What is Brexit?

Brexit (British Exit) means the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. The citizens of Great Britain voted in favour of the latter in the referendum on 23 June 2016. Britain has postponed it several times, so it is still part of the EU. Negotiations on the ‘ratification’ of Brexit are only increasing. Brexit was due to take note on 29 March 2019. The government then pushed it back to April 12, and now to October 31, 2019. If negotiations are successful between European countries, Brexit is expected to take effect on 31 October 2019. However, the government has set a transition period between before and after Brexit. As a result, the consequences of the transition will only be noticed on 31 December 2020. And if the negotiations do not succeed, we can expect a ‘no deal’. This means that the United Kingdom will leave the EU without reaching an agreement with other European countries.

Brexit will have a variety of consequences, from economics to politics, etc. It will also have some from an immigration perspective. The question then arises: what consequences could it have for European expatriates in Britain?

What are the consequences?

The impact on European expatriates will not be the same for everyone. The difference will be between expatriates already living in the United Kingdom, and those planning to emigrate.

Expats already settled in the United Kingdom for more than 5 years

There are currently 3 million European expatriates in the United Kingdom, 300,000 of whom are French.

The government has not yet clearly determined the conditions of immigration policy in the face of Brexit. Negotiations on the terms of Brexit are still ongoing. However, the government has already decided on some aspects of immigration conditions, namely:

European expats already settled in the United Kingdom for more than five years as of 31 December 2020 (or on 31 October in the case of No Deal) will not lose the rights they had before Brexit. They will, therefore, have to apply for settled status. The request will be via the website GOV.UK. This will allow them to stay, subject to the same rights as British natives. However, these terms are likely to change as negotiations with other European countries progress. 

Expats already settled in the United Kingdom for less than 5 years

The procedure is significantly different in this case. Expatriates will have to apply for temporary resident status. After a 5-year residency in the United Kingdom, they will be able to apply for an established resident.

Future expats

The United Kingdom has not yet decided on the consequences for those who will emigrate post-Brexit. It will put in place a new migration policy before the end of the transition period. And the terms of the new policy are not yet known. Some rights for future expatriates are, therefore, still unclear at the moment. This is the case with social rights, as well as the right to work and reside in England.

Gradually, we are beginning to see the impact Brexit will have on European expats. However, as long as negotiations continue, issues will remain uncertain. This is all the more the case for future expatriates. So far, the government has not announced anything about their case. On the other hand, expatriates who have been living for more than 5 years may feel more reassured.