How Will Brexit Affect Brits Abroad?

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As chaos ensues within the UK Parliament, it remains far from certain what the final Brexit outcome will be. However, with no deal a very real possibility, and Prime Minister Theresa May unwilling to accept freedom of movement, Brexit is set to have a huge impact upon British people wanting to live, work and study within the European Union. Whilst European citizens in the UK have been at the centre of the debate, not much thought has been given towards people who exercise their freedom to move in the other direction.

Theresa May has repeatedly said that the UK will no longer be part of the European Union’s freedom of movement, and that will not only affect people coming to the UK, but also the thousands of people who want to live elsewhere in Europe. The longer queues at passport control may be an inconvenience, but the complex and potentially costly process of applying for visas is likely to make life a lot more difficult for those wanting to move to EU member states, and they will naturally not have the automatic right to stay in those countries any longer. They will be affected by any changes to immigration policy in the respective country, without the security afforded to them by EU citizenship.

One key group of people who may well be affected are students at UK universities hoping to take part in the European Union’s Erasmus scheme, which provides funding for students to work, volunteer or study abroad during their degree. The UK may be able to negotiate a deal to stay part of the scheme, providing it hasn’t destroyed all goodwill between itself and the rest of the EU by then! If not then an alternative agreement may replace it, similar to the one Switzerland is party to, though the terms of that would be up for negotiation. And that’s before even considering the question of the visas students would presumably need as a citizen of a country outside the European Economic Area.

Of course, all that could become immaterial if the UK somehow reverses the decision to leave, potentially through a remain vote in a second referendum. Whilst this may seem unlikely, the unpredictable nature of the UK’s politics in the last few years should make people reluctant to rule out anything completely. The only certainty is that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is not going to go away any time soon!

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