The UK decision to leave the EU will have profound implications for all of us.
Immigration and Brexit
Here is our attempt at trying to predict the future:
The first thing the United Kingdom has to do, following the vote, is to give notice of withdrawal. It will then have two years to negotiate a withdrawal agreement. It is the content of that agreement that matters to us most of all. What is obvious, however, is that the EU will have the upper hand in these withdrawal negotiations.
The only alternative to a withdrawal agreement would be the UK attempting to enter into a bilateral agreement with all 27 remaining member states. That will be very complex because each negotiation would have to be assessed by reference to the impact on all the other negotiations being undertaken. Therefore, it is right to assume that the UK will be negotiating with the EU as a whole and that the EU would have the upper hand.
What will that mean to you as an EU national, as an employer or as a non EU family member?
It means that in principle, all EU migrants are subject directly to UK domestic immigration law. There are currently around 3 million EU migrants in the UK. The vast majority of them, including those with permanent residence rights, would now in principle be required to regularise their position. Many of them will not currently have Residence Cards because they have never needed them, but now they will. No doubt there will be transitional arrangements. That means that there will be an enormous number of immigration applications to process and based on our past experience of dealings with the Home Office, it might be difficult for them to cope with the large volume of applications all at the same time.
That will lead to mistakes, challenges and onward appeals and the consequences for the individuals will be horrendous. We envisage that individuals might be stopped and detained at ports on return from holiday. Employers and landlords will face illegal working or illegal renting proceedings. Immigration sponsor licences will be required for businesses, and time and money will need to be spent resolving mistakes.
What will happen to the retired grandmothers in Costa Del Sol? What will happen to the affluent few who have properties in Tuscany? What will happen to the British nationals who work in Europe? We are facing uncertainty and a period of upheaval.