Many South Africans are concerned about how Brexit can affect their UK immigration status directly or indirectly. Here is the latest update and advice from Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants on the issue.
Latest developments on Brexit
The UK Government released a policy paper on the position of EU citizens in the UK at the end of June 2017. According to this paper, the government’s first priority is to find a suitable agreement on the position of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK and of UK nationals living in other EU countries.
It states that the UK will honour the EU citizens’ expectations to settle permanently in this country as the choice made in the Brexit Referendum will not unravel his previous commitments.
After the exit of the UK from the EU, all EU citizens will be required to apply to the Home Office for permission to stay under the UK law, for either temporary or settled status.
In particular, those who have resided in the UK for five years (before a specified date which is deemed to be no earlier than 29/03/2017 and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU) will be able to apply for settlement. Those EU citizens who came to the UK before the specified date but have not yet resided in the country for five years will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident until they have accumulated five years, after which they will be eligible to apply for settled status.
No expectation of guaranteed settled status will be given to those EU citizens who came to the UK after the specified date and the possibility to obtain settled status will depend on their specific circumstances.
Please note that at present and until the UK formally leaves the EU, nothing has changed and EU nationals and their family members who wish to come or remain in the UK will continue to enjoy the same rights under the EU legislation.
FAQ from South Africans On Brexit
I am a South African citizen, working in the UK. Will Brexit affect my immigration situation?
South African citizens are likely to be mostly affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU if they are family members of EU nationals, as it will no longer be possible to benefit from the more favourable regime provided by the EU law.
South Africans with other permits and visas in the UK will not be affected.
How will South Africans with EU passorts, wanting to work in the UK in the future, be affected by Brexit?
Once the UK formally leaves the EU, EU nationals (including dual SA/EU nationals) may be required to apply for a visa under the UK domestic immigration legislation (e.g. for a work permit). It is unclear, at this stage, whether the UK government will introduce some new visa categories or whether the existing immigration categories will be used for these new applications.
My wife is a European Citizen with Permanent Residence in the UK. Does she also need to re-apply for confirmation of settlement?
Given the fact that EU citizens who have already acquired permanent residence in the UK would need to re-apply for confirmation of their settled status under UK law, Breytenbachs would like to suggest that persons under these circumstances look at applying for British Citizenship.
Many EEA nationals have never considered the idea of applying for British Citizenship. However, becoming a British citizen will definitely solve the issue of an EU national’s status in the UK.
Should you have any specific questions regarding your specific situation, Breytenbachs Immigration will be happy to assist. Please feel free to contact us for more information at www.bic-immigration.com or fill out the form below.