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Legal Guide for EU and EFTA Citizens Post Brexit

If you are planning on applying for British citizenship and you are currently an EU citizen, you will need to determine whether you have the right to a UK residence card, an EEA family permit or a UK spouse visa. Knowing what your options are will help you to determine what you should do next.

Under the EU freedom of movement regulations, most EU/EFTA citizens can, at this time, live and work in the UK and are allowed to have their relatives or partners live with them too. This could change in the coming months because of the result of the 2016 Brexit vote and the triggering of Article 50.

The UK immigration policy means that people who are EU/EFTA citizens moving to the UK do not need a permit. There are some exceptions to this, such as restrictions for Croatian Nationals, but for the most part EU citizens qualify for permanent residence status if they remain in the UK for more than five years and they do not need to apply for a UK residence card to get this.

There are different conditions for non-EU/EFTA nationals that plan on coming to the UK, and the rules for individual countries can differ dramatically so it is best to check the rules for the country you are from.

Our guide to UK Immigration policy for EFTA/EU Citizens and their family members covers:

  • The UK Immigration policy for EFTA/EU Citizens
  • What Brexit may mean for EU Citizens in the UK
  • The right for EU/EFTA Citizens to work in the UK
  • Special rules for Croatians moving to the United Kingdom
  • EU/EFTA Citizens who are Students in the UK
  • Applying for the UK Residence Card
  • Spouse visas and family permits
  • Applying for British Citizenship as a citizen of the EU

The UK immigration policy is a complex matter. The UK is an EU member state, at this moment, and this means that citizens of the other member states and citizens of countries that are a part of the European Free Trade Association can travel to the UK without needing a visa, and are permitted to live and work in the UK. The Freedom of Movement principle is an important part of the EU Treaty. As long as a person does not have any outstanding criminal convictions, they are not subject to any restrictions on their movement.

The UK opted out of the Schengen Agreement, and this means that it has its own border controls. EU/EFTA citizens need to present a passport when they enter the country. There are no requirements for people from the EU to register their stay with the immigration authorities and there are no requirements for people to have a UK residence card. Non-EU/EFTA residents are, however, subject to different rules depending on which part of the world they are traveling from.

The freedom of movement for people from EU/EFTA countries and the ability for those people to work in the UK and enjoy visa-free travel as well as the right to study or to settle in the UK is something that will change following Brexit and a reason many are hiring British citizenship lawyers.

Info For EU, EEA & Swiss Citizens

If you’re a Swiss Citizen, EU or EEA citizen, then you and your family can apply to live in the UK after June 2021. You do this via the EU Settlement Scheme. If your application is approved, then you’ll designated one of two status, with one being pre-settled  and the other being settled.

The European Economic Area includes countries within the EU. It also includes Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Some people might not have to apply in order to remain in the UK. This includes those who have indefinite leave to remain or Irish citizens.

When Can You Apply

The scheme is currently open. If you meet the criteria, feel free to apply. However, the deadline to apply is June 2021. The status you might get depends on the time you apply. Be aware that you will need to be living in the United Kingdom if the UK eventually leaves the EU. The deadline is 2020, so apply before then, otherwise you might not have the chance to do it again.

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