European Union


EU citizens want to stay in the UK after Brexit

by Ray Clancy on December 5, 2016

Brexit has created a time of uncertainty for expats across Europe and it would seem that most want to stay where they are and are willing to change their status to do so.

In the UK there are millions of citizens from other European Union countries who have been working and living in the country for many years and many want to stay.

expat-brexitThere has also been more moving to the UK, perhaps with the expectation that they need to make the move sooner rather than later as it will be more difficult once the Brexit process is complete.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics sows that there has been a record level of immigration in the last 12 months with a rise of 650,000 people driven by a historically high inflow of 284,000 EU citizens before the June referendum, suggesting they have been planning ahead.

Work has proved the main attraction for the record levels of immigration, particularly from within the EU, accounting for 189,000 of the 311,000 who came to Britain for a job in the last year. More than 182,000 came to work in a definite job, but those looking for work jumped 23,000 to 130,000.

The figures from the ONS also show that in 2015 Romania became the most common country of last residence for the first time, displacing India and making up 10% of all immigrants.

On top of this EU citizens worried about their right to remain in the country have inundated the Home Office with applications to secure UK residency and this is already leading to a huge backlog.

The latest figures show that the number of outstanding applications from EU citizens to secure their residency status in Britain increased from 37,618 in June 2015 to almost 100,000 in early July 2016. Unpublished figures suggest that this surge is continuing.

According to Madeleine Sumption, the director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford University, the number of citizens of other EU countries in Britain could be as high as 3.9 million and the task of registering them after Brexit will be a formidable logistical, bureaucratic, administrative and legal task.

She told the House of Lords EU home affairs subcommittee that a work permit system would be the most practical option for controlling EU migration post-Brexit as it would take account of the various needs of the economy and it would be best not to simply limit numbers without taking individual skills into account.

There are also concerns that ending the free movement of low skilled workers from the EU could see businesses close, food prices rise and cuts to social care. According to Jonathan Portes of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, the Government needs to consider urgently how it was going to register all the EU citizens in Britain.

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