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United Kingdom (UK)

Brexit’s Impact on Immigration

19 July 2016

Brexit’s Impact on Immigration
On June 23rd 2016, a majority vote was made by the UK to leave the European Union. This surprising outcome sent the whole world in turmoil with the uncertainty of Brexit’s future implications. Now that the frenzy has somewhat subsided from this historic referendum, the immediate consequences have become a little clearer, and we would like to discuss these in this article, as well as mention the impact on high net worth individuals.

For EU Nationals currently living in the UK, the right to freedom of movement within the EU will remain unchanged at least until the UK officially leaves the EU. The time between the formal notification to leave and the official exit is estimated to last two years. This timeframe, however, generally depends on the agreement the UK and the EU will settle on, it so can vary. During this period, the current status of EU Nationals residing in the UK will not be affected.

After the initial negotiation period and when the exit from the EU is official, it is anticipated that the UK government will provide arrangements for the transition of EU nationals already in the UK. Presently, the actual arrangements have not been confirmed and it is unclear as to who will benefit from the arrangements. In other words, whether EU nationals would have to prove that they were in the UK before the date of referendum or not remains undefined. Therefore, individuals residing in the UK are advised to consolidate their UK immigration status as soon as possible, as follows:
  • Individuals who have been living in the UK for at least six years should consider applying for UK citizenship;
  • Individuals who have been living in the UK for at least five years should obtain documents confirming their permanent resident status in the UK; and
  • Individuals who have been living in the UK for fewer than five years should apply for a Registration Certificate which is a document proving an EU national’s right to reside in the UK.

For EU nationals who are not currently in the UK but plan to move to the UK in the near future, implications of Brexit will not affect short term relocation plans to the UK, however, long term relocation will require some planning. Once the UK officially leaves the European Union, EU nationals will be required to meet Britain’s immigration laws in order to be allowed to live and work in the UK. The immigration laws will entirely depend on the agreements made with the EU.

For non-Europeans in the UK, both presently and in the future, the implications of Brexit vary. Individuals who were issued an investor visa prior to November 2014 must maintain their investments at a minimum level of GBP 1 million. If the funds fall below that level, the investment must be increased until the minimum is satisfied. Due to the volatility of the market post-referendum, investors in this group are warned to monitor their investments closely for any negative fluctuations that would impact their immigrant investor files. Individuals who are in the UK through the GBP 2 million Tier 1 category are not obligated to maintain a minimum value of investments, however, if some of an investment is sold, the proceeds must be reinvested into qualifying investments.

In conclusion, both EU and non-EU nationals who are planning to reside in the UK in the future must take potential implications of Brexit on UK immigration into consideration. EU nationals currently in the UK should take the necessary steps to solidify their UK status with urgency. Although consensus is that the official exit from the EU will take at least two years, no one can predict what the future holds and individuals must take action to protect themselves and families.

High net worth individuals of non-EUropean descent often look to obtain UK passports as a means to the right to freedom of travel across member EU countries. Even though the future is filled with uncertainty, it is likely that UK citizens will still enjoy free travel across many European countries. The right to live, work and study in other EU countries may also remain. Again, only the terms of agreements reached between the UK and the EU will determine the outcome.

For more information on UK’s Tier 1 investor visa, please click here.

Please fill out our Free Assessment, and find out if you qualify under any of the business immigration programs offered.

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