As the date for the referendum on whether or not Britain should remain in the EU edges ever closer, the Home Office is experiencing a flood of enquiries from worried EU nationals residing in the UK.  Will they be thrown out of the country if Britain leaves the EU?  Must they apply for some type of visa to remain living in the UK?  These are the types of questions being directed to the Home Office and our solicitors every day.

Many clients who are coming to us enquiring about the consequences of a possible Brexit have lived in the UK for decades and have no social or cultural ties to their original home country anymore.  For many Britain’s living in other EU states, the same circumstances apply.

Naturally, people are concerned about what will happen to their immigration status if a Brexit occurs.  If you are one of them, then this article is designed to assure you that change is unlikely to happen quickly, (nothing concerning EU policy ever does) and that there are steps you can take today to ensure your right to remain in the UK is cemented, allowing you can carry on with your day to day life as normal, regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Permanent Residence

If you are an EEA national, a Permanent Residence card can provide you with the peace of mind that you can freely enter and exit the UK and partake in gainful employment.  If you have a Permanent Residence card, you will still maintain the free movement rights you enjoyed as an EU citizen, even if Britain does chose to leave the Union.

To apply for a Permanent Residence card you must have lived in the UK continuously for five years.

Obtaining British Citizenship

The number of EU citizens living in Britain who have applied for British citizenship has jumped up by 25 percent between the final quarters of last year.  The cost for an application is £1,005 and applicants must pass a Life in the UK Test and an approved English language test.

To apply for British Citizenship, you must have lived in the UK for six or more years.  The British Nationality Act 1981 governs the procedures for applications for British Citizenship, and under the Act applicants must also show that they are of ‘good character’, have been exercising their EU Treaty rights during the time that they have resided in the UK and meet the residence requirements.

By having British Citizenship, you will be entitled to everything a person born in the UK enjoys, including healthcare, education and the right to vote.

In Summary

In theory, a Leave vote on the 23rd June 2016 could leave some EU nationals without an automatic right to stay in Britain, meaning they would have to apply for a visa to continue living and working in this country.  However, by obtaining a Permanent Residence card or gaining British Citizenship, you can enjoy the stability of knowing that your right to remain in the UK is sound, regardless of the results of the referendum.

Sultan Lloyd Solicitors have the experience and expertise required to successfully advise individuals on obtaining both a Permanent Residence card and/or British Citizenship.  To find out how we can help you, please contact our Birmingham office on 0121 222 7643.