What does Brexit mean for EU nationals and their family members?

9 May 2017 | Brexit

Jemma Forbes who we know well at Innes Johnston Solicitors in Fife has taken time out of her busy schedule to share some really topical information about EU nationals working in the UK.

Article 50 was recently triggered, and we know from some of our customers that they are concerned (as are their affected employees) as to what this means for EU Nationals living and working in the UK.

Here, Jemma shares her thoughts on this subject.

Firstly, it is important to note that the UK remains a full member of the European Union until we formally exit in around two years time. Although Article 50 has been triggered we still remain bound by EU Law. All the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in place until then. That specifically includes the rights of Free Movement given to EU nationals and their family members.

What the law currently is in terms of Free Movement?

EU nationals are able to live and work in the UK without restriction or the requirement to apply for leave to remain or leave to enter the UK, providing that they are Exercising Treaty Rights in the UK. The term “Exercising Treaty Rights” means that EU national will be a worker, job seeker, student or a national who is self-sufficient and not reliant on public funds. If you are an EU national Exercising Treaty Rights and you have lived in the UK for less than 5 years then you can apply for a registration certificate as proof of this which may assist you in future applications. We can assist all EU Nationals to make this application.

EU nationals who have lived in the UK for more than 5 years and have continuously Exercised Treaty Rights can apply for Permanent Residence. This will not change in the short term while the UK is part of the EU. We can assist all EU Nationals to make this application.

Having Permanent Residence Status is the step towards applying to become a British Citizen. In most cases, people are able to have dual nationality and so an EU national would not have to renounce their current nationality to become British.

EU nationals who are planning to visit or live in the UK

EU nationals continue to have a right to enter and live in the UK. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU. There is no requirement for a visa application to enter the UK.

Non-EU family members of EU nationals

There will be no change to the rights and status of non-EU family members of EU nationals while the UK remains in the EU. If you’re from the EU but your family member is not, they continue to have a right to live with you in the UK. Family Members of EU nationals (or extended family members) who are not nationals of a European Member state may have to apply for proof of their right to enter or to reside in the UK. This will provide them with evidence to show potential employers that they have a right to work. This is a Residence Card. We can assist people to make this application.

When the UK officially leaves the EU what can we expect?

When the UK is no longer part of the EU, there are likely to be changes to the rights of an EU National to live and work in the UK. This leaves EU nationals (and their family members) with the feeling of uncertainty as the UK Government has not outlined any proposals in respect of these rights or what they will ask current EU nationals residing in the UK to do. There is likely to be legislation passed to allow EU Citizens to remain in the UK post-Brexit but the requirements that each European national will have to meet are unknown…. and will be dependent upon the party in Government after the next election…

  • They may need to apply for Leave to Remain and meet specific immigration rules in order to continue residing in the UK?
  • These rules may or may not be more stringent than current requirements?
  • These rules may or may not be more stringent than current requirements?
  • There may be a minimum period of residence in the UK before qualifying to remain here?
  • There may be minimum earning threshold before qualifying to reside here?
  • The may be restrictions on categories of EU family members who can apply to remain in the UK?
  • There may be larger UKBA fees associated with applications?
  • There may be very little change from EU nationals and their right to free movement?


What can you do and how can we help?

We can advise you on some of the options available to you JUST NOW which may ease some of the uncertainty.

  • Advice on Exercising Treaty Rights and the evidence you should retain.
  • Permanent Residence Documentation and applications.
  • British Citizenship requirements and the application process.
  • Residence card applications for Family Members of EU nationals.

If we can help, reach out to me via email jforbes@innesjohnston.co.uk or telephone via our website.

You can also find out more about our services here

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