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EU Parents Need To Document Children So They Can Stay After Brexit

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EU nationals residing in Britain have been warned they need to ensure their children have their status documented to avoid them experiencing serious problems in later life proving they have a right to live in the UK.

The warning comes from two Eurochildren Research Briefs on the impact of the UK-EU agreement on residence and citizenship rights for EU families written by Immigration law experts and published by the University of Birmingham.

The research briefs considered what would occur in the following two scenarios after Brexit:

  • A ‘No deal’ scenario, with the UK leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement and no new laws being passed.
  • A ‘Settled status’ scenario, based on the EU-UK withdrawal agreement.

The first situation (which is thankfully looking increasingly unlikely) would make all EU citizens living in the UK unlawful residents and expose them to the full brunt of the country’s “hostile environment”. This would mean they could not work, rent a property, or open a bank account.

In the latter scenario, many EU families are likely to “fall through the cracks of the legal system”. The researchers found that while ‘settled status’ would improve the situation for children born after Brexit and reduce the administrative barriers to naturalisation for adult EU citizens, this status would not have a retrospective effect, leaving many in legal limbo.

Children born to EU citizens in the UK are not automatically entitled to British Citizenship if they were born after 2000, when Immigration rules changed. But they could remain in the country without issue as EU citizens under EU law.

Post-Brexit they will need to demonstrate that they have the right to be in the country once they turn 18, and this will turn on the rights of their parents. However, past experience shows it can be very difficult for adult children of international parents to locate the necessary paperwork required to prove their right to be in the country. Over the years, paperwork goes missing, parents pass away or lose mental capacity, and it becomes almost impossible for the affected ‘children’ to prove they have a legal right to be in the country.

Some children will be especially vulnerable to being unable to prove their residency status. Those taken into care, who have learning disabilities, or have parents who struggle to qualify for permanent residency status were identified in the research papers as particularly exposed.

A lesson from the 1950s

Many of the best Immigration lawyers in London are concerned that children of EU nationals who reside in the UK could suffer the same fate as those who immigrated with their parents from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s.

Many people born in Commonwealth countries who emigrated to the UK with their parents as children. However, their parents did not realise they were required to formally naturalise their children in Britain. The unresolved residency status of the children (who are now all reaching retirement age) could mean they face problems accessing pensions, housing, and healthcare.

The harsh treatment which some children of EU nationals may face was recently illustrated by the case of Anthony Bryan, a 60-year-old who came to Britain with his parents aged eight. He spent weeks in an Immigration detention centre and last November was booked on a flight to Jamaica, a country he has not visited for over 50 years. The decorator lost his job in 2015 because he was unable to prove he was not an “illegal worker” and struggled to convince the Home Office of his right to be in the UK until the Guardian highlighted his case last year. He was particularly vulnerable as he was unable to read and write; therefore, could not understand many of the documents the Home Office was asking him to sign.

Mr Bryan was eventually granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Naturalising children of EU citizens born in the UK

If you and your partner are EU nationals and have children who were born in Britain, it is crucial you take steps to formally register them. The team at OTS Solicitors can assist with this to ensure they do not face harsh consequences in the future.

Our Immigration solicitors will work with you to ensure that, if you are eligible for an EU permanent residence Card and/or British Citizenship, you have the advice and support you need to make a strong application. The British government has said those who have attained EU permanent residence Cards can transfer to Settled Status at no extra cost once the procedure for doing so is formalised.

If you have children born in the UK, we will apply for naturalisation so their residency rights are protected, regardless of what happens with Brexit.

As parents, we all want to pave a smooth path for our children’s future. By assuring they their right to remain in the UK is legalised, you can be confident they will not face hardship in the future.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London and is a Legal 500 leading firm. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.

For advice on Brexit and EEA Permanent Resident Cards, please contact us on 0203 959 9123 to speak to one of our Immigration consultants.

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