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The Fate Of EU Nationals After Brexit


With a no deal scenario becoming ever more likely, it is hardly a surprise that EU nationals residing in the UK are concerned about their future prospects. At this stage in the proceedings it's going to be extremely hard to tell which direction the Brexit negotiations will take next. While theoretically all the negotiations have now finished, it is clear that the deal that British prime minister Theresa May has brought back to parliament is not going to pass. There is a significant amount of resistance to the bill and there needs to be new options offered quickly.

So what happens if we end up with no deal? The consequences of a no deal Brexit could be catastrophic for the country. The UK is simply not prepared for a no deal due to the government’s insistence that a deal with the EU was always going to happen. The fallout of this move towards a no deal is also affecting the inner sanctum of the cabinet, as one the prime minister's closest allies, justice secretary David Gauke, has noted that he would leave the cabinet in the face of a no deal. This would be a blow to Theresa May - one of her senior allies walking out could prompt a raft of resignations and throw the cabinet into even further difficulty.

What We Know

At this stage it is more about what we don't know than what we do. For two years we have been expecting a deal to be thrashed out between Britain's Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the EU's negotiating team in Brussels. Often these negotiations have felt more like a Punch and Judy show than a serious set of negotiations. Even the most casual observer could see that the negotiations were a struggle, but deep down the expectation was that a deal would be done.

The good thing for EU nationals living in the UK is that it is very unlikely that their rights to remain in the UK will be removed. Not only would it be politically damaging to remove the rights of those already residing in the UK, it would also cast the UK in a very ugly light and do little for their global standing as an ambassador of relations. Apart from this, there is also the number of British citizens living inside the EU to consider. A joint report by the EU and Britain's Office of National Statistics quoted the number of those born in Britain living in the EU (excluding the UK) was 1.3 million. While it is estimated that 3.8 million EU born citizens live in the UK, repatriating 1.3 million citizens to the UK would be an unimaginable task. For this reason alone, the rights of EU citizens in the UK is likely to be safe for many years to come.

Worst Case Scenario

So is the worst case scenario for EU nationals living in the UK? As stated in the last section, the removal of rights for the estimated 3.8 million EU nationals currently residing in the UK is extremely unlikely. That being said, the fate of EU nationals is potentially a strong lever for the British government to negotiate with the European Union. Will they use it? This is the crucial question that realistically cannot be answered. Political desperation will be what decides how the UK proceeds from here. So while it is extremely unlikely that the rights of EU nationals will be revoked, it isn't impossible.

With all this in mind, what can you do to resolve your own situation? At this moment in time the best option for EU citizens to remain in the UK is by applying for Permanent Residence. Permanent Residence allows EU nationals who have lived in the UK for at least 5 years (will need to be proved) the right to indefinitely stay in the UK and even apply for a British passport. If you plan to stay in the UK, Permanent Residence is likely your best option. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss your case further and we'll be more than happy to help.

Is There A Way For The UK To Remain In The EU?

Absolutely there is. Right from the very beginning, heads of other European States noted that at any stage Britain could change its mind and remain a member of the European Union. It is the political will of the British that will likely stop this from happening. The referendum in 2016 was a pivotal point in British politics, those in Westminster are all too sensitive to the idea that turning over the result of the referendum would be a terrible idea.

Even the most ardent remainers would struggle to convince anyone that overturning the result of such a high turnout poll would be a good idea. It would essentially ignore the will of the people. A poll with 72.2% turnout (46,501,241 votes cast) makes it the highest in recent memory for any vote. Whilst many do not agree with the result, it is undoubted who won it. With this in mind, remaining in the European Union is clearly off the cards.

Who Can I Talk To About My Own Circumstances?

If you are an EU national currently living in the UK and would like help or advice then please get in touch. Our immigration specialists can help to assess your situation and give you practical advice to help secure your status in the UK. We understand that many of you are concerned about your immigration status, and a chat with a member of our team may help to set your mind at ease. So for advice with this, or indeed any other immigration query, get in touch and we'll be only too happy to help.

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