Brexit: Right to Live and Work in Europe and the UK

Well Brexit is upon us.  What has been posed as a possibility is now a reality, and the implications are only just beginning to be absorbed. David Cameron has resigned and indicated that he will leave it up to his successor to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty to start the 2 year process of the UK leaving the EU.  One of the major implications is that of the right of UK citizens to live and work in the UK and of EU citizens to do the opposite.  We have therefore set out below some questions that we suggest people in this situation should consider.  We don’t yet have all the answers but have rather raised some issues that we recommend are considered in some depth and the sooner the better.
  • If you are a UK citizen currently living and working elsewhere in Europe, it makes sense to look at whether you could apply for a passport there.  You have a right to live and work there at present as the UK is still part of the EU.  It is also likely that that position would be protected under the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties of 1969 which protects rights acquired under treaties which are then terminated.  However, if you can apply now it may make sense to get that passport now;
  • If you are married to an EU citizen and resident in that country you probably qualify for that EU passport.  Why not apply now especially if you have been there for a while;
  • If you have purchased property in any of the countries that have schemes granting residence on the basis of property purchase, why not apply under that scheme now for permanent residence to secure your position.  Whilst it may not prove necessary once the UK negotiates its exit, why not secure the right to live there under your own terms.  Countries that have such schemes include Portugal, Spain and Malta;
  • Some such schemes also include the right to a passport and should also be investigated;
  • If you are an EU citizen living in the UK perhaps you could apply now for a UK passport.  We suggest you do so;
  • If you are married to a UK citizen and have been in the UK for more than 3 years you probably qualify already for a UK passport and should pursue that option now;
  • If you are an EU citizen living in the UK and have started a business there, why not apply for residence in the UK under the entrepreneur’s visa.  This gives you the right to indefinite leave to remain after 5 and sometimes less years and leads to a UK passport.  Similarly perhaps you could qualify already for the investment visa if you have already invested sufficient funds or could do so with some thought.
  • If you had been considering a move in either direction in the future, it would make sense to explore doing so now whilst that right is automatic, and then looking to how to make the right permanent.
The point is what was guaranteed before might now be in the future.  Where you have a chance to plot your own course, we recommend that you rather do so now on your terms.  We would be happy to explore such options with you and invite you to contact us to assist.
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