Following the referendum decision to leave the EU, we recognise that this has caused a great deal of confusion, concern and worry amongst people regarding the impact on their immigration status. In order to address those fears, Howe & Co have prepared a summary of the current position and how the situation is likely to unfold in the near and continuing future.
The Position today
The biggest impact will be on those who are relying on European Law either on the basis that they are an EEA national or are linked to an EEA national in some way, such as marriage or children.
The immediate impact in terms of the law following the referendum decision, is that there is no change. The vote was simply establishing the will of the people but has no legal effect on the status of EEA nationals and their families.
This means that EEA nationals and their families can continue to apply to come to the UK and remain in the UK as before. However, it would be prudent take steps to start to make an EEA application sooner rather than later where possible. As will be seen below the future is not entirely clear and the sooner you submit the application (where allowed) to do so, the better.
People who are not EEA nationals or related to one will not be affected in any way at this stage.
The Position during the next two years
As stated above there will be no change in people’s current status or for people submitting new applications at this time, although there maybe an impact in the future. The next step would be for the UK Government to start the legal process of leaving the EU. However, leaving the EU is not an automatic process – it has to be negotiated with the remaining members. This process is unlikely to start within the next two years as it is expected that there will be a period of negotiations between the UK and the EU on the terms of exiting the EU.
During the period of negotiations there will be no change in the status of new or existing EEA nationals and their families. It has been said by the Leave campaign, that even after the negotiations are complete, those who are already in the UK will be allowed to stay. However, there have been calls for the UK to set out exactly where it stands in relation to
free movement in order to reassure the 2.9 million EU citizens living in the UK that they will not be deported.
The Position after two years
It is expected that the negations will take approximately two years. At this time, nobody knows what the position regarding immigration will be thereafter in relation to immigration. This will be dependant upon the terms that are agreed during the period of negotiations mentioned above.
It is expected that the UK will come to agreement on new rules for EEA nationals to come and remain in the UK or alternatively that EEA nationals and their families will simply be subject to the ordinary immigration rules applicable to current non EEA nationals.
It is expected that the UK government will wait until the negotiations are complete before starting the process of exit from the EU. This process is started by the UK government activating Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty – setting in motion the formal legal process of withdrawing from the EU.
It is open to the UK government to decide to simply ignore the whole process of Article 50 and simply write the EU out of its laws, although that would make future negotiations very difficult.
Your next step
Where an EEA national or family member are entitled to apply for Permanent Residence or British citizenship, it would be extremely advisable to do so as soon as possible. In order to assess your particular case and circumstances in light of the above changes, we are offering a consultation for £100 plus vat (where applicable).