to register for documentation to confirm this status.
- EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 6 years are eligible to apply for British citizenship if they would like to do so. The eligibility requirements can be found here.
What if I have lived in the UK for less than 5 years?
EU nationals continue to have a right to reside in the UK in accordance with EU law. EU nationals do not need to register for any documentation in order to enjoy their free movement rights and responsibilities. For those that decide to apply for a registration certificate, there has been no change to government policy or processes. Applications will continue to be processed as usual.
What about Non – EU family members?
- Non-EU family members of EU nationals must continue to apply for a family permit if they wish to enter the UK under EU law, and they do not have a residence card issued by a member state. There has been no change to government policy or processes as yet, and applications will continue to be processed as usual.
- Extended family members of EU nationals must continue to apply for a registration certificate (if they are an EU national) or residence card (if they are a non-EU national) if they wish to reside in the UK. There has been no change to government policy or processes as yet, and applications will continue to be processed as usual
I am Irish – what are the implications for me?
- Irish nationals enjoy separate rights, under various pieces of legislation, which allow Irish nationals residing in the UK to be treated in the same way as British nationals in most circumstances. There is no change to this position.
I am Croatian - what are the implications for me?
- Croatian nationals might continue to need to apply for a registration certificate to be allowed to work in the UK under the transitional arrangements that were put in place when Croatia joined the EU in 2013.
- The type of registration certificate that they might need will depend on whether they need permission to work in the UK, and what they will be doing. There has been no change to government policy or processes as yet, and applications will continue to be processed as usual.
Does the government plan to remove EU nationals from the UK?
- There has been no change as yet to the right of EU nationals to reside in the UK and therefore no change to the circumstances in which someone could be removed from the UK.
- As was the case before the referendum, EU nationals can only be removed from the UK if they are considered to pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to the public, if they are not lawfully resident or are abusing their free movement rights.
What should I do now to protect myself if there is a change in law?
- You should now collate original evidence of your residence and status in the UK covering the period you have spent here to include but not limited to payslips, P60s, employment contracts, invoices, ledgers, receipts, HMRC correspondence, bank statements, council tax statements, utility bills and evidence of accommodation.
- If you have not been in employment you should obtain clear proof of comprehensive private medical insurance for any periods in the past when you were not employed or self-employed, and for any periods when you stop working in future – for example if you study, take a break between jobs or leave employment to set up a business.
- If you have been made redundant or become involuntarily unemployed you should register as a jobseeker with Jobcentre Plus. If you have been working for at least one year, are made redundant and register as a jobseeker you can maintain your status as a worker and count any such period of unemployment towards acquiring permanent residence. If you do not register as a jobseeker you must have comprehensive private medical insurance in place before the date of termination of your employment.
- Absences from the UK of more than six months in total in any year may prevent you from obtaining permanent residence after completing five years’ residence. You may be exempt if you are posted abroad for work for more than six months (but only up to a permitted one-off maximum of 12 months). You will need to obtain confirmation of the reason for the absence from your employer. If you are leaving a job, try to obtain this confirmation before you leave.
- If you have resided in the UK for at least six years in accordance with the EEA Regulations, you can apply for naturalisation as a British citizen provided you have been granted a permanent right of residence in the UK. Please note that some countries do not permit dual citizenship and you should also seek advice on what impact it will have on your tax position.
- Please note that a child born in the UK to a person with a permanent right of residence is a British citizen at birth even if the person does not possess any document confirming they have a permanent right of residence.
Whatever your personal circumstances the above is a guide only and we would always advise you to contact us to obtain definitive advice as you will appreciate that each person’s circumstances are unique to them.
We will be delighted to answer any of your questions and ask that you contact Mr Osibona by email - firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr Shabab Hamid – email@example.com or by telephone on 020 7935 3522.