Brexit: The Potential Implications of the UK Leaving the EU

In the second of our blog series on Brexit we explore the implications for EU citizens, should the UK leave the EU.

The result of the Brexit debate is likely to have an immediate impact on the lives of 2.5 million EU citizens currently residing in the UK, as well as a similar number of British citizens living in the rest of Europe.

Accordingly, the discussions currently taking place in the media has focused the minds of the many EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in EU member states. Those who have already moved to the UK and the EU are likely to be experiencing uncertainty and anxiety about losing their rights to remain in their respective regions.

In the light of this, our advice for EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in Europe is to secure confirmation of their status and, where possible, to acquire the nationality of their respective host country. For more on this, please contact us below.

In the wake of Brexit, three potential scenarios could arise:

  1. The UK stays in the European Economic Area (EEA). If this happens, there would be no change to the rules affecting EU citizens in the UK, or UK citizens across the EU.
  2. The UK and the EU negotiate a special Agreement. At this stage, it is premature to hypothesize on the nature of this potential agreement. A plausible scenario would be an agreement safeguarding the acquired rights of both resident UK/EU population respectively in the EU and the UK; but applying the full rigours of immigration rules after the UK exit from the EU.
  3. No agreement is reached, with the consequence that the UK applies its immigration rules to all EU citizens present in the UK. Likewise, UK citizens become subject to both EU and national immigration rules across the EU.

For present purposes, our focus is on the second scenario listed above.

The UK:

Permanent EU citizens (and family members) could be compelled to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Those not qualifying for permanent residence could be compelled to obtain limited leave to remain in the UK, subject to proving exercising their rights of residence in the UK (as workers, self-employed persons or self-sufficient persons).

For newcomers, the UK immigration rules would apply.

It is safe to assume EU citizens would be non-visa nationals; thus, able to come for visits without a visa (subject to proving they are genuine visitors). However, for any stay beyond 6 months, for the purposes of employment, business, study or family, a UK visa/permit would be required, with the full rigours of UK immigration rules.

The EU:

UK citizens presumably would become non-visa nationals for the purposes of EU/Schengen member states for visits (subject to proving the genuineness of the visit), with a maximum allowed stay of 90 days in a period of 180.

Any UK citizen looking to stay in the EU for any longer period than 90 days, (for employment or self-employment, business, study, and/or family based immigration) would be required to obtain a visa or a permit from the member state in question, with the potential for an “integration” test, requiring UK citizens to prove knowledge of the language of the host member state.

UK citizens could not move at will from one member state to another, even after settlement in a member state.

Any UK citizen committing an immigration breach would be blacklisted on the Schengen Information System, and thus subject to an entry ban across the EU for a period of 5 years.

Should you require further information or advice on how Brexit may affect you or your company, please email us at

Contact Newland Chase