Legal immigration experts have expressed concern that the message is not getting across to EEA migrants in the UK that they must re-apply for residential status to remain in the country post-Brexit.
The issues came under the spotlight at the Annual Immigration Seminar, hosted by No5 Barristers’ Chambers.
Speakers Mark Bradshaw and Jessica Smeaton examined the legal process such individuals will face if the country leaves the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.
Mark expressed fears that EEA migrants currently in the UK with residence cards or permanent residence may not realise that they need to reapply under the EU settlement scheme to ensure they do not end up living in the UK unlawfully.
He said: “The issues surrounding Brexit seem to be changing on a daily basis, however at the moment, I don’t think the reality of the immigration situation is hitting home – that even people with permanent residence must reapply.
“When we leave the EU, there is no automatic status and I do not think that the message is getting through to people, especially those who have been living in the country for years, even decades, and I fear that they are most at risk of overstaying.”
Jessica pointed out that there is a system for EEA nationals and their families whether the UK leaves in accordance with a Withdrawal Agreement or in the event of a no deal.
“At the moment, there is set to be a transition period and EEA migrants will, in general, need to apply within a set timeframe for settled or pre-settled status if they want to remain in the UK,” she said.
She added that the situation and the current timeframes could change, therefore people needed to monitor the situation closely.
Other talks during the seminar included Deprivation of Nationality delivered by James Dixon, which put the Shamima Begum case in context, technical aspects of immigration law delivered by Edward Nicholson and Miran Uddin, unlawful detention and damages, delivered by Nabila Mallick, cases involving children and the application of unreasonableness/unduly harsh tests delivered by Joanne Rothwell, Danny Bazini and Jake Rylatt, the effect of General Data Protection Regulations 2016 on immigration law delivered by Ramby de Mello and a protection claims update delivered by Dr Chelvan.