According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey estimates for 2015, there are 3.3 million EU citizens residing in the UK. The ONS Labour market statistics estimate that of the EU born migrants in the UK, 2.1 million are currently employed. Following last Friday’s shocking referendum result and the UK’s decision to leave the EU, there is now the very real possibility that EU citizens currently in the UK will lose their automatic right to come and work in the UK. It is also more likely that EU citizens will face restrictions and barriers in the form of work permits and visas. Reports now indicate that there is now a rush for EEA nationals to obtain a permanent residence card and or naturalisation before the UK officially leaves the EU.Brexit Aftermath: EEA Nationals applying for Permanent Residence (UK Passport via naturalisation)
Impact of Brexit on EU Nationals in UK
Withdrawal from the European Union is a right of EU member states under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. Article 50 will allow the UK to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. The UK is now required to notify the European Council of its intention – European leaders have already expressed their wishes for the UK to invoke Article 50 “as soon as possible” as they attempt to end the uncertainty over the bloc.
Once Britain invokes Article 50, it will have 2 years in which to negotiate a new treaty to replace the terms of EU membership. This means that there will be no immediate consequences for EU nationals in the UK and free movement of people will continue. EEA nationals who have been residing in the UK for at least 5 years and have been exercising their Treaty Rights (by working, being self-employed or studying) may wish to consider their options for applying for a Permanent Residence Card. This would be equivalent to “Indefinite Leave to Remain” under the UK Immigration Rules and may allow them to naturalise as a British citizen after a year.
EU citizens may wish to consider their options of applying for a registration certificate which will prove their right to live and a work in the UK – it may not be enough to just show your passport to your employer.
Further, EEA nationals who have been residing in the UK for at least 5 years and have been exercising their Treaty Rights (by working, being self-employed or studying) may wish to consider their options of applying for an EEA Permanent Residence Card. This would be equivalent to “Indefinite Leave to Remain” under the UK immigration rules.
EEA Permanent Residence Card/British citizenship (Naturalisation)
In the United Kingdom, the current immigration rules governing a right of permanent residence fall under Regulation 15 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (EEA Regulations). Regulation 18 of the EEA Regulations governs the documents which can be held as evidence of a right of permanent residence. In the case of EEA citizens, this is known as a “document certifying permanent residence”, for non-EEA family member; this is known as a “permanent residence card”.
EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members who have been residing and exercising their treaty rights in the UK for lengthy periods of time who wish to acquire British Citizenship after obtaining permanent residency will need to hold the residence card for a year before they can apply for naturalisation.
For naturalisation purposes those who make naturalisation applications on or after 12 November 2015 must demonstrate their right of permanent residence through the forms of documents mentioned under the EEA 2006 Regulations. The 2006 EEA Regulation itself has not changed nor have the provisions governing acquisition of citizenship by children.
Successful EEA Permanent Residence & Naturalisation Applications
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.