Brexit: Non-Scots '˜beat a path' to lawyers to stay in country
EUROPEANS in Scotland have begun consulting lawyers to increase their chances of remaining in the country after Brexit.
Immigration law specialist Jamie Kerr, of Dundee-based law firm Thorntons, said European nationals have been “beating a path to his door” in the aftermath of the referendum.
Mr Kerr first warned European nationals living in Scotland two years ago to register with the Home Office as it begun to emerge that many Britons wanted freedom from Europe.
Now that Britain has made the decision to leave the EU, he said European nationals need to apply for a residence card to ensure they are protected, and should do this “as a matter of urgency” and not rely on assurances from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
He said: “First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sent out the message that Europeans are welcome here but it’s not in her hands.
“Some Europeans are listening to the Scottish Government and asking why they would want to get a British passport when they won’t be asked to leave.
“The reality is that they might well be -- we just do not know.”
Mr Kerr, one of only a few solicitors accredited as a specialist in immigration law by the Law Society of Scotland, said the situation was “very worrying”.
He said: “As the UK voted to leave the EU, all Europeans who are here lawfully under free movement laws will face doubts over their right to remain.
“To avoid these uncertainties, I would strongly encourage all European nationals to apply for a British passport, as many will be eligible for British nationality but would previously have not considered or required it.
“I initially warned European nationals living in Scotland to register two years ago. It was just after our own referendum and we realised a Brexit vote could come pretty close.
“There are a significant number of Europeans who are eligible but have never had a reason to register with the Home Office.
“People should be doing this now as a matter of urgency. We have been inundated with queries from Europeans asking for advice -- our first query was at 7am on the Friday of the Brexit vote.”
Mr Kerr has urged EU nationals to apply now to avoid potential “chaos” which could happen once the new prime minister itriggers Article 50.
He said: “Just say they take the line that people who are already here will be able to stay -- well, how do they know who is already here?
“EU nationals usually arrive in the UK with no stamp on their passport or a visa and would have to produce bank statements and payslips to prove how long they have been here. Given the number of Europeans living in the UK that is going to be chaos.”
Junior Home Office minister James Brokenshire said this week that the UK Government could only reassure EU nationals they could remain in Britain for now, and that their status in coming years was a matter for a new prime minister.
There are an estimated three million non-British EU citizens living in the UK, including nationals from all European countries.