What to do now that Article 50 has been triggered.
On 29 March 2017 the UK formally confirmed its intention to leave the European Union (EU). The details of the UK’s withdrawal will be subject to negotiation although we now have a clearer timeline on the two-year Brexit negotiation period. There remains uncertainty regarding practical considerations, such as how the withdrawal may affect the UK’s immigration system and the status of current EU nationals in the UK exercising their free rights of movement. We know there will be an impact on workers and their families, we just don’t know yet exactly what that might be. This will become clearer over the coming months.
Although the Government plans to negotiate early, on a reciprocal agreement for EU nationals in Britain and UK nationals in other EU member states, many EU nationals are still likely to feel anxious due to this uncertainty.
There are currently approximately 3.5 million EU nationals living and/or working in the UK. Many of them will have EU partners and children, or non-EU partners and children. While their status has not and will not change in the short term, there will almost certainly be changes in the long term, especially after the UK has left the EU.
The current UK Government has previously announced that EU nationals and their family members who have spent five or more years in the UK would be entitled to stay. This is not, however, guaranteed unless and until the UK receives reciprocal agreement on UK nationals in the EU. We anticipate that the UK Government will require EU nationals and their dependants to make themselves known to the authorities at some point to confirm their permanent residence status, or for those who have not met the 5-year threshold, to stipulate certain criteria they have to meet in order to be able to remain in the UK beyond Brexit.
In view of the above, employers may wish to consider recommending and encouraging employees to apply for permanent residence/registration to declare their immigration status in order to provide some sort of identification to prove their right to live and work in the UK once the UK leaves the EU.
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