What Brexit means for British and EU citizens

On 23 June, citizens of the UK made the surprising decision to leave the EU. Although this messy divorce could take up to two years, it’s still important to know how Brexit might affect you whether you’re a Briton or an EU citizen living in the UK.

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The Treaty on the European Union requires the UK to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the remaining EU member states before leaving the Union. While Brexit will affect many aspects of life in the UK for both British citizens and EU nationals, the main area of concern for those living in the UK is undoubtedly migration.

Will the UK have to curb EU migration?

Citizens of member states of the EU are allowed to move freely throughout the territory, giving them an unfettered right to live and work anywhere in the Union. As a result, there are 1.2 million Britons living throughout the EU and more than 3 million non-British EU citizens living and working in the UK.

Depending on the terms of exit negotiations, British citizens could lose their automatic right to live and work in the EU area. They will have to meet stricter requirements when applying for permits to live, work or set up businesses in the EU.

It’s even more uncertain what Brexit means for EU citizens in the UK. However, do note, residence documents issued under existing laws will continue to be valid and binding until the negotiation process is complete. So there’s no need to panic if you’re an EU national in the process of applying for British citizenship.

How to remain living and working in the UK

We advise that all qualifying EU citizens in the UK apply for residence documentation as soon as possible to ensure that they can remain in the UK on an ongoing basis.

In the future, it’s likely that EU citizens will eventually be subject to the same requirements as foreign nationals from outside of the EEA when it comes to UK migration. The harshest consequences are probably a steep increase in the application costs for residence documents and restrictions on bringing family members into the country.

The decision to leave the EU could also affect UK employers, who may be required to find local candidates to fill positions before employing EU citizens. In addition to this, they may have to ensure that European citizens have proof of their right to live and work in the UK.

If you would like to find out which residence documents you may qualify for, you can email 1st Contact Visas or call to speak to one of our advisers on +44 (0) 20 7759 7527.

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