- Don’t panic!
There are no immediate changes for EU nationals who are already living in the UK. The free movement, and right to reside rules have not changed, and nothing has changed for Welfare benefits like Child, benefit, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, and Jobseekers Allowance.
- No Changes until 2018!
The UK can only ‘Brexit’ the EU after giving official notification (Article 50). This will trigger negotiations to facilitate the UK leaving the EU, and these negotiations are expected to last at least 2 years. The Prime Minister has said that the Article 50 notification will not be sent until later this year. Therefore, nothing is expected to change for EU nationals until late 2018 at the earliest.
- Free Movement rules after Brexit
Nobody knows yet what the UK’s new relationship with EU will be after the Brexit. It is possible that the UK will stay in the EEA like Norway and Iceland. At the moment, countries in the EEA must still allow Free Movement of EU nationals into their country. It is therefore possible that, even after Brexit, Free movement rules will still be in place. However, it is also possible that the UK government will negotiate to end free movement of EU nationals to the UK after Brexit.
- If Free Movement ends after Brexit
If the EU agrees to allow the UK to end free movement, the government will have to decide on the status of all EU nationals living in the UK at that time. Most experts agree that the UK will allow EU nationals to stay.
- Permanent Residence Status
EU Nationals become ‘permanent residents’ of the UK if they have lived in the UK for at least 5 years and have been continuously employed, self-employed or claiming Jobseekers allowance for 5 years. Short gaps between these activities (for example between different jobs) will not break the continuity.
- Faster Routes to Permanent Residence
Some people may be able to gain permanent residence status before 5 years, for example if they have lived in the UK for 3 years and have retired after working at least 12 months, or if they have become permanently unable to work because of their health.
- Applying to become a British Citizen
EU Nationals can apply to become a citizen of the UK (and can get a British passport) only after they have had permanent residence status for 12 months or more. To apply to become a UK citizen, you must pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test; must be ‘of good character; and must pass an approved English course to prove your English is of a sufficient standard
- EU National Children born in the UK
EU national children who are born in the UK can be British Citizens automatically if the parents have Permanent Residence status before the child is born.
To apply for Permanent Residence status, you need to use form EEA(PR) available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/505032/EEA_PR__03-16.pdf