EU Nationals: 5 Steps to Secure Your Place in the UK

Learn how to firmly secure your place in the U.K. as an EU national with these steps.

Britain’s shocking decision to leave the European Union last June has left the global community with many questions. How will this affect the economy and trade? Will other countries soon follow suit?

Some of the people most affected by the Brexit are EU nationals living in the UK. Many of these individuals have been living and working in the UK for years. Now, they are unsure whether they will be able to remain in the country that they’ve called home.

While the situation for EU nationals has certainly become more complicated, there are still options for them. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 5 steps you can take in the aftermath of Brexit to secure your position in the UK.

Understand the Impacts of Brexit on EU Nationals

The first step to securing your place in the UK is understanding exactly what the policy means for you. Jumping to conclusions and making assumptions will only increase confusion.

Freedom of Movement

All European Union countries allow freedom of movement, meaning that EU citizens are free to travel to, live in, and work in any other EU member country. According to recent studies, this is the most popular European Union policy.

With the Brexit vote, Britain is no longer a member country of the European Union. This means that EU nationals will not enjoy the same freedom of movement in the UK as they do in other parts of Europe.

A Policy Change Is Scheduled for 2019

One feature of Brexit that many people may not understand is that not all (or even most) of the effects will take place immediately. Rather, the changes will be rolled out gradually over the next several years.

Currently, freedom of movement between the European Union and the UK is scheduled to end in March 2019. After that point, all EU nationals working in the UK will have to register. This registration process would continue at least until a permanent solution is reached.

That said, there have been conflicting reports around this 2019 date. Other statements have indicated that freedom of movement will continue after the official “Brexit Day” in March 2019, and will be phased out gradually. Some officials have suggested that freedom of movement could continue for as long as two years after the official Brexit.

Talk to Your Employer

EU nationals are not the only ones anxious to know what effects the Brexit will have on freedom of movement. Many UK employers rely on European workers. They are seeking assurance from the UK government that the policy will not negatively impact your business.

If you perform a skilled job in the UK, you may be able to take some preemptive steps to prepare for policy changes. Employer-sponsored work visas are one way for foreign nationals to work legally in the UK. If your employer can show that your job is in a high-need field, you may be able to apply for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa.

Apply for Permanent Residency

With all of the confusion and conflicting public statements, it’s hard to know for sure what the official freedom of movement policy will be. So it’s no surprise that many EU nationals are looking for a more reliable way to secure their place in the UK.

For Europeans working in the United Kingdom, applying for permanent residency can be a great option. Permanent residents are free from immigration restrictions. To qualify for a permanent resident application, you must have been living as a European national in the UK for five years or more.

Consider Indefinite Leave to Remain

Many people assume that permanent residency (PR) and indefinite leave to remain (ILR) are the same thing, but they are not. They are two different programs with different requirements. It’s important to know which option is right for you.

Indefinite leave to remain is a type of permanent residency that has no time limit. This is why it is called “indefinite.” Those who possess this status have permission to stay for an indefinite period of time.

European nationals with indefinite leave to remain have no restrictions on employment and have access to benefits.

Who Qualifies for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Most paths to indefinite leave to remain require at least five years of residence in the UK. These five years can be completed under a work visa, a spouse/unmarried partner visa, or an ancestry visa.

Disqualifying Factors

Keep in mind that there are some factors that could disqualify a person from qualifying for indefinite leave to remain. For example, you must fall under a certain threshold of days spent outside of the UK during your 5 years living there. Also, criminal convictions or failure to pay taxes could disqualify an applicant.

Be sure to talk to an immigration expert before applying for indefinite leave to remain. Applying before you are eligible could undermine your application.

Investigate Pathways to Citizenship

If you are committed to living in the United Kingdom, you might want to consider pathways to citizenship. This is the most permanent way to secure your position in the UK.

Before you can apply for UK citizenship, you must be a permanent residence for at least one year. Most paths to citizenship require at least five years of residence under a visa, and 12 months as a permanent resident. If you are married to a British citizen, however, you may be able to apply for citizenship after only three years.

In addition to residency requirements, there are a few other steps to applying for UK citizenship. For instance, all applicants must take a “Life in the UK” test and must meet the Good Character Requirement.

Securing Your Place in the UK

While the Brexit has brought uncertainty, there are ways for EU nationals to secure their place in the UK. By securing a work visa and applying for permanent residency, you can even start taking steps towards citizenship.

If you have more questions regarding the position of EU nationals in the UK, contact us. Our expert immigration lawyers will work with you to help with your case.

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