Yesterday Article 50 was officially triggered. We can now stop talking about ‘if’ and ‘when’ the momentous event happens, that ship has now sailed.
And many EU nationals are already feeling the consequences of Brexit in unexpected ways.
It has been reported today that banks are already denying EU nationals mortgages due to the uncertainty of their residency status.
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Mortgages being denied
Patricia Connell, a French national who has lived in Britain for 30 years, told The Independent that she has heard cases of lending institutions refusing to grant EU nationals mortgages if they could not show they had Permanent Residence status. Rumours are also circulating that employers are breaching discrimination laws by only offering fixed term contracts to EU citizens who do not have a Permanent Residence Card.
Brexit has already brought hundreds of complex issues to the surface that were never considered by those behind the EU Referendum (including, cynics argue, was what happens if Leave wins). Many would contend that mortgage lenders must manage their risk or face financial ruin. If they have no guarantee that an EU national applying for a loan will be entitled to remain in the country, how can they justify lending them hundreds of thousands of pounds?
Employers are in an even more vulnerable position. Imagine if you run a small business with narrow profit margins. You have two ideal candidates applying for a vacant position; one a UK citizen and one an EU national. The job requires a significant investment in training. Do you risk taking on a person who may or may not be permitted to remain in Britain in the long-term? Is it fair to ask business owners to shoulder such a risk to their growth and bottom line?
landlords are another group who must manage their financial exposure. Most landlords have mortgages on the homes they are renting out, therefore long-term, stable tenants are highly sought after. Who could expect a landlord to choose an EU national over a British Citizen or even someone with Indefinite Leave to Remain if the latter groups can guarantee they have a long-term right to remain in residence.
EU nationals’ rights must be clarified immediately
Employers, landlords and even banks are not to blame for the current mess we find ourselves in. The vulnerable, precarious state that EU nationals living in the UK currently find themselves in, is the fault of the UK government. Both immigration solicitors and pressure groups such as 3Million have repeatedly done their best to implore the British government to offer some guarantee of the rights of EU nationals living in the UK but to no avail. Theresa May has always insisted that no guarantees can be made until the EU bloc outlines how it will treat UK nationals living in the remaining 27 member states.
Few people would have predicted the consequences facing EU nationals living in the UK, who are effectively being left adrift in an immigration ‘no man's land’ until the British government grants them the right to stay permanently. Or not.
Either way, the best protection available for EU nationals who have made the UK their home is through an EU Permanent Resident Card or obtaining British Citizenship. If you are unsure of whether you meet the criteria - for example, if you are a student and you do not have comprehensive sickness insurance, an immigration lawyer can provide you with the best advice as to your current residency status.
It is likely that as negotiations progress, we will hear about more situations where EU nationals are paying the price for a Brexit most of them never wanted. We can only hope that the government solidifies their residency rights before any more ‘surprises’ occur.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We can assist you in applying for a Permanent Residence Card and British Citizenship and answer any question you may have on your rights to remain in the UK following Brexit.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on `0207 936 9960.
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Posted on: Thursday, 30 March, 2017