23 June 2016
Following a referendum on 23 June 2016, 51.9% of British voters voted in favour of leaving the European Union.
The mechanism for leaving the EU, set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (the Lisbon Treaty), requires the UK to formally give notice of its intention to leave, triggering a two year period after which its membership of the EU will cease.
The UK government has pledged to engage Article 50 by March 2017. The UK remains a member of the EU throughout this process, however, and the rights of EEA nationals will remain guaranteed until the UK formally leaves the EU.
It is expected that transitional arrangements will be made regarding the status of EEA citizens for when the UK does leave the EU. The nature and scope of such arrangements remain unknown to date.
If you are an EU citizen in principle you and your family should be able to apply for the EU settlement scheme to continue living in the UK after 30th June 2021. If the application is successful you will either get settled or pre-settled status. Currently the UK has reached an agreement with Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and a separate agreement with Switzerland. If you are a national of these countries you will be able to apply for the EU settlement scheme from 30th March 2019.
When you choose to apply may depend on your circumstances. If you apply before you have completed the five years continuous residence in the UK you will usually get a pre-settled status rather than a settled status. If you have five years continuous residence by 30th June 2021, you will get settled status. If you have not had five years continuous residence in the UK by 30th June 2021, you will not be eligible for settled status before the deadline for the EU settlement scheme. However, if you meet all the eligibility criteria, you will get pre-settled status if you apply any time before 30th June 2021. You can then change your pre-settled status to settled status as soon as you have five years continuous residence in the UK. For family members of an EU citizen, they should make an application at the same time as the family member. Family members can apply to join family members here in the UK after 31st December 2020 if the family member has either settled or pre-settled status and the relationship began before 31st December 2020 and you remain a close family member.
The UK decision to leave the EU will have profound implications for all of us.
If you would like to discuss the implications for yourself, your family, your clients, your organisation or if you require help with legal issues, call us. We have an expert team that can assist you.