Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was triggered today which starts a period of negotiation between the UK and EU on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

How may this affect you?

Article 50 formally triggers the process that will lead to the UK leaving the EU. The UK will not leave the EU until that process has ended. The period of negotiation should take two years but commentators predict that it will take longer. Until the UK officially leaves the EU, the UK is still part of the EU and EU law will continue to apply as normal.

Will the status of EU citizens in the UK be affected from today?

There are no changes to the status of EU citizens and their family members in the UK as of today. Nor is there any change to the rules governing EU citizens and their family wanting to come to live and work in the UK for the first time.

Theresa May has expressed her desire to guarantee the status of EU citizens and their family members in the UK once the UK officially leaves the EU and David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has said this will be the first issue that the Government will seek to solve through the negotiation process. Mrs May has reiterated, in her letter to the EU today, that an early agreement should be reached on this.

However, as highlighted in our “Brexit means Brexit” article, their status is not currently guaranteed and after the UK has left the EU, we are likely to see an end to the freedom of movement rights currently enjoyed by migrants from EEA countries.

We expect to have more information after the summit of EU member states is held on 29 April. We will release further updates as soon as more is known.

In the meantime, we recommend that EU citizens living in the UK take steps to obtain documents confirming their right to remain in the UK. Those who have been in the UK lawfully for 5 years can apply for a Permanent Residence Card and those who have been here for less than 5 years can apply for a Registration Certificate.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this article, please do not hesitate to contact Danielle Ramdel or Clare Taylor in our Employment & Immigration Team.