The only thing we know for sure after the UK has voted to leave the European Union is that we don’t know anything for sure. No one seems to be able to tell exactly what happens next.
A lot of people are directly affected by Brexit. Even though we don’t know precisely how things will change in the next few years, we do know that a lot of things will be different.
Based on the information we have so far, we’re going to talk more about the current situation of EU immigrants living in the United Kingdom right now.
How Will EU Citizens Living in the UK Be Affected by Brexit?
Approximately 3 million EU immigrants live in the UK right now, and for a part of them, the future is unsure. For now, there have been no changes regarding rights and status of EU nationals in the UK.
However, for EU immigrants who are directly affected by Brexit, that offers little or no guarantee in the long run.
1. People Who Have Lived in the UK for Five Years or More Have a Permanent Right to Reside
Those are the people who are probably going to be the least affected by Brexit.
According to the EU law, those who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for five years have a permanent right to reside. It means they won’t have any immigration restrictions.
However, getting a document that certifies permanent residence is not the same thing as having citizenship. You are eligible to apply for British citizenship if you’ve lived in the UK for a minimum of five years.
2. EU Citizens Who Have Lived in the UK for Less Than Five Years Can Reside as Long as They Are Exercising Treaty Rights
You are considered to be exercising Treaty Rights if you are:
- Self-sufficient or looking for work
Once you get a permanent residence card, you won’t have to prove that you are exercising Treaty Rights in the UK anymore.
If you’ve lived in the UK for at least three months, you can apply for an EEA registration certificate. This document doesn’t offer you the right to reside permanently in the UK. However, it will make it easier for you to access certain benefits.
3. There’s No Guarantee That People Will Be Able to Bring Their Family Members into the Country after the Official Exit Date
In the short term, there won’t be any changes to anyone’s circumstances. However, it’s very likely that new rules would come into force at the end of the negotiation process.
EU Nationals resident in the UK will probably be allowed to stay. However, there’s no way of telling if they would be able to bring their families, and under what conditions.
4. Existing Immigrants Were Promised They’ll Get to Keep Their Rights – But Not Everyone Agrees
UK officials have vowed time and time again to protect the rights of immigrants living in the UK.
However, an online survey showed that 25% of Britons do not agree that existing immigrants should keep their rights.
If more people start to think this way, they may start to put pressure on the government. Again, at this point, it seems like everything is up for negotiation, which only adds more and more layers of uncertainty.
5. EU Immigrants Are Likely to Face More Adversity
There’s no reason to beat around the bush about this: Immigration was used as a negative campaign issue, and it won.
The ”Leave” campaign opened up a Pandora’s box of animosity and distrust, which caused an increase of racist incidents.
Unfortunately, there’s no sign of things getting better in the future, at least not anytime soon.
Think You May Be in an Uncertain Position?
You’ve noticed the word uncertainty come up a lot in this article.
This ambiguity can cause a lot of damage, which is why we recommend you take action and secure your status as soon as possible.
If you’re an immigrant living in the UK right now, and you are worried about your status in the country, we can help.
You can start by booking a free 30-minute consultation, and tell us more about your particular situation and how you were affected by Brexit.