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What impact will BREXIT actually have on migration?

On Saturday 20 February 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a referendum on 23 June 2016 to determine whether Britain should exit the European Union (EU).

The recently released figure of net migration into Britain of 323,000 has prompted those in the ‘Vote Leave’ camp to argue that the only way to manage (reduce) this level is to leave the EU.

Leaving aside any comment on whether net migration ought to be reduced, at this stage it is unclear what implications Brexit would actually have on migration: a vote to leave would result in further negotiations between Britain and the EU, discussing the terms of withdrawal. Of course, Britain may withdraw without the approval or agreement of the other member states, but the negotiations, which last two years if no agreement is reached and can be lengthened by agreement, are mandatory under Britain’s legal obligations (Article 50, Treaty on European Union).

And it may be that whilst Britain chooses to leave the EU, it may nevertheless choose the Norwegian model, for example, which is to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA), enabling crucial free movement of trade but also of persons (that is, EEA nationals and their family members) across members’ borders. Alternatively, ‘leave’ could mean exiting from all current unions, and the UK could choose instead to form agreements on a country-by-country basis. Clearly the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign would do well to specify what its long-term intentions are.

In spite of this lack of clarity, the concept of Brexit is not unpopular, nor impossible: a YouGov poll taken over the weekend of the announcement of the referendum suggests that voters are presently evenly split.

For EEA nationals currently in the UK, and for whom the talk of Brexit causes some panic, if you have acquired the right of permanent residence, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen. What’s more, in theory, if you were to apply today and were successful, you may even be able to vote in the referendum in June.

London Immigration Barristers

To discuss your eligibility for a document certifying permanent residence, indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, contact our EEA immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.



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