With the UK not yet having triggered Article 50, and there being enough potential issues (legal and political) that it looks like nothing may happen before the Autumn at the earliest, most likely it'll be quite some time until rules on EU citizens already living in the UK become clear. Understandably, that's causing worry here and elsewhere due to the uncertainty, many of my EU friends included!


While we wait for news of any new rules, what about the existing ones?

Firstly, UK citizenship and passport - how long would an EU citizen have to have been living and working in the UK to be able to apply, and what's the process they'd need to follow?

Otherwise, for EU citizens who've been living and working in the UK for a number of years, who don't want to get a UK passport (eg because they'd then have to give up their other one), are there any other permanent statuses they could get to safeguard / cement their rights to live in the UK? And if so, what and how?

  • Meta post on this question and brexit
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 27, 2016 at 11:58
  • 1
    I think the only sure way for EU citizens living in the UK would be if they could get ILR, but I'm not sure if that's possible for an EU citizen, as they're entitled to a PR instead. Of course it is highly likely that a PR will be converted to an ILR once the Brexit happens, but that's still speculation (for example they could add a rule that a PR is only converted to an ILR if the applicant meets some kind of salary requirements meaning no sure way of someone to fix their residency status at this stage)
    – SztupY
    Jun 27, 2016 at 12:06
  • Also, marrying a UK citizen might not be enough as well, considering the quite strict rules here as well.
    – SztupY
    Jun 27, 2016 at 12:08
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    @SztupY I might be wrong on this but I think it could be possible to naturalise faster (after 3 years of residency) if you marry a British citizen?
    – kiradotee
    Jun 27, 2016 at 19:23
  • @kiradotee naturalisation is simpler, given you can actually remain in the country for enough time
    – SztupY
    Jun 27, 2016 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


Until we know more of the new laws and regulations there is at the moment one and only one sure way of an EU citizen to remain in the UK after Brexit, which is naturalising as a citizen. For this they need to live in the UK lawfully for 6 years (5 years to obtain Permanent Residence, and one more year in PR status to be eligible for naturalisation).

Although the question specifies that naturalisation might not be an option, unfortunately all the other statuses an EU citizen can obtain, especially Permanent Residence is tied to EU citizens, meaning it's legal status might change after a Brexit. EU citizens also cannot apply for an ILR. Of course it is highly likely that the Permanent Residence status an EU citizen obtains after 5 years of being resident in the UK will convert to an ILR status (or something similar) once Brexit happens, but it is still unknown whether this will be the case, and if yes, whether it will be automatic or tied to some specific extra rules (like minimum salary requirements, life-in-the-uk tests, etc.)

There is one exception though: if an EU citizen is living in the country for 10 years, then in case of a Brexit, even without any other legal status (if for example their PR will be invalidated), they could still settle and obtain an ILR.

  • In paragraph 2 you say "EU citizens also cannot apply for an ILR", then in paragraph 3 you say "they can settle and obtain an ILR" - could you clarify the confusion?
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 27, 2016 at 12:24
  • I meant once the PR status is void in case of a Brexit
    – SztupY
    Jun 27, 2016 at 12:26
  • 3
    You can't apply for ILR status if you have the legal right of abode anyway. So UK citizens can never apply, EU citizens cannot currently apply because currently it would be pointless.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 27, 2016 at 12:54

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