EU Nationals and Family Members
Recently the UK voted to leave the European Union. It is important to note that there are no immediate legal consequences from the referendum result. Any legal changes will only take effect through an act of parliament, passing new laws and repealing European ones.
Immigration has been at the forefront of the referendum debate. We do not yet know what the position will be for the 3 million EU nationals and their family members who live in the UK, this is likely to become clearer in the weeks and months ahead. However, it is unlikely that any new laws would be applied retrospectively to EU nationals and their family members who are already resident in the UK, and similarly British citizens already resident elsewhere in the EU.
The big question will be over what restrictions are put in place post-withdrawal which as yet is unclear.
However EU nationals and their family members can take steps to protect their position in the event of loss of free movement rights.
For those EU nationals and family already residing in the UK, the government is likely to introduce some provision that would allow them to retain their residence. This may possibly include a requirement to apply for a Home Office registration document as evidence of their status.
Those who have been in the UK exercising Treaty rights for more than 5 years will have acquired permanent residence and should consider applying for a permanent residence card from the Home Office to evidence this. This would then allow an application for Naturalisation as a British citizen either immediately or within 12 months, depending upon their entire length of residence.
Registration certificates or residence cards
EEA nationals who have been in the UK for less than 5 years can apply for registration certificates for themselves and residence cards for non-EEA family members as evidence of their lawful residence in the UK and exercise of Treaty rights.
How to prove exercise of Treaty rights
An EU national is exercising Treaty rights in the UK if they are working, self-employed or self-sufficient. Original evidence to support the application must be submitted and despite it being arguably unlawful to do so, the Home Office imposes strict evidential requirements which should be satisfied in order to ensure success.
Self-sufficiency is one area worthy of particular note. This is defined in EU law as being able to support oneself without reliance on public funds, and holding private medical insurance coverage for all treatment in the UK. Evidence of this would need to be supplied and again it is highly prescriptive.
Spouses, partners and children under the age of 21, or older dependent children and dependant parents can qualify whether they are EU nationals or non-EU nationals. In some circumstances more distant relatives can also be considered as 'family members'.