British expats could be forced to apply for long-term residency visas if they want to live in Europe post-Brexit, Home Office sources have said.The changes, which will form part of the Brexit negotiations, would mean British pensioners who want to retire to Spain or Italy would have to apply for a residency permit and could be forced to prove their income in order to settle.
People who already live abroad are unlikely to be affected by the changes under reciprocal agreements expected to be signed when the UK leaves the union. However, British citizens who are planning to retire to other European countries later in life, such as Spain or Italy, can expect, not only a need for a visa, but also the necessity of proving their income and savings.
Home Office sources indicate, however, things may not end up as drastic. Exceptions may still be made for those who have family within European countries. Added to that, it is expected that new systems may come about that will allow British citizens to travel throughout Europe permanently that will be similar to current systems that are in place for non-EU nationals.
Reportedly, plans for a system have been put into the drawing room over this past weekend have been unveiled. According to reports, British citizens can spend £10 for a visa waiver that will allow them to travel throughout the European Union on holiday. The plan was reportedly based on similar American systems. Sources indicate that France and Germany have shown interest in supporting such a system. Added to that, there have also been reports that the UK may plan a similar agenda towards citizens of the European Union that wish to visit the country. Expats could be forced to demonstrate their income and savings in order to get a residency visa to live in an EU state. There could also be requirements around family links with the country.
The source said: “It is likely there would be a system of long-term permits and residency. We want what is in the best interests of the British people but this will form part of the discussion.” They added that the Home Office will be seeking an “easy and workable system” to ensure that people who want to retire abroad can do so.
Theresa May has promised to seek the best deal for British citizens and it is understood that officials could push for exemptions or looser criteria for UK nationals seeking to move to the EU as part of a negotiated plan.
But the EU Commission’s decision to consider introducing a paid-for visa waiver for UK nationals travelling to the continent has prompted concern about the wider implications for travel across borders after the UK leaves the union.
Over the weekend plans emerged which would force UK nationals travelling to the EU on holiday to pay around £10 for a visa waiver in a scheme similar to the American ESTA system.
The plan has French and German support and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, refused to rule it out, instead hinting that the UK could force a similar scheme on EU nationals in a retaliatory gesture.