EU citizens’ rights in the UK after Brexit

 

“Act now’” is the best advice – a clarion call for action by EU citizens and their employers

 

Is it time for EU citizens living in the UK to panic? After all, we have 72 days to go until the 31 October. No, definitely not, say Top London immigration solicitors. However, even the best London immigration solicitors realise that for EU citizens the announcement by the new home secretary, Priti Patel, is worrying.

 
Priti Patel has said that freedom of movement for EU nationals will end on 31 October, should the UK leave the EU without a deal. That is just over 10 weeks away.
 
Whilst Top London immigration solicitors would never suggest that it is the time to panic, the best advice for EU citizens and their UK employers is to act now. 
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
If you are an EU citizen who has not applied for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme or for a Permanent Residence card or you are a UK employer worried about meeting your recruitment needs after the 31 October then OTS Solicitors can help.
 
For speedy advice on your Brexit options from specialist London based Immigration solicitors call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 to speak to an experienced Immigration solicitor.
 

Brexit and the end of free movement

 
The 31 October date has gained increased significance to Top London immigration solicitors after Priti Patel said that if the UK exits the EU without a deal then a “no deal Brexit” means freedom of movement ends on the 31 October. That outcome seems increasingly likely.
 
For the one million EU citizens who have already applied for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme the news may seem worrying but not of critical concern. However, spare a thought for the estimated additional two million EU citizens who have not yet applied for Settled Status or a Permanent Residence card (and their UK employers). The question being asked by both EU citizens and their employers is “what is the best advice?”.
 
London immigration solicitors advise that until the UK leaves the EU all EU nationals continue to enjoy the right of free movement and will currently continue to do so until the 31 October.
 

EU citizens’ rights to stay in the UK after Brexit 

 
If free movement ends on the 31 October, then where does that leave EU citizens after Brexit? Most media reports say that EU nationals are confused and increasingly anxious.
 
The government has said that if an EU citizen was resident in the UK before Brexit then they will be able to stay in the UK. However, that then raises the question how an EU citizen proves residence. The best and easiest ways are to:
 
• Apply for a Permanent Residence card; or
• Apply for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme; or
• Apply for pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme if the residence criteria for Settled Status are not met. 
Any of these three routes provide an EU citizen with documentary evidence of their right to live and work in the UK after Brexit, notwithstanding the end of freedom of movement.
 
Campaigners fear that if EU citizens do not apply for a Permanent Residence card or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme then they may end up unable to easily prove their legal status. In turn those EU citizens, who settled in the UK at a time of freedom of movement, could face many of the same hostile environment Immigration problems experienced by the Windrush generation; entitled to stay in the UK or re-enter the UK but unable to prove it. 
 
After all, in the absence of an EU national carrying Settled Status paperwork or a Permanent Residence card, how else is an Immigration official at the airport on the 1 November 2019 going to be able to recognise whether an EU citizen has the right to enter the UK to live and work, free of Immigration control. 
 
Top London immigration solicitors recognise that many UK business owners are heavily reliant on a migrant workforce. Anything that makes existing EU workers feel less welcome in the UK or anxious about their ability to continue to live and work in the UK is bad news for the UK economy. The best advice that employers can give to their EU migrant workforce is to take legal advice on their best options to give both the EU citizen and employer peace of mind.
 

Applying for a Permanent Residence card 

 
Although campaigners have called on the government to give EU citizens’ automatic Settled Status or a Permanent Residence card that is unlikely to happen. The reality is that an EU nationals’ best option is to be proactive.
 
EU nationals automatically acquire a permanent right of residence in the UK after five years continuous residence as a “qualified person”.
 
Immigration rules say that an EU citizen has to be able to prove “continuity of residence” and to be a “qualified person” to be eligible to apply for a Permanent Residence card. The rules on residence and absences from the UK are complicated and therefore the best option is to take legal advice on whether an EU citizen meets the continuity of residence criteria for a Permanent Residence card.
 

The benefits of obtaining a Permanent Residence card 

 
With the publicity about the need for EU citizens to apply for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, most EU nationals do not realise that applying for a Permanent Residence card is still an option for them.
 
For some EU citizens, a Permanent Residence card is more advantageous than Settled Status, particularly if the EU national wants to apply for British Citizenship. If an EU citizen has lived in the UK, in accordance with the EEA regulations for a period of over five years, and wants to apply for British Citizenship , then the route to naturalisation as a British citizen is potentially twelve months quicker if they apply for a Permanent Residence card, rather than Settled Status. That is because an EU national with Settled Status has to wait twelve months before they can apply to become naturalised as a British citizen.
 

The Settled Status scheme and applying for Settled Status 

 
Two million EU citizens eligible to apply for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status have not done so. London immigration solicitors anticipate that with daily headlines about Brexit and announcement of the end of free movement on the 31 October there will be a rush for Immigration legal advice and applications for Settled Status. 
 
However, changes in policy may make some EU citizen or employers “freeze” because of the ongoing uncertainty and questions over whether the government will survive until the 31 October or if, for example, there will be a second referendum or change of direction over Brexit.      
 
Top London immigration solicitors advise both EU nationals and their UK employers that now is a clarion call to take action and not delay. Whilst employers may think that regularising Immigration positions after Brexit is the responsibility of the individual employee, the reality is that a UK business will be hit hard if their employees are subject to Immigration controls and lose their automatic entitlement to live and work in the UK because they cannot prove their status.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help?

 

When it comes to deciding whether to apply for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme or applying for Permanent Residence, or how to get your business and employeesBrexit ready” many EU citizens and UK business owners do not know where to start. 
 
OTS Solicitors can help you look at Brexit options, and if appropriate, help with applications for Settled Status or Permanent Residence or get businesses geared up for Brexit.
 
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration law matters. The leading law directory, The Legal 500, has recognised their expertise. OTS Solicitors also have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law. 
 
For information and advice on applying for Settled Status or Permanent Residence or any other aspect of personal or business immigration law call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.
 

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