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Factsheet: EEA nationals and Brexit

What does Brexit mean?

‘Brexit’ refers to the referendum in the UK on whether the UK should remain or leave the European Union (EU).

The UK public has voted on 23rd June 2016 to leave the EU.

What does the vote to leave the EU mean?

The UK has not left the EU yet. There is a possibility that this might not happen.

If the UK does decide to leave the EU, some laws will likely change in the future, but not immediately.

Everything will stay the same until new laws are made.

What does it mean for EU citizens?

If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, your rights to live, work or get benefits won’t change unless the government passes new laws.

Changes to the law will be announced before they happen, so you’ll have time to prepare if you’re affected.

How can I prepare for an official Brexit?

The first step to try and mitigate against the possible effects of Brexit would be to consider applying for a residence card or a document certifying permanent residence in the UK.      

Neither of these documents are compulsory. They simply confirm the rights already held by the EEA national. But they are a simple way for EEA nationals to prove they were exercising their free movement rights in the UK before any UK withdrawal from the EU[1].

Certificate of permanent residence

If you have been continuously resident in the UK for at least 5 years AND during that time you have been a ‘qualified person’ (see below), you can apply for a certificate recognising permanent residence. This is also a step towards getting British citizenship.

EEA nationals should use Form EEA [PR] and family members (direct or extended) Form EEA [PR]. The cost is £65 per person.

Extended Family Members (includes unmarried partners)

You can only apply as an extended family member if you have held valid residence documentation (registration certificate, residence card, or EEA family permit) throughout the relevant qualifying period.

Registration certificate

If you are currently a ‘qualified person’ but have been resident for less than 5 years, you can apply for a registration certificate which shows you have a right to reside, work and rent property in the UK. This document may also be important to evidence your immigration status if, and when, laws are changed in the future.

EEA nationals should use Form EEA [QP] and family members (direct or extended) Form EEA [FM]. The cost is £65 per person.

Qualified persons

You can be a ‘qualified person’ by being a:

  • Worker;
  • Self-employed person;
  • Job seeker, if registered with the Job Centre and actively looking for work, for a limited time;
  • Self-sufficient person with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance;
  • Student with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance;
  • A direct family member of a ‘qualified person’ (child, spouse etc.);
  • An extended family member, who is financially dependent on a ‘qualified person’.

For more details on the rules around being a qualified person, ask someone from New Europeans for a copy of the Right to Reside Guide for EU citizens.

The rules are complex and you should get legal advice as to whether you are a qualified person or not.

Where can I seek help?

Your local law centre – find yours here:

[1] The AIRE Centre (2016) Information note on the UK referendum decision and its potential implications. Available from: 


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