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Stevens Machi Solicitors

The latest immigration and visa law news, blogs and announcements from Stevens Machi.

EU Migration Post-Brexit

There are an estimated three million EU citizens currently living in the UK, and the majority of the British public believe they should be allowed to remain living here after Brexit, recent research has found.

Support for Allowing EU Migrants to Stay

The research, which was conducted by ICM for the think-tank British Future, found that as much as 84% of the British public are in favour of letting migrants from the EU stay in the UK.

Only 16% are of the opinion that EU migrants should be made to leave the UK after Brexit and that UK citizens living in other EU countries should have to come back.

Administrative Challenge

A recent report from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has highlighted that the Government faces what it calls an ‘immense administrative exercise’ when it comes to securing the residence rights of these three million EU migrants.

The report looks at the procedure currently in place for EU citizens to apply for permanent residence and uses this to suggest some of the possible issues facing the Government in any new registration scheme put in place post-Brexit.

According to the report, the Government has signalled that it 'expects' to protect the long-term status of EU migrants already living here if the UK decides to end free movement, but the process of doing this may be complex.

If all EEA citizens already living in the UK in early 2016 applied for permanent residence at once, this would represent the equivalent of around 140 years’ worth of work at recent rates of processing for this type of application.

"Depending on how long Brexit negotiations take, the Government may need to register EU citizens already living here quite quickly,” explained Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory. “Given the sheer number of EU citizens who would need to register and the potential complexity of the process, this will be a formidable task."

Confusion Exists

The report also warns that if a post-Brexit registration process is modelled on existing rules for registering EU citizens as permanent residents, a substantial minority of EU citizens could find themselves ineligible despite having lived in the country for several years.

In addition, the report highlights that there is already a certain amount of confusion around the current permanent residence rules for students and self-sufficient people such as retirees, who may not know that they are expected to have comprehensive sickness insurance while in the UK.

"This is an area of law that has not received much attention so far, but it is about to become a lot more important,” added Madeleine Sumption. “Around a third of applications are either refused or deemed invalid because they do not include all the right paperwork. With a much larger number of people now in the pipeline, the complexity of the process is likely to come under scrutiny."

The report concludes by pointing out that Brexit negotiations are still in an early stage, and no details have been given on what any future registration process for EU citizens would look like and who would qualify. It is therefore possible that a much simpler system will be introduced than the one currently in place.

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For legal advice on the issues discussed here, or on any other UK immigration matter, then contact our expert UK immigration lawyers today.

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