What a year 2016 is turning out to be. By now all of us will have absorbed the impact of the June referendum, and while the rest of the country is picking itself up and planning the future, those of us who are foreign nationals are rightly wondering whether those future plans include us.

While there is no need to panic just yet, the facts are sobering. With Britain’s purported withdrawal from the European Union, all of us stand to be affected on both a personal and a professional level. For some of us, living here on European passports, the question of whether we will be asked to leave hangs in the air. Those nationals of non-EU countries here on Tier 2 work visas now face the stressful hurdle of having to prove you earn over £35,000 once you’ve been here for five years, or face deportation, further to the new legislation that came in April 2016. For all of us, no matter what our nationality, there are the worrying knock-on effects on the entertainment industry to consider. Work may reduce or dry up; film and advertising agencies may flee to friendlier climes; projects looking for English speakers may turn to the Netherlands or South Africa or even simply stay in Canada or the United States.

The simple answer is, no one knows for sure how things will look farther down the line. In the short-term, however, there are some helpful steps that can be taken.

  • Apply for Permanent Residence

If you are an EU national and have been here for five years or more, you have the right to apply for Permanent Residence, which gives you the status of being able to live and work in Britain permanently without being a citizen. As an EU national, up until now, you automatically received Indefinite Leave to Remain without having to apply. Permanent Residency is something you do apply for, and gives you a physical stamp or other proof of your status; it is also a required step if you wish to eventually apply for British citizenship. Do be aware, though, that the process can take up to six months.


  • Contact Equity

The union is working hard on behalf of foreign national members living and working in the UK. If you feel your work has been affected in any way – whether you have been asked to step down from a project because of your nationality or even if you believe a project has been cancelled or postponed as a result of Brexit – do contact the union to let them know. They are also an excellent source of advice and resources, if you are feeling concerned in any way.


  • Consider the Silver Lining

In some respects, there could possibly end up being advantages for the AAUK membership. Everyone here has obtained legal working papers, whether through UK or EU membership or other routes, and thus suddenly, we may turn into an even more valuable commodity than we already are, with our ability to work in different territories, particularly those of us with EU passports.

In addition, the weaker pound might be attractive to American and Canadian film studios and games companies wishing to work over here – and that could lead to more roles for us, the resident American-speaking population.

We are definitely living in interesting times. However, as we have all witnessed, events can turn quickly and we may find that within several months’ time, life has settled back to something resembling normality. The best thing to do for now is make sure all your papers are in order, have a contingency plan, speak to experts if you want advice or reassurance, and then carry on working in this amazing, complex industry as normal. After all, the best creations are often borne from a mingling of experiences, cultures, and backgrounds; let's continue to prove to this sometimes dubious country just how much passion, energy, and talent we foreign nationals can bring.