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Brexit - the implications for EEA workers, students and family members

A guide for RCN members on 'Brexit' and the implications for European Economic Area (EEA) workers, students and family members.


If you are an EEA national working or studying in the UK, what does ‘Brexit’ mean for you?

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Immediate implications

There are none. As an EEA national you are entitled to reside in the UK as long as you are a ‘qualified person’ or a ‘family member’ of a ‘qualified person’. A ‘qualified person’ is defined as one of the following: 

  • job seeker 
  • worker/self-employed person 
  • self-sufficient person 
  • student

There is no mandatory requirement for you to have formalised your right to reside in the UK as a qualified person or a family member of a qualified person. This continues to be the case following the result of the EU Referendum.

However, the Home Office may make it difficult for such applications to be pursued once a timetable is put in place to formally withdraw from the EU.

It is important that our EU members take steps to protect their immigration status while the law is still in place for them to do so.

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What should you do?

Although there is no mandatory requirement for you to formalise your right to reside in the UK as a qualified person, or family member of a qualified person, we advise you to formalise your stay due to the uncertainty of the impending implications of ‘Brexit’. You can do this in the following ways:

Qualified person for less than 5 years: apply for a registration certificate confirming your entitlement to reside in the UK as a ‘qualified person’. The link to the application can be found here on the UK Visas and Immigration website.  

Qualified person for 5 years or more: apply for a permanent residence card confirming your entitlement to reside in the UK permanently. The link to the application can be found here on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

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Applying for Naturalisation

From 12 November 2015 an EEA national with permanent rights of residency can only apply for naturalisation once they have acquired a permanent residence card. Therefore you will need to apply for the same using the link above and then apply to naturalise as a British citizen using form 'AN'. The link to the application for naturalisation can be found here on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

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Family members of a qualified person

If you have lived with your EEA family member for 5 years and they have been a qualified person for those 5 years, or have permanent residence you can also get permanent residence if you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. The link to the application for permanent residence can be found here on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

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Further information

The Cavendish Coalition - coalition of health and social care organisations (including the RCN) created to ensure standards of care are maintained as Britain withdraws from the European Union.

The UK Visas and Immigration website has guidance notes on how to complete all of the relevant forms. Contact us if you require any further information or assistance in completing the forms.

NHS Employers: Brexit and the NHS workforce

NHS European Office: Brexit and the NHS

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