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The United Kingdom will leave the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019 and the UK Government have outlined various proposals on the rights of EU citizens after this time.

The Present Arrangements

Currently, there is no legal requirement for EU citizens to acquire a document certifying their immigration status. The right to work is simply given by operation of law. In other words, holding an EU passport is sufficient to show that you have the right to live and work in the UK. This will change after Brexit and all EU citizens must apply for appropriate documents in order to prove their right to reside and work. However, the right of EU nationals (and their family members) to reside and work in the UK will not stop on Brexit date and the two immigration application systems under EU and UK law will run concurrently for a period of time.

Applications for the new immigration status will open to all EU citizens and their family members living in the UK on Brexit date (29 March 2019). The new statuses will take the form of:

  • Settled Status (akin to Indefinite Leave) for those who have completed a period of five years in the UK; OR
  • Pre-Settled Status (akin to Limited Leave) for those who have not yet completed five years UK residence at the point of application.

The applications under the EU Settled Scheme are to be open to EU nationals and their family members until 30 June 2021 and those who are already here or who move to the UK before 31 December 2020 will also be able to apply. The UK government ran a pilot scheme allowing applications to be for settled and pre-settled status in advance of 29 March 2019. Currently, this pilot scheme has moved to its second phase.

EU Settled Pilot Scheme (2nd Phase)

Whilst the first phase was only open to EU nationals and their family members if the EU national was working for selected NHS trusts, the second phase opened on 29 November 2018 to:

  • EU nationals (and their family members); who
  • Work in the Health Care Sector (Private and NHS), Dentistry, or Care Services.

We have successfully processed an application for the new  ‘EU settled’ status recently. We received the approval letter on the day of the application and it confirmed that our EU client was granted ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK’. Our client will now look forward to naturalising as a British Citizen after a further 12 months of residence in the UK. We strongly encourage every EU citizen and their non-EU national family members who are eligible to do so to participate in phase two of the pilot EU Scheme, subject to what we write below.

EU Nationals wanting to naturalise as a British citizen in less than a year

If you and/or any of your family members:

  • are an EU National;
  • have been resident in the UK for at least 5 years; AND
  • want to naturalise as a British Citizen within the next year (i.e. do not want to wait a further 12 months before naturalising)

then you should seek our advice before you take any further steps.

One of the requirements for Naturalisation as a British Citizen is that the applicant has been a permanent resident or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain/Enter for the last 12 months immediately before the application is submitted. It is important to note that this “Permanent Residence” status can be issued by operation of law (and not merely by application). Since you have already been resident in the UK more than 5 years, you were most likely ‘deemed’ a permanent resident at an earlier date in the past. Where permanent residence was issued automatically in the past, the EU National may not have to wait a further 12 months to naturalise as a British Citizen.

Dual Nationality

There are several European countries who only permit dual nationality with another EU country. If/when the UK leaves the EU, then these countries may not allow such dual nationality. As a result, acquiring British nationality could affect your current citizenship status. You are advised to check with your Embassy.

EU Nationals with children born in the UK

If you are an EU National with children born in the UK and the children are under 18 years of age, then it should be possible to register the children as British citizens if:

  • One of the parents was a permanent resident (even if this is a “deemed” status in law) or a British or Irish citizen at the time the child was born. In this case, the child is automatically British at birth;
  • One of the parents subsequently becomes a permanent resident (even if this is a “deemed” status in law) or a British or Irish citizen (though this must take place before the child turns 18);
  • The child lives continuously in the UK for the first ten years of their life; OR
  • The child is born stateless (i.e. without acquiring the nationality of the parents automatically at birth), though an application to register the child must take place before the child turns 18.
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Ask Philip Gamble whether you (or your children) have a claim to British nationality.

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Learn more about these routes to British Nationality:

WhatPassport.com is a specialist UK Nationality and British Citizenship site offering an online search and assessment. Claims to hold a British Passport can be complex and the site offers a quick, simple search to give you the answers. While many people qualify for the UK Ancestry Visa based on holding a Commonwealth passport with a UK born grandmother or grandfather, we have found that if you have a grandparent born in the UK, or if your mother is British or your father is British, then there are several scenarios where you can claim British Nationality and the right to hold a British Passport. This stems from Britain’s collection of British Colonies, British Protectorates and British Protected States in the middle of last century and the Nationality rules concerning what are now the countries of the Commonwealth.

WhatPassport.com is a subsidiary of Sable International.

Sable International offers a range of services relating to UK and Australian immigration. For over 20 years, we have been helping people with their UK and Australian visa applications. We assist with applications for Ancestry visas, spouse visas, work visas, Tier 1 visas, UK working holiday visas, UK dependant visas, Tier 4 visas, UK Visitor visas, sponsorship visas or UK permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain. We also specialise in UK visa extensions. If you’ve overstayed your visa, our Overstayer Status Trace service can assist to regularise your visa status.