Calls for a London Visa. UK Economy in Turmoil.  Political Meltdown. Welcome to Brexit banner


Calls for a London Visa. UK Economy in Turmoil. Political Meltdown. Welcome to Brexit

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By Oshin Shahiean, of OTS Solicitors

Brexit is here. Well, not quite, we still have not triggered Article 50 yet, (more on that later). But for the 2.2 million EU nationals living, working and/or studying in the UK, the referendum result is an overwhelming betrayal.

EU workers have contributed to the UK economy for over 40 years. EU students have helped shape our universities in to the dynamic, progressive centers of learning that they are today. EU nationals who have come to this country and become self-employed have created jobs and brought with them new business ideas and models. And all EU citizens who have made Britain their home have added enormously to the nation’s culture, sporting and intellectual life.

Yet the majority of the population voted for Brexit.

Now the ramifications are setting in and the consequences of the vote have become apparent. The pound has plummeted; the stock market has experienced turmoil on a level that it has not known since 2008; credit card companies are reporting a dive in consumer spending, and quarter of Institute of Directors’ companies have issued a freeze on recruitment.

If you’re an EEA national or from outside the European Economic Area and you’re the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national, you should start the process of applying for a permanent residence Card as soon as possible.

London’s response

London is furious. Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, has called today for Mayor Sadiq Khan to set up a London visa system in partnership with the Business Advisory Council to allow skilled workers from the EU to remain in the capital.

Bucking the trend seen throughout the rest of the UK, (with the exception of Scotland), London voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Across all 33 boroughs in the capital, 59.9% (2.26 million) voted in favour of remaining in the EU. In some areas, the remain vote was more than 70%.

Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Sutton, Havering and Hillingdon were the only areas to support Brexit.

The call for a London visa came as fears grew about possible job losses in the City and elsewhere in the capital. Some estimates suggested up to 40,000 posts could be stripped from the financial services sector and moved Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt. An estimated 920,000 people work in financial and business services in London.

The Major also said he was concerned about the status of the 850,000 EU nationals living in the city.

Loss of Passporting rights

The financial sector is desperately worried about the loss of passporting rights. Mr Khan has stated that he will be pushing the Treasury to make sure passporting is top of their priority list.

The financial sector faces a huge issue if passporting rights are lost through Brexit as it means that British banks can expect reduced access to the market for financial services in the remaining 27 EU states.

Passporting allows banks and other financial companies to do business in one member state of the EU, or the slightly wider European Economic Area (EEA), and then extend their trade across the region without having to be separately authorised in each country. They can therefore offer services to EU nationals residing in any of the 27 member states or open branches across the bloc.

Financial institutions and banks base themselves typically in London, which is the continent's dominant financial centre, and use that as their headquarters for selling services across the single market.

If the banking passport is no longer available to British-based firms, then some operations would clearly have to shift to a location inside the EEA, affecting thousands of jobs and also putting London’s position as a financial capital in jeopardy. The Government would therefore have to campaign hard for passporting to continue under any new deal with the EU.

Will Article 50 ever be triggered?

There is much speculation that Article 50, the legislative mechanism by which a country can formally give notification that it will leave the EU, will never be evoked. In Monday’s edition of The Guardian, Geoffrey Robertson QC, who founded Doughty Street Chambers stated that a new bill to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act that took Britain into the EU must now be passed by Parliament for Britain to leave the EU.

Mr Robertson also stated that MPs were duty-bound to vote against the bill if they believed that it was not the best course of action for the country.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has made clear that there will be no informal talks with Britain until Article 50 is triggered. She also stated that there would be no room for the cherry-picking of EU rules; Europe wants us all in or all out.

What next?

As mentioned above, it is imperative that EU nationals and family or extended family members of EU nationals who are eligible for a permanent residence Card should apply for one straight away. To be eligible, you must have been living in the UK and exercising your Treaty rights for at least five years.

Non-EU citizens who are family members of EU nationals can also apply for a permanent residence card if they are:

  • a spouse or civil partner
  • a child or grandchild who is under 21 or a dependant
  • a dependent parent or grandparent
  • an unmarried partner
  • another relative (but only under certain circumstances)

However, if Britain leaves the EU, permanent residence cards will have no legal standing in the UK because they are simply state the rights a person has under EU law, which will no longer apply. Therefore, the safest method for assuring your residency is to apply for British Citizenship, which you can do 12 months after gaining permanent residence status.

To find out more, please feel free to call our London office.

OTS Solicitors is a fully regulated, highly regarded law firm, based in the centre of London. To make an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors in relation to obtaining a UK permanent residence Card or British Citizenship, please phone us on 0203 959 9123.

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