With the possible exit from the EU set to be decided in June this year, many are worried about how an ‘out’ vote could impact their lives. A group that will be particularly affected by such a decision are expatriates who have moved abroad within the EU.
For those that have left the UK and made a life for themselves elsewhere in the EU, Brexit could leave them in a tricky situation. According to the United Nations, approximately 1.3 million Brits currently live in Europe, with around 319,000 living in Spain. Under EU law, British expats have been able to move abroad without the need for visas or dual citizenships. The Brexit would leave these expats in an uncertain situation, as they could be forced to return to the UK or could simply have luxuries they have taken for granted, like free healthcare, taken away from them.
Retirement abroad could become more difficult
A large number of British expats are retired. Current retirees who have already settled abroad may not suffer too many consequences, but things could be very different for those yet to leave Britain, perhaps because they are still a handful of years away from their retirement date.
Research shows that two in five wealthy Brits plan to retire abroad – with the most popular destinations being France and Spain. However, a Brexit out vote would mean that those who have not yet made their move could lose their freedom to do so, and may need to consider applying for a visa or dual citizenship.
Indeed, if Britons leave the EU, they face losing their visa-free travel to Europe, which, for the most part, has a common visa-free policy under the Schengen agreement. This is on top of the risk of leaving the EU’s single market.
The Caribbean provides an alternative retirement option
With the doors of Europe potentially being closed to the Brits, elderly expats – or those looking to retire abroad in the near future – should consider looking further afield for a sunny retirement. Caribbean countries like the Commonwealth of Dominica, for example, offer citizenship by investment programmes that entitle you to citizenship in three months.
With Dominican citizenship, you can live in a paradise-island known for its lush nature and easygoing way of life. And, importantly for those who have their heart set on Europe, as a Dominican citizen you can also travel visa-free to the EU, partly because the country recently signed an agreement with the Schengen Area member states.
By considering citizenship in Dominica, or in one of the other Caribbean nations offering citizenship by investment programmes, retirees could continue to avoid the hassle of visas. Visas can be a nuisance as they can include long application forms, such as Canada’s which is notoriously complex, long processing times (a visa for America can take between 3-6 weeks to process), and significant expenditure – a visa for India costs over £100 for UK citizens. Having to apply for a visa to travel everywhere can be time-consuming, inconvenient, and can make you feel unwelcome.
Without needing to apply for a visa, travelling remains an easy and enjoyable experience. When your citizenship allows you to travel visa-free to a wide array of nations, you can also develop a true sense of global citizenship. If you become a citizen of the tri-island nation of Grenada, for example, you can travel without visa restrictions to more than 115 countries, including China, Hong Kong, and all member states of the EU. This would mean that Brits with a Grenadian passport would not need to worry about the effects of the Brexit on their ability to travel, and could enjoy their retirement without a worry in a warm, sun-drenched, Caribbean isle.