Impact on Brexit for EEA nationals

Last updated: 11 April 2017 – Brexit information will be added as announced, bookmark this page and check back for regular updates from our team of Immigration Experts on how this affects you, your family and your business.


Brexit is underway. Article 50 was triggered on 29 March 2017. The UK looks on course to leave the EU by spring 2019. The future status of EEA nationals and their family members in the UK remains unclear pending the outcome of negotiations on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

11 April 2017

Latest Home Office information for EU nationals living in the UK

29 March 2017

The first stage in the formal proceedings for Britain to leave the EU starts today.  The Prime Minister, Theresa May, submitted a letter to the EU Commission which triggers Article 50 and signals the start of the negotiation process.  The process is likely to take around two years.  Read the full letter.

The status of EEA nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EEA remains the same pending the negotiations. There has been much discussion around when the “cut off” date will be for exercising rights of free movement under the EU Treaty but for now nothing further is known. We will continue to update this page and our advice as any changes are announced.

In the meantime our advice remains that EEA nationals and their family members living in the UK should seek residence documentation to confirm their right to live and work in the UK.

20 March 2017

The Prime Minister will officially notify the EU on 29 March 2017 that the UK is leaving, triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

Downing Street have said that the EU are expected to agree to the terms and send an initial response within 48 hours.

The process of formal negotiations will then commence to agree the arrangements for the UK to withdraw from the EU.

The Treaty on European Union provides that the withdrawal process will end automatically two years after Article 50 is triggered, unless agreement is reached sooner or an extension agreed.  According to BBC News,  EU leaders have said that they want to conclude the negotiations in 18 months so that the terms of the UK’s withdrawal can be ratified by the UK and European Parliaments, as well as the required majority of EU member states.

Provided that the negotiations are concluded within the two year period, the UK looks on course to leave by spring 2019.

The rights of EU and EEA nationals and their family members in the UK, as well as those of British nationals living in other EEA countries, will form part of the negotiations.

For now their rights remain the same. Under EU law EEA nationals are entitled to reside in the UK providing they are exercising Treaty rights and to have their family members here with them.

Whilst there is no current requirement in EU law for EEA nationals or their family members to obtain Registration Certificates or Residence Cards, it is our advice that they now consider doing so to have evidence of their rights of residence and seek advice if required to ensure that their rights are protected.

UK business providers should also consider checking which of their workers is currently reliant on exercising Treaty rights.  Our advice is to encourage employees to obtain proof of their right to remain as soon as possible. In addition, businesses can put systems in place with a view to possible increased immigration checks for workers being introduced once the UK leaves the EU.

For further advice on European Economic Area (EEA) rights visit our specialist page


13 March 2017

The House of Commons has passed the Brexit Bill, abandoning the Lords amendments.

The latest update suggests Article 50 will be triggered by end of March 2017.

22 February 2017

With the House of Lords debating the Brexit bill this week (22 Feb 2017), it remains keen speculation that the Lords may seek to force through an amendment that the Government guarantee the rights of EEA nationals living in the UK now ahead of the negotiations commencing. This amendment had been proposed in the House of Commons but was rejected.

In the meantime the future rights of EEA nationals and their families to remain in the UK are unclear EU citizens living in the UK could face legal limbo after Brexit

Our advice is to seek to obtain a Residence Certificate or Card or a document certifying Permanent Residence if possible as evidence of your status in the UK.

In addition, new Immigration Regulations came into force from 1 February 2017 which affect how applications for EEA residents documents will be considered.  Read our latest blog post on this New regulations for EEA Nationals (Feb 2017)

15 February 2017

The Government’s long-awaited statement in January did not provide any further clarity and nor have the subsequent Parliamentary debates. Importantly the amendment to the Brexit bill proposed by opposition parties that the government guarantee the rights of EEA nationals to remain was defeated.

The official line is still that this is to be decided as part of the negotiations once Article 50 is triggered along with the status of British nationals in other EEA member states.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has however written a letter to reassure some MP’s about the rights of EU citizens. This was referred to (it appears by accident) during the debate on 8 February 2017 and has since been circulated widely. Letter to Conservative MPs

The letter repeats the official line but offers some welcome assurance that the government want to make securing the status of EU nationals in the UK “a priority” once Article 50 is triggered and that it will then be settled by a separate Immigration bill.

5 October 2016

The Prime Minister announced on 2 October 2016 that Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March 2017 and so the UK looks on course to leave the EU by spring or summer 2019.

BBC update 2 October 2016

There is ongoing uncertainty about whether EU nationals and their families will continue to be able to live and work in the UK after Brexit.  The International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, said on 4 October 2016 that the Government “would like to be able to give a reassurance to EU nationals in the UK but that depends on reciprocation by other countries” but “to give that away before we get into a negotiation is to hand over one of our main cards in that negotiation and doesn’t necessarily make sense at this point.”  Liam Fox 4 October 2016

It seems that the future rights of EU nationals are likely to remain unclear for some time whilst negotiations take place. Our advice is for EU and EEA nationals and their family members to obtain proof of their current right to remain now, and ideally prior to Article 50 being triggered, especially if they wish to remain in the UK long term.

There are three possible ways to obtain proof of the right to reside in the UK:

  • If you have worked, studied or been self-sufficient in the UK for less than 5 years you can apply for a Registration Certificate
  • If you have worked, studied or been self-sufficient in the UK for over 5 years you can apply for a Permanent Residence document
  • If you already have Permanent Residence you can apply to become a British national

Many EU and EEA nationals working here are in posts crucial to the UK economy. Businesses can seek to future proof staffing issues and minimise disruption by preparing and implementing an immigration strategy for staff who are EU nationals. Our advice is to encourage employees to obtain proof of their right to remain as soon as possible.

As well as confirming the date of the commencement of the Brexit process, the Government made announcements about changes to other UK immigration laws on 4 October 2016. It appears likely that they will undertake wider scale reform of immigration law leading up to and following Brexit which will affect other non-British/EEA nationals either already in the UK or wishing to come here. Seeking advice on the options available now to secure your immigration status is our recommendation.

24 June 2016 – our correspondence to clients following the referendum result:

Following the unexpected result of the EU Referendum vote, many clients, whether individuals and businesses, will be concerned about the impact of the on their immigration options.

The Government have said that there will be no immediate changes. Negotiations will however soon begin to achieve the UK’s exit.

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon provides the legal basis for a member of the EU to exit. It gives a timescale of 2 years for this process once it formally commences.

It is not yet clear whether this will indeed be how long the process will take.

The impact on UK domestic immigration law and human rights provisions is also not yet known.

As the situation becomes clearer we will be able to advise on the implications for you.

Please do contact us if you have any queries.

Contact Us

Contact us to find out how we can assist you.

You can talk to June Holmes by telephone on 0191 243 8164 or contact her by email to

Or you can complete our FREE Assessment Form and one of our immigration specialists will contact you discuss your requirements in further detail.

For further advice on EU and EEA rights, visit our European Economic Area (EEA) Rights page