Expat Essentials

Elena Kalmykova: Here’s the practical, relevant info I dug up researching what Brexit means for EU citizens in the UK

With Brexit approaching, many of the 3 million European Union nationals residing in the United Kingdom, as well as those wishing to move to Britain after Brexit, are wondering about their fates and futures.

There are numerous articles on the Internet concerning Britain breaking ties with the EU as well as speculations on what opportunities and challenges this might bring. However, there is little practical information on what steps EU passport holders should undertake in order to extend their stay in Britain.

This post is a non-partisan attempt to find answers to some relevant questions an EU expat living in the UK – or planning to move there – might ask him/herself regarding the impact that Brexit will have on his/her life.

Climate of uncertainly

The climate of uncertainty around Brexit is causing a wave of concern among the European population in the UK. However, EU citizens currently residing in the UK don’t need to worry as, according to the British government, they will have the same rights as British citizens after the separation takes place.

On the other hand, for Europeans only planning to settle in Britain, the question is how much time they have to enter the UK according to existing migratory conditions, i.e. before Brexit takes place.

If you are a citizen of an EU member state and you have been living in the UK for more or less than 5 years, you must apply for a resident’s settled or pre-settled status accordingly on the EU Settlement Scheme website.

This video from the British government summarizes the paperwork around the application for a new residency status for a European in the UK:

A lot of info out there

The EU Settlement Scheme website, rather effective and simple to use, launched on March 30.

The deadline to apply for a new residency status is June 30, 2021. For people who don’t have access to a computer or smartphone, the British government has announced many offices would be open across the country to apply in person. However, at present only 51 offices are in place.

Despite the procedure of applying for new residency status being fairly clear and easy to follow, some European nationals are still feeling concerns about their request for staying in the UK being rejected.

According to migration experts from Oxford University, the types of people who risk being excluded after Brexit are the most vulnerable groups of the population.

For example, the at-risk include those who can’t prove their legal status of residency or their right to work in the UK , or who don’t speak English well enough to apply. Today, representatives of those groups account for less than 7 percent of the current EU population in Britain.

Another important fact to consider is the settled status is based on British immigration law and thus may lead to European citizens to losing some of their European/national social rights (pensions, healthcare benefits etc.) Besides, the right to bring close family members after Brexit will most likely be reduced.

As I mentioned earlier, entry and residence conditions in the UK for Europeans post-Brexit are not yet defined. While leaving the EU does not mean the end of migration between the EU and the UK, it is quite probable the new migration policy will be designed with British interest as a priority.

Most of the rights for Europeans wishing to move to the UK after Brexit will depend on the new agreements the UK will sign with the EU as well as with each European country, including those outside the EU.

Shortly after the Brexit referendum in 2016, some observers predicted the UK will sign more favourable agreements with countries it has strong economic ties with (e.g. Germany and France) and will apply stricter rules to countries perceived mainly as sources of workforce, Eastern European countries in particular.

About the author:

Elena Kalmykova is a pastry chef from Moscow, Russia currently working at a 5-star hotel in Paris.

With a course at Ferrandi and an internship at Cafe Pouchkine behind her, she is looking forward to exploring more of Paris gastronomy scene and sharing her experiences with Dispatches.

Follow her around Paris on Instagram: @elena__kalmykova

See all of her posts here including her insights into the French foodie scene.

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