Many EEA and Swiss citizens will be concerned about their immigration position in the UK and UK citizens and businesses will be concerned about their ability to live, work and do business in Europe. Furthermore, if EU free movement is restricted as a result of Brexit, we would expect to see wider changes in the UK immigration system.
There is no cause for immediate concern. The UK is still part of the EU. This means the right to free movement of people will continue to apply and this will remain the case until the UK formally leaves the EU, which could take more than 2 years. Furthermore, it may be that European citizens who are already living in the UK will be protected by transitional arrangements so they are not prejudiced by any future change in the law. The decision to leave the EU is unlikely to result in any immediate changes to the points based system for non-European migrants and in fact it may for the time being result in a freeze on significant change to the immigration system until the UK has reached agreement with the EU on free movement.
UK expats living in Europe will need to wait and see how their position is affected and we can obtain foreign advice where necessary.
We would hope that the UK will maintain a relatively liberal policy on immigration from the EU, even if more controls are introduced, and in fact there could be positive change to the immigration system as a whole, with policy less driven by the fear of vast influxes of immigrants, and more focussed on properly administering the system and encouraging the immigrants the country needs to support its future prosperity. However it should be noted that recent pronouncements by the Home Secretary and Prime Minister are discouraging as they have emphasised a continued desire to dramatically reduce the number of immigrants.
We recommend that anyone who is relying on their European citizenship (or that of their family member) reviews their position and considers applying for a residence certificate or residence card if they have not already, or for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship if they are eligible.
Those who are planning to come to the UK in the future on the basis of EEA or Swiss citizenship, or to have access to Europe by acquiring citizenship in the UK, should review their options.
UK citizens who are eligible for EU citizenship may wish to consider applying for this (although there may be no urgency).