British expats in the European Union have no reason to worry about their rights as a result of the Brexit referendum, according to a government statement.
The Home Office has confirmed that nothing has changed for British expats in Europe nor EU expats in the UK as a result of the leave vote.
The statement also explains that Britain remains a member of the EU until Article 50 negotiations are completed.
“When we do leave the EU, we fully expect that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK – and that of UK nationals in EU member states – will be properly protected,” said a Home Office spokesman.
“The government recognises and values the important contribution made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK.”
Expat status explained in detail
The statement goes on to explain the rights of EU expats in the UK.
Those who have lived in Britain for more than five years have an automatic right to live in the UK, says the statement, while those who have lived in the country for at least six years can apply for British citizenship if they wish.
EU expats who have lived in Britain for less than five years still have the same freedom of movement as before the Brexit vote, although they may need permissions and documentation for non-EU family members or extended family relatives.
Irish expats still have the extra rights afforded by the Ireland Act 1949.
Croatian expats may also need extra permissions as the newest member of the EU.
EU nationals don’t have to leave UK
“There has been no change to the right of EU nationals to reside in the UK and therefore no change to the circumstances in which someone could be removed from the UK,” said the spokesman.
“As was the case before the referendum, EU nationals can only be removed from the UK if they are considered to pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to the public, if they are not lawfully resident or are abusing their free movement rights.”
The statement follows pressure from expats and businesses to confirm their status in Britain following the referendum, and to allay their fears about losing the right to live, work or study in the UK.
The Home Office also stated that the same confirmation should be given to UK expats in the EU.