What happens to EU citizens in the UK if we leave the EU?

A referendum on the so-called ‘Brexit’, the UK leaving the EU is looming. It’s clear that should Britain decide to leave the union there will be some pretty significant changes. Whether these changes will be for better or for worse is open to debate, but it is certain that for the many EU nationals living in the UK, a referendum in favour of the Brexit will have implications.

Currently citizens of EU member states are afforded the luxury of freedom of movement, which is one of the fundamental principles of the union. As a citizen of the union you can live, work and settle wherever you please; for those from the EU living in the UK already, there is uncertainty about what a UK vote to leave would mean.

So far there isn’t a confirmed date for the referendum; all that is certain is that it will not take place on 5th May 2016, the day when elections for the devolution of the Scottish, Norther Irish and Welsh parliaments will take place.

David Cameron has pledged that the referendum will go ahead before the end of 2017. A recent BBC News article discusses potential dates for the vote to happen.

Should the UK leave the union, then the hundreds of thousands of people from EU member states who’ve settled and made their homes in Britain may find themselves displaced. Current UK Immigration Law would need to be updated quickly to stipulate the visa requirements for people from EU member states.

Conversely, a similar situation for UK nationals who’ve made their home on the continent who may, in the event of the UK leaving the EU, find themselves classified as illegal immigrants.

There has been some speculation in the press that allowances would likely put in place that were favourable to citizens from affluent member states such as France and Germany, whilst those from poorer economies like Romania may be faced with more demanding requirements.

Although the EU referendum has been widely discussed, particularly in the run to the 2015 election, very few column inches have touched upon the effect that a UK-exit would have upon EU citizens who already call the UK home.

Carter Law’s team of specialist immigration solicitors in Manchester are paying close attention to this situation and preparing for an eventuality where a number of people already living in the UK will need assistance quickly acquiring visas.

We hope that as the referendum draws nearer more thought will be given to what this will mean for those EU citizens who live in the UK and UK Immigration Law.

Jack MacMichael – Carter Law Solicitors