Since the 2016 referendum, long Brexit negotiations have seen the many EU citizens currently residing in the United Kingdom worry because of the uncertainty over visa and permit regulations. Of the 9.3 million people who were born abroad and now live in the UK, 39% came from an EU state member.
Brexit may not only affect the right of Europeans to reside and work in the UK but also the regulations between the Kingdom and the Union over leisure travel and business.
The UK has also long been a favorite travel destination for Australians who wish to explore or move to the country, with The Times reporting that over 400,000 Aussies were living there in 2008.
Although there are a variety of visas and permits available to Australians, many decide to take advantage of a double EU nationality to move visa-free. Also, so far UK visas and residence permits have meant freedom of movement within the EU for Australian globetrotters, but things may change in the future.
It is easy to see how Australians may have many questions regarding how Brexit will affect the UK travel and migration landscape for them.
Australians currently in the UK: should they worry about Brexit?
The visa agreement between the UK and Australia should not be affected by the new policies that will be put into place as a result of Brexit.
Australians can travel visa-free to the UK for up to 6 months as long as they do not engage in remunerated activities in the UK job market. Furthermore, they do not have access to UK public funds. In order to work and live in the UK long-term, they need a valid visa.
If you are in the UK on a work permit or ancestry visa, for example, your rights and visa conditions will not change after Brexit is finalized.
However, if you are a close family member (for example a child, parent, or spouse) of an EU national residing in the UK and your status depends on theirs, you both must register with the EU Settlement Scheme in order to continue living in the country. This can be done until June 2021 so there is plenty of time left.
The Scheme is designed so that once Brexit is implemented, European citizens who have migrated to the UK and their families will be able to enjoy the same benefits and rights they have so far, such as access to public healthcare. The Scheme is also intended as a pathway to British citizenship.
Brexit and Australians with double citizenship
A proudly multicultural country, Australia allows its citizens to hold a double nationality. That is why many Aussies who have a European passport decide to use that rather than their Australian one to move to the UK. This way, they can start looking for a job and earn a salary straight away without having to hold a British work visa.
That is very likely to change after Brexit. As the UK is no longer an EU member, many of the immigration perks enjoyed by EU passport holders may be limited or canceled. After the transition period is over, EU citizens (including Australians with a double nationality) may have to apply for work visas and other permits in order to be able to relocate to the UK.
Getting around Europe as an Australian after Brexit
The social landscape of Australians in the UK is varied. Ambitious professionals working in London, Australian families who have moved to the enchanting British countryside, and young people on a gap year abroad are all attracted to the United Kingdom because it has so much to offer.
Those who are used to spending their summer holidays on a stunning European beach and Australian backpackers planning to explore London and the UK as part of their European tour may have to adjust to new visa policies for short-term travel between Britain and the EU.
When the UK was still part of the EU, a British visa granted its holder the same freedom of movement across European states as the one enjoyed by EU citizens. This means that Australians could live and work in Manchester and plan a weekend away in Paris without having to submit paperwork or go through lengthy document checks at the border. Short-term travelers from Australia could apply for just one single visa (if necessary) to explore cities like Berlin, Rome, and London.
Although more information is being provided every day and there is still not a definitive regulation in place, the EU Commission has confirmed that UK citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS registration ad pay a fee before they can enter Europe for leisure.
The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is a new visa waiver program that is being implemented to allow eligible foreigners to travel to the EU for up to 90 days at a time without a visa. By the end of 2022, all nationalities in the ETIAS program will be required to register with the system in order to move freely in and across the EU territory.
Since Australian citizens are eligible for ETIAS, it is likely that once Brexit is finalized and the travel authorization system implemented, they will have to obtain a valid ETIAS in order to spend their holidays in one or more EU countries, regardless of whether they live in the UK or not.
Fortunately, the program is designed to make it quick and easy for Australians and other eligible passport holders to register. It will be possible to complete an ETIAS application online from the comfort of one’s home or office in minutes, without having to apply for a tourist visa.
Australians who hold a British passport or visa and wish to move or travel to the EU for a long period of time will need to apply for a visa that suits their specific circumstances, which will be issued by the authorities of the relevant EU country.