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Brexit Impact - EU Residents in the UK

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 13 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
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On June 23, 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. The UK have now triggered Article 50, which is the beginning of the leaving process. However until negotiations re the terms of the UK leaving the EU are concluded, the UK remains part of the EU.

This means that currently all UK residents have the same rights re the EU as they had before the vote. Equally, EU citizens have the same rights re the UK as they had before the vote, including in respect of working and living in the UK.

So what is the current position?

  • If you have lived in the UK for over five years - If you have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for five years, you have the right to permanently live and work in the UK
  • If you are an EU national living in the UK for under five years - As an EU national, you have the right to live and work in any EU country in accordance with EU laws on free movement of people
  • If you are not from the EU but have family members who are EU nationals - Non-EU family members accompanying EU nationals to the UK can apply for a family permit to allow them to reside in the UK
  • If you are an Irish National - Irish Nationals have separate rights which allow them to be treat as a UK national for residency purposes. They are therefore able to permanently live and work in the UK

Becoming a British citizen

Another way to enable you to live and work in the UK is to register as a British Citizen. However be aware that under the laws of some countries, you lose your citizenship of that country if you become a citizen of another country.

For those under age 18:

  • Fill in form MN1 (available from the Direct Gov website or your local Citizens Advice Bureau).
  • The application must be received when the person is less than 18 years old.
  • May be automatically a British citizen in certain circumstance (e.g. if born after 30/04/06 and parent is an EEA [European Economic Area] member who has lived in the UK for over five years and has indefinite leave to remain).

For those age 18 and over:

  • Fill in form AN (available from the Direct Gov website or your local Citizens Advice Bureau).
  • Must be of good character
  • Must meet English language ability and lifestyle requirements
  • Must have lived in the UK for five years (reduced to three years if spouse or civil partner is a British citizen, and you have permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain.

What are the plans for the future?

The UK's future is currently unknown, as the terms of our exit from the EU have not been finalised. Further, any new reciprocal arrangements with other non-EU countries (which could potentially involve the free movement of people to secure trade deals) have not yet been fully explored.

The UK Prime Minister's letter to the President of the EU Council stated that the UK wishes to seek early agreement on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and of UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU on a reciprocal basis. The Prime Minister made clear that this was a priority in negotiations.

Of course in the political climate of another general election and the beginning of arrangements being made for the UK to formally leave the EU, it is easy to be sceptical about how much the UK really cares about the rights of foreign nationals living here. However if you consider the number of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU, such as on the Costa Del Sol, you can see that this will be a key issue that many UK citizens will also want clarity on ASAP.

Recently other short-term residence and work schemes have been considered. Migration Watch UK has recently proposed the introduction of two year visas for young EU citizens to enable them to come to the UK to work. However this would be on the condition that they would not be entitled to benefit from the UK Social Entitlement (benefits) system. This would be similar to the Youth Mobility Scheme currently operated by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The introduction of a short-term residence and work scheme is supported by leading companies in the hospitality business such as Pret A Manger and Whitbread. It is easy to see why; Whitbread state that around 20% of their staff are not British nationals. These proposals are currently being considered by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The result of the General Election on June 8, 2017 may to some extent effect the position of the UK Government on issues such as migration, and residence in the UK of EU nationals. However we are unlikely to know much more until the terms of the UK's exit from the EU are agreed. One thing is for sure: this is a long-term process and any changes in the rights of EU nationals to live and work in the UK will not change over-night.

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I am a Romanian national and I have registration certificate from 2012. I have lived and worked in the UK for more than 5 consecutive years. Do I still need to apply for a permanent residence card or the registration certificate is suffice? Thank you.
BR - 13-Jun-17 @ 6:26 PM
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