EU Referendum – Possible UK Immigration Impact

The upcoming referendum may be causing concern for some, especially if the outcome leaves them unsure of their visa status.

I have received a fair number of emails recently regarding the changes in UK Immigration Law that might take place and I thought it would be useful to address them with an article.

What happens after the referendum?

If the outcome is that the vote is in favour of leaving the EU, the decision, which does not yet have binding nature, needs to be ratified by the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The minimum period that it can take to actually leave the EU is two years, but it could take longer than that. During that time, the UK is still bound by EU law, and therefore, EU nationals would still enjoy the same rights as they hold now. The same is true of UK nationals living in another EU member state.

There are several reasons in favour of not leaving, as far as issues of immigration are concerned, but below are two common questions that people have asked me:

If the UK leaves the EU:

• Would EU nationals need a visa to work, visit or stay in the UK?

It would depend on many factors. If the UK remains within the single market, EU nationals would, in principle, maintain the right of free moment allowing them to work in the UK as well as allowing UK nationals to work in other countries of the EU. However, the UK Government may decide to leave the single market, and therefore, both EU nationals working or seeking to work in the UK and vice versa, would have to apply for a work visa.

It is worth noting that more than 2 million UK nationals are currently spread all over the EU, where they enjoy access to work, pensions, education and free health care even in cases such as getting ill on holiday. If the UK decides to leave the EU, more than 2 million people would no longer retain the rights that they hold under the current circumstances.

The time that it will take for the legal process that an exit from Europe would involve will mean that these changes should not take people by surprise or happen over-night. However, an exit from Europe together with the UK leaving the single market would undeniably change things for many people. A specialist UK Immigration Lawyer will be able to advise you on your specific circumstances if you are concerned that the outcome will negatively affect you.

• Would asylum-seekers be refused refuge for having arrived, passed through or resided in another country of the EU?

While the UK attempts to curtail EU migrants by leaving the EU, they would then be obliged to receive and accept greater numbers of refugees. Indeed, if the UK leaves the EU, it would have to withdraw from the EU Law, including the Dublin Regulation – which requires refugees to stay in the first European country in which they arrive.

Under the current legal situation, if the Home Office identifies that an asylum-seeker was first seen in another EU member state, it would then proceed to send the claimant back to that country, as the UK is not responsible for assessing that asylum-claim.

Taking into account the geographical situation of the UK, the Dublin Regulation facilitates the UK in managing the flow of asylum-seekers, as many of them would have first stayed in other EU countries before reaching British shores. This matter has been addressed by former police chief Sir Hugh Orde, who states that; “In fact, if we left the EU, we would find it harder to manage the flow of migrants and asylum seekers because we would no longer be covered by its Dublin regulation.

This may not be what those on the Leave side would want us to hear, as Britain’s ability to better control its borders has often been alluded to by those in favor of a UK exit. It may be favorable news to some asylum seekers who are attempting to reach Britain but are currently dissuaded from doing so by the fact that they are most likely to have landed in another part of Europe first. In most cases though, UK Immigration Law is highly complex and it is advisable that anyone affected by the possibility of changes seeks advice from a qualified UK Immigration Solicitor.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the voters decide, and if the Leave vote wins out, what the politicians decide to do.


If you have been affected by this issue or any other UK immigration matter, please contact Tito, a UK Immigration and Human Rights Solicitor, for a Free Initial Consultation about your legal options – it’s free! Call 07544 669131 / 01163800744 Or on Skype: tito.mbariti.