What is the change? British voters head to the polls Thursday to vote on whether to “Leave” or “Remain” in the European Union.

What does the change mean? If the “Leave” campaign prevails, U.K. immigration policy will change and employers that rely on U.K. nationals working in Europe and European nationals in the U.K. will need to manage expectations immediately after the vote and strategize for potential disruption in the long term.

  • Implementation time frame: If Britain exits the EU, a deal must be negotiated which is likely to take at least two years. During this transition period, the U.K. must continue to observe EU treaties and laws.
  • Who is affected: K. companies and European companies recruiting, hiring or assigning workers between Britain and the rest of Europe, and anyone using a European route to stay in the U.K. (including EU nationals and their family members) will be affected. However, all visas and permits, including sponsorship under the Points-Based System (Tier 1 high-skilled, Tier 2 skilled workers, Tier 4 students and Tier 5 temporary workers)could also be affected in the long term.
  • Business impact: Companies will need toassess their workforce to determine the level of impact on their business and review their recruitment practices to plan for affected employees beyond the two-year transition period. A “Leave” vote would likely bring new restrictions and additional processing, and businesses should plan for increased immigration costs.
  • Next steps: BAL has produced a backgrounder to explain the Brexit landscape, the four possible contingencies should Britain leave the EU, and how employers can address affected employees and strategize for long-term changes in U.K.-EU immigration policy.  

Background: The Brexit referendum is the culmination of long simmering political pressure by Eurosceptics. Immigration and the free movement of migrants, which come with EU membership, are at the heart of the debate and, as such, if Britain leaves the EU, more restrictive immigration measures will be introduced.

BAL Analysis: In the event of a “Leave” win, it is critical that employers immediately address their workforce and begin contingency planning as early as possible. Please click here to read BAL’s detailed analysis.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact