The “Brexit” debate will be on the minds of EEA nationals who have moved to the UK for work. Those who have been here for some time will be concerned that they could lose their right to remain in the UK. A change in the regulations governing the rights of European nationals is fueling this concern. In November 2015, European nationals lost the automatic acquisition of permanent residence after five years exercising treaty rights in the UK.
Now a European national must make an application for confirmation of permanent residence if he or she wishes 12 months later to apply for naturalization as a British citizen. This means the national will have to make two applications and wait 12 months between each application.
Although this extra burden could be unfavourable to any Europeans wanting a British passport, the likelihood is that protecting the Europeans who are in the UK will form part of the negotiations of any Brexit. Similarly, thought will need to be given during negotiations to those British nationals who are living in other European countries.
Since there is some ambiguity, we recommend that European nationals act now to secure confirmation of their status.