The last two quarters of 2016 have seen more than 12,800 EU citizens have their Permanent Residence applications refused, in a rejection rate of around 28%.
According to a recent analysis of government’s migration data, over a quarter EU nationals have had their permanent residence application rejected since the referendum vote. And if the government made it a mandatory criteria for all EU citizens to have permanent residency post Brexit, it could mean that 800,000 EU citizens are left without certainty of their residence status in the UK post-Brexit.
These shocking stats not only reveal the current state of uncertainty and chaos, with regards EU citizens continuing rights to reside in the UK, it further highlights the reality and fears that EU citizens have had as a result of the referendum vote.
These stats points to fact that there is now an increase in the number of EEA applications been processed by the Home Office. It also suggests that a large number of European nationals living in the UK, notwithstanding how long they have stayed in the UK may not qualify for permanent residence.
The current requirement for EEA nationals to qualify for permanent residence in the UK is that they must have lived in the United Kingdom for at least 5 years whilst exercising their treaty rights. The exercise of treaty rights (working, studying or self-employed) and continuous residence for 5 years go hand in hand in order to qualify for permanent residence.
Political observers make the case that there has to be a cut-off point for when EU citizens will no longer have automatic rights to reside in the UK. A few have suggested that it may be the day the British Prime Minister, Theresa May triggered Article 50.
Understand that these are just assumptions; though they may appear logical in their arguments, they remain assumptions. The facts and truths will be unveiled as the negotiations with the EU proceeds.
The best advice for European nationals at this point is to immediately have their applications processed; to at least have some form of document showing that they are in the UK and they are exercising treaty rights in the UK.
The UK is still in the EU and may remain in the EU for the next two years at least. As such, EU laws will continue to apply, till we eventually leave the bloc.
As with other aspects of post Brexit, the shape of the new immigration policy will be formed as discussions and negotiations progress.
Theresa May, the British Prime minister have however hinted that it will not be a full scale Point Based System if at all the UK will adopt it. She was asked about the adoption of Point Based Systems on the plane to the G20 summit in China, she told journalists: “You really don’t want to ask a former Home Secretary about the intricacies of a points-based system…” She was of the opinion that Point Based System did not give the immigration control that was required.
Point Based System has been criticized as unsuitable for the UK because the objective of the British Government is to cut migration. Australia, Canada and New Zealand on the other hand use it to expand their population. Migration Watch called it “thoroughly unsuitable” for adoption in the UK. Rightly pointing out that a low cap, visa system and proper border checks will be a better fit for the UK given its migration objectives.
In London, a No.10 spokesman removed any doubt, toughening up that stance by stating: “A points-based system will not work and is not an option.”
I don’t see a situation where the British government will undertake an unreasonable mass deportation of EU nationals who came to the UK legally under the European laws; who probably might have established family life and ties here.
Depending on how the discussion goes, there are talks of “implementation periods” and cut of periods.
It will also be naïve to think that European nationals will continue to have rights of residence in the UK.
It is also not unreasonable to conceive a scenario where the UK incorporates EEA regulations into British laws and apply it to European Nationals who have valid leaves to remain the country.
The British Prime Minister have repeatedly assured residents and businesses that there would be no cliff edge scenarios. There however may still be a cut-off date, EEA nationals arriving after that date may have to apply under the immigration rules.
It is important to understand the real argument for “taking back control of our borders” in the light of Brexit and EEA residents in the UK. Away from all the politicking and Leave vs Remain political-score-point based argument. In intellectual and objective terms, taking back border control refers to a substantial degree of regulation on who comes in and goes out of the country.
At times where the government feels they need to get in more people, they open the borders; by relaxing immigration rules. When they feel there is a strategic need to reduce the number, they simply tighten up immigration rules.
One can reasonably expect that this is going to be the situation post Brexit.
Having gone through debates about uncertainties and assumptions, one thing at least remain sure; and that is the fact that the UK will leave the EU and the freedom of movement will cease to exist “in its current form” at least. EEA nationals in the UK should apply for documents that confirm that rights to reside in the UK. Whether it is going to be a Point Based System, a comprehensive visa system, migration cap, any other thing, the UK is heading towards a place where only those who are needed and will make positive impact in the UK will be welcome. Therefore if you are in the UK and are not working, it may be time to begin to apply for a job and contribute meaningfully to the society you live in.
If you have any question about any part of this article or need help with your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration lawyers for a free initial assessment over the phone: 02037442797. You can also send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website immigrationlawyers-london.com.