What Will Happen to EU Citizens in the UK in the Event of Brexit…?

Guest Post

The promised EU referendum, awarded the unfortunate moniker of ‘Brexit’ by the British press, is drawing nearer. Currently, there isn’t a confirmed date for the vote, but we do know that it will not be on 5th May 2016, the day when the public will vote on the devolution of the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh Parliaments.

David Cameron promised in the run up to the 2015 election that the referendum will take place before the end of 2017, and a recent BBC News article speculated about the pros and cons of potential dates between now and then.

It’s certain that should the public vote in favour of leaving the EU there will be major changes. The debate rages on about whether or not these changes will have a positive or negative impact on the state of the nation.


However, one unavoidable point that has not been widely discussed in the media is that EU nationals who have made their home in the UK will find their circumstances change overnight if Britain decides to abandon the union.

Freedom of movement is one of the founding principles of the European Union and plenty of citizens from member states have taken full advantage of this perk, moving across the continent and settling outside of their sovereign nation.

It is estimated that there are currently within the region of 2 million EU nationals living and working in the UK who would face an uncertain future is the so-called Brexit came to be.
UK nationals who’ve made their home in the EU may also find themselves in a similar situation, suddenly being classified as illegal immigrants if the British public decides it’s time to leave the EU behind.

If the Brexit does happen, then hundreds of thousands of EU nations who have been living in the UK for years may find themselves very suddenly in need of a visa, or a plane ticket home.

At Carter Law, specialist Immigration Solicitors based in Manchester, our team have been keeping a close eye on the situation. Without a set date for the referendum, the serious campaigning hasn’t even started, but we’re keen to be in a position to help as many people as possible should the UK leave the union.

Hasty changes to the UK Immigration Law to accommodate for the outcome of the UK leaving could further complicate matters. Questions have been raised about whether citizens of more affluent states, such as Germany or France may be given preferential treatment over those from poorer EU nations, Bulgaria for example.

Many EU citizens who call UK home are anticipating something which, in their eyes is a worst case scenario, and asking “will I need a visa?”. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough information available to immigration solicitors currently, so we must wait patiently to see what happens.

Hopefully, as a date is confirmed and the time to vote draws nearer, there will be some consideration given to those who would be directly affected by the Brexit.


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