Article 50 – what EU citizens need to know

March 29, 2017 Immigration news

Article 50 – what EU citizens need to know

In response to many calls and emails from EU citizens worried about their status after Article 50 has been invoked today, we have put together a brief summary on what this means.

Article 50 has not changed the law. The rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK are still the exact same. Only a change in the EU Treaties can amend the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK. This is likely to be a very lengthy process, which needs to be agreed by all EU member states.

EU citizens can still enter the UK to work, to study, to set up a business or to reside as self-sufficient persons. After 5 years in the UK they can look to apply for the right to permanent residence.

The right to reside also extends to family members of EU citizens (including non EU citizens).

Obviously the process of the UK withdrawing from the EU has now formally begun. This means the UK will leave by March 2019.

What shape the post-Brexit UK will take is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps, a transitional deal to continue to allow free movement will continue for a period of up to 5 years. However, EU citizens and their families should be prepared for a so called “hard Brexit” which would mean that after March 2019, the right to reside in the UK (and to work, study, run a business) would require some documentation.

At the moment, there are 2 types of documents open to EU citizens and their families.

Firstly, permanent residence can be applied for after five continuous years of possession of the right of residence. This means being a “Qualified Person” for 5 years such as a Worker, Self employed person, Jobseeker, Student, Self-sufficient person. Family Members of EU citizens can also apply for permanent residence.

Secondly, an EU citizen currently in the UK can look to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate to confirm that he / she is exercising an EU Treaty Right. This would include employment, self-employment, studying or self-sufficient persons.

This Registration Certificate confirms that the applicant is currently living in the UK and is lawfully exercising an EU Treaty Right. This is usually not a very complicated application – the applicant just needs to show they are currently exercising an EU Treaty Right and not that they have being do so for any set period of months or years.

Please note – it is not at all mandatory to apply for a Registration Certificate but if there is a future cut-off date where EU free movement to the UK is stopped, then this document could prove very useful to confirm the EU national is already resident in the UK under EU law.

If you have any enquiries on applying for EEA documents then please email us on