UK Immigration: Rights of EEA Nationals in the UK following BREXIT

Following last month’s EU Referendum, our London immigration solicitors have seen a huge rise in immigration enquiries from EEA nationals and their non-EEA national family members who are concerned about their immigration status in the UK.

The EU Referendum resulted in an overall vote to leave the EU (BREXIT), yet over the weekend thousands of demonstrators marched through London to protest against the EU referendum decision. It is clear the country is split and many believe that EEA nationals contribute positively to British society and EU migration should not be restricted.

Rights of EEA Nationals to Live & Work in UK

The Free Movement of Persons Directive 2004/EC sets out the right of EEA nationals and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the EEA member states – including the UK.

EEA nationals are therefore free to the enter the UK and all that is required of them, is to show a valid European passport of a national ID check. Once in the UK, EEA nationals are entitled to reside in the UK for an initial period of 3 months without needing to exercise their treaty rights. If thereafter, an EEA national wishes to continue residing in the UK, they must then exercise their treaty rights and become a “Qualified Person.” This is an important fact which has been ignored by those arguing against EU migration in the UK.

Exercising Treaty Rights: What is a Qualified Person?

In order to remain in the UK, EEA nationals are expected to exercised their Treaty Rights. This means they must be a Qualified Person. A Qualified Person is defined as follows:

  • Job seeker: EEA nationals must be able to demonstrate they are genuinely seeking employment and there is a good chance they will become employed
  • Worker: An EEA national can either work part time or full time, it can be permanent or temporary employment but the EU Worker must be able to demonstrate they pay taxes in the UK
  • Self-employed: The EEA national must be able to show they have established themselves in the UK. They may be a director/shareholder of a limited company in the UK or may be a sole trader.
  • Self-sufficient: EEA nationals wishing to rely on their self-sufficiency must be able t demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate themselves without recourse to public funds. EEA nationals must also have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI).
  • Student: EEA nationals must be able to show that they are enrolled at an educational establishment in the UK and they must have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI).

EEA Permanent Residence Card: 5 Years Residence

Our immigration lawyers have seen a huge surge in immigration enquiries from clients who wish to settle in the UK following many years of exercising their treaty rights. Many EEA nationals we have spoken to over the last few years have become accustomed to British society and have made the UK their home.

However, following BREXIT, they now fear that their lives in the UK may become disrupted in the near future. Many have met and married British nationals and have decided to settle in the UK so they can raise their children here.

British leaders have not invoked Article 50 yet and demonstrators yesterday called for a delay and even a new EU referendum as they felt the Leave campaign had misled the British people. Nevertheless, those who want certainty should consider their options of applying for an EEA Permanent Residence Card which will bar them from immigration restrictions.

British Nationality for EEA Nationals following BREXIT

EEA Nationals who currently hold an EEA Permanent Residence card and have held the same for at least 1 year, may wish to consider their options of naturalising as a British citizen. Nationality rules are complex and citizenship is a privilege granted to those who the Home Office consider to be of “good character.”

There are different ways you can naturalise as a British citizen and the eligibility criteria is complex. It is recommended applicants submit a properly executed application with the requisite documentation to ensure the best chance of success. Failure to do so, could lead to delays and immigration rules may change.

Legal Advice from UK Immigration Solicitors on BREXIT

If you wish to consider your options following BREXIT or are concerned about your current position in the UK, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your matter and if necessary advise you of the next steps you should take in a consultation.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

If you need professional legal advice please contact us for a case assessment on  02071830570. You can also reach us via our WebChat facility or via our contact form. Please note that we are not able to provide any free legal advice.

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