Brexit: what would happen to EU citizens living in UK?

(654 Posts)
marghini Wed 13-Jan-16 19:07:24

I am a EU citizen and I have been living, working and paying taxes in the UK for a while.

I am really concerned about what would happen to the EU citizens who built a life for themselves and settled here in the UK in case of a Brexit.

Do you think all EU citizens already living in the UK would be pushed out? Or perhaps the government would just stop allowing further EU immigration?

claig Wed 13-Jan-16 21:13:30

I don't think anyone will be pushed out and the economy will still need further new immigration as well. Business and the country needs the contribution of EU citizens in the workforce so I doubt that there would be big changes for people already here.

This is from the Economist in May of 2015

"If Britain renegotiates—or ends—its relationship with the EU, the chances of a mass exodus are slim, reckons Madeleine Sumption of the Migration Observatory. Migrants who have been in Britain for years may be eligible for permanent residency. And when immigration policies change, the old rules may still apply to prior arrivals. Ms Sumption points to earlier changes in the regulations governing highly skilled migrants from outside the EU, which applied only to those who arrived after the reforms were introduced.

That would be some comfort to the businesses that rely on foreigners. Some industries, especially those that struggle to replace human labour with technology, would be left foundering without a ready supply of migrant labour. Britain does not train enough skilled construction workers to meet demand, according to UCATT, the industry’s trade union. Food businesses would be hard hit, too."

www.economist.com/news/britain/21652356-even-if-britain-votes-leave-eu-its-european-migrants-may-stick-around-what-will-become

DorothyL Wed 13-Jan-16 21:20:03

I am planning to apply for UK citizenship to make it easier

captainproton Wed 13-Jan-16 21:23:05

My friend is ethnically Russian but has a Lithuanian passport, because when the USSR collapsed all Russians living in Lithuania were entitled to apply become Lithuanian citizens.

I'm not sure if something similar would apply in a Brexit situation but it doesn't seem unreasonable.

I think there is a lot of scaremongering over a possible brexit that is designed to cause fear.

claig Wed 13-Jan-16 21:25:09

Here are some more informative articles on legal type aspects. I don't know enough about it but I suspect that the government would have to make acceptable deals with all EU countries in order to protect EU citizens' rights here and UK citisens' rights in EU countries.

www.carterlaw.co.uk/if-britain-leaves-the-eu-what-will-happen-to-eu-citizens-living-here/

www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/17/dual-nationality-passports-eu-migrants-fear-brexit-european-union-referendum

marghini Wed 13-Jan-16 21:28:58

Many thanks for the inputs provided so far!

dorothy I would apply for citizenship but I don't qualify yet and I won't for a while. DP is British but I do not wish to get married just to get a passport!!

claig many thanks for your links. They really helped me get a better picture of the possible scenarios.

MyHouseToday Wed 13-Jan-16 21:40:59

After thinking for a long time with the view that common sense would prevail for an IN vote, I'm not so sure now, even the tone on MN on the subject has changed.
And while they can't just push us out overnight ( my workplace would be seriously depleted), I got cold feet after last summer, the election, people's attitudes to migration/immigration, so I've applied for naturalisation.
I've been here 'exercising my treaty rights' for nearly 28 years, my life, job, husband and kids are here. So I scraped together my savings and applied ( there goes our summer holiday)
I'm a hidden migrant of sorts, my accent does not give me away and I've been here long enough to be totally assimilated. Only have one friend of my original nationality, and met them after having lived here for 20 years.
While I totally agree that long term migrants will retain most of their rights, it's the little things that may change. Passport control, access to healthcare, legal status, visa requirements, spouse needing to provide financial proof etc. I have a British driving licence (transferred from other EU one), would they make me change it back?

On the plus side, after moaning about it for years, I would finally get to vote in a general election (and potentially, the referendum...)

MyHouseToday Wed 13-Jan-16 21:45:21

And I just proved how bad my English is by forgetting to read back over my first sentence:
After thinking for a long time that common sense would prevail

lljkk Wed 13-Jan-16 21:51:56

What will happen to Brit citizens living in EU?

MyHouseToday Wed 13-Jan-16 21:56:43

lljkk my question exactly. They are in the same boat. Lots of unknowns so some kind of continuation of current reciprocal arrangements is fair to expect. Except I felt that I could no longer rely on that assumption

If Britain left the EU, this is a matter that would be covered only by legislation passed by the UK parliament, either existing or to be enacted.

My view is that Parliament would legislate to ensure that EU citizens could remain in the UK for a period of time, but would be unable to rely on their EU citizenship for residency after that time: they would have to obtain residency on the same basis as people without EU citizenship (e.g. Australians and New Zealanders), ie, on the basis of employment, marriage or other relationship, and so on.

People who had taken out UK citizenship would be entitled to remain under existing laws. While Parliament would be entitled to pass legislation stripping them of UK citizenship, I think it very, very, very unlikely that this would be done.

LurkingHusband Thu 14-Jan-16 10:35:16

What about non-British people who came to the UK in the 1960s (like my Dad) married to an UK citizen (my Mum) before the UK joined the EU ? He never needed to apply for citizenship, so on the face of it will look like someone waiting to be kicked out sad. The flipside is I inherited his citizenship, so am a UK/EU citizen. It'll be interesting to see if that counts for much in a Brexit ?

AveEldon Thu 14-Jan-16 10:41:09

It depends, if Britain leaves the EU but remains in the single market like Norway then the free movement of people will remain

LurkingHusband Thu 14-Jan-16 11:07:39

It depends, if Britain leaves the EU but remains in the single market like Norway then the free movement of people will remain

The free movement of people is at the heart of all this. It's unlikely to survive in the event of a Brexit.

I'd like to think that having been stung by voting Tory only to find themselves lacking their front teeth, the voters needed to make a Brexit happen will be a little more cautious in future. However, given the political awareness of the average voter is approaching zero from below, I remain pessimistic.

BreakingDad77 Thu 14-Jan-16 14:03:47

With the tory push to cut all benefits, I'm assuming the plan to put you all on regular working visas the same for any professional coming to the UK from outside EU and put you on benefits embargo for ten yrs?

Though guess you will be able to apply for citizenship?

Sandwichgirl Thu 14-Jan-16 15:23:07

So if freedom of movement goes, how do we deal with the hundreds of thousands of returning UK citizens currently living elsewhere in the EU many of whom will be pensioners with medical needs ?

EssentialHummus Thu 14-Jan-16 15:32:08

I am in the same boat OP - Polish national through an ancestral visa, been here for 7ish years, but given that I was on a non-EU passport when I arrived, not yet eligible for citizenship.

The looming referendum is spurring me to apply for citizenship as soon as I can. Practically, I don't know how the UK will disentangle itself from its millions of EU workers, some of whom seem to be in roles that would otherwise go unfilled.

BreakingDad77 Thu 14-Jan-16 16:47:55

So if freedom of movement goes, how do we deal with the hundreds of thousands of returning UK citizens currently living elsewhere in the EU many of whom will be pensioners with medical needs ?

Indeed and being generally older have more demanding needs.

Also maybe some overnight property crashes in the euro zone maybe unless they are wealthy enough to be able to afford private health insurance?

LurkingHusband Thu 14-Jan-16 17:07:33

So if freedom of movement goes, how do we deal with the hundreds of thousands of returning UK citizens currently living elsewhere in the EU many of whom will be pensioners with medical needs ?

You tell me, I have no idea. You can bet your life that it will happen in a Brexit because ex-pat Britons stand out a mile (due to their insistence on never learning the language). It's hard to see Spain (and the Spanish) feeling well disposed to immigrant Britons, as they see their compatriots kicked out in a frightening nod to Amins 1972 exile of the Asians.

It seems to me the people calling for a Brexit think we are living in 1976, and they can just vote to undo 40+ years of progress. That's the ones who actually have any nous at all. As I said upthread, most people clamouring to leave the EU haven't the faintest idea what they are talking about to start with. Which is easily demonstrated in any debate lasting more than 5 minutes.

Funny, all my life, I have never really given a thought to being bi-national. But as this debate drags on, I am feeling slightly more nationalistic, and angry in equal measures. My Dad came here in the 60s, learned the language, set up a business, earned plenty of money for the taxman, and was able to have 3 kids who were the first on both sides of the family to go to University. Where we did well, and earned more money for the taxman. I'm not given to rashness, but I wonder if all the people like myself (and there are a lot more than you'd think) decided to fuck off back "home" (with our tax dollars) what would happen ?

I'm not a massive "EU" fan, but believe strongly in Europe. It would be a shame to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

hefzi Thu 14-Jan-16 17:16:34

Sandwich don't forget that a significant majority of those return to the UK anyway for treatment on the NHS - even though, strictly speaking, they are often not entitled to use it any more. So there is already a cost to "the nation" of this ageing population.

This is uncharted territory so far, and a lot of international lawyers are writing speculative articles about what might happen at the moment - what won't happen, though, is wholesale expulsion of all EU nationals hmm

It's academic anyway - Britain tends to be conservative (small c) and prefers to preserve the status quo in general: so sadly, Brexit is unlikely to be a reality.

hefzi Thu 14-Jan-16 17:19:47

Lurking presumably your father has something like indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence if he's been married to your mother all that time but didn't apply for citizenship - so EU or not, he's not just going to be chucked out hmm But if you wish to leave - you're welcome! The UK won't collapse whether or not it leaves the EU, and whether or not the non-British or dual-nationals leave, you know...

geekaMaxima Thu 14-Jan-16 20:14:24

A Brexit (hate that word) would seriously damage the international competitiveness of the UK university system. Bye-bye knowledge-based economy and all the long-term economic growth that comes from a vibrant research community.

Universities are propped up by academics from around the EU coming to the UK to work. Particularly in the sciences, and particularly in top research-intensive institutions, universities simply could not recruit enough British staff to fill vacancies without taking a serious drop in quality. (Not that there aren't some excellent British academics, but there are nowhere near enough of them to meet demand).

Sure, EU citizens could apply for visas for a job in the UK, but what about their partners? You would be a lot less inclined to uproot your family internationally if your partner's ability to work was restricted because (for example) you weren't married or your job was a fixed-term contract.

And what if you were made redundant or your research project ended? Currently, an EU citizen and family can stay in the UK until hey find another post, which means the UK keeps an excellent scientist. But on a visa, they would have to leave the country and would probably not re-enter because of finding a job in another country (as currently happens a lot with US and Australian academics)... so the UK loses another excellent scientist.

There are so many reasons leaving the EU would be a terrible idea...

geeka

I believe the UK already grants accompanying spouses residency if the spouse's partner can show proof of earnings above a certain level.

Anyway. The world does not stop at the EU's borders. There's a planet of academics out there. If US and Australian academics don't get the same special treatment, perhaps it's not really a problem. And if what you say is true, what about brain drain in the other direction?

It seems to me the people calling for a Brexit think we are living in 1976, and they can just vote to undo 40+ years of progress. That's the ones who actually have any nous at all. As I said upthread, most people clamouring to leave the EU haven't the faintest idea what they are talking about to start with. Which is easily demonstrated in any debate lasting more than 5 minutes.

I was 1 in 1976, so it's no good assuming I want to return to a time I don't even remember. Furthermore, those who do remember 1976 won't want to return to it.

I think everyone realises that undoing 40 years of change - some good, some bad - can't be undone and I expect a form of free movement will remain. The point is that whatever arrangements the UK decides to make with other European countries - EU or otherwise - will be legislated for by Parliament and not imposed by an unaccountable Brussels elite who are even more detached from common people than the public schools cabal at Westminster.

grimbletart Mon 18-Jan-16 02:46:25

I'm ambivalent at the moment so still weighing pros and cons (oh for information from an unbiased source rather than "experts"who have made up their minds one way or the other and work back from that viewpoint). But, there would be nothing, in the case of Brexit to stop the UK government calling an amnesty (for want of a better word) for everyone who is currently here and then applying whatever new rules they decide for the future.

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