lunes, 20 de febrero de 2017

BREXIT AND UK NATIONALS IN SPAIN (3): THE RIGHT OF ABODE

At present, the entire population of UK residents in Spain is entitled to live here as EU citizens under EU law (Directive 2004/38) and they presently constitute a homogeneous whole. However, this will disappear once Brexit kicks in unless the current status quo is maintained.

UK expats would subdivide into these groups:
a) Those who arrived before or after Spain joined the EU, who registered as EU residents and who have renewed their registration after five years.
b) Those who have registered as EU residents but who will not have lived here for the full five years when Brexit becomes effective.
c) Those who have lived here without registering as EU residents.

At the moment, there is no clarity as to whether all residents will be treated in the same way or, if differentiation between the categories is applied, what conditions might be applied for continued residence in Spain to the members of each category.
 

Many long-term residents may be able to rely on Council Directive 2003/109 post Brexit, which would allow them to apply for a right of “long-term residence” as non-EU nationals. However, unlike the right of permanent residence granted to EU citizens, which is automatic after living legally and continuously in a EU country for five years, there are conditions attached to this application.  In addition to proving five years’ residence, they must be able to prove that they have “stable and regular economic resources” to support themselves and their families without recourse to social assistance and health insurance in respect of all risks normally covered for nationals of the EU country where they reside. Moreover, there may be integration requirements attached e.g. language and other requirements.  Finally, the rights attached to this right of residence are far more limited than those acquired by EU citizens with permanent residence.
 

In summary, no member of the UK community in Spain feels that they have any certain guarantee to remain in Spain once the UK is no longer a member of the European Union.
Some UK citizens may be in a position to apply for Spanish citizenship (fulfilling conditions specified by the Spanish government such as 10 years residence). Although in Spain dual UK/Spanish nationality is not allowed, in practice it is possible to hold both passports and to actually lose your UK passport you need to go through a complex process.
However, many UK citizens are proud of their origins and would not want to give up the citizenship of their birth or risk problems in the future.

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