Following the referendum vote in June 2016, the deadline set for triggering Article 50 has fast approached. Theresa May said last week that her government is still on track to trigger the famous article, despite grumblings within the House Of Lords around specifics. With Britain on the verge of triggering such a historic event, we look at what Article 50 is, and how the process is likely to play out.

Once the House of Commons and the House Of Lords approve the government’s Brexit bill by a majority vote from each house, Theresa May will then take the bill to Queen Elizabeth to gain hey royal approval. The final step is more of a formality, but it is still an essential part of the process.

How is article 50 triggered?

As Britain is the first country to seek to leave the EU, the actual process of triggering article 50 still remains largely a mystery. Downing Street must inform Donald Tusk, the European Council President, that Britain wishes to leave the EU. Some have speculated that this could be done in a method as simple as an email.

What will happen next?

Before negotiations can start, each EY state will have to agree to the negotiating guidelines. Tusk has indicated that following notification from Britain, the other 27 member states would need time to draft negotiation guidelines. Each country will have different priorities, either concerning trade or freedom of movement for their citizens, so this could take some time.

When will negotiations take place?

Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty gives the departing state two years to negotiate the terms of their exit from the bloc. As there are so many key elections taking place throughout Europe, it is thought that negotiations will get started following the French presidential election, which runs from 23 April until the start of May. This means there will be less time for negotiations, as Article 50 only allows 24 months to reach an agreement on the terms. This can only be extended if all member states agree to an extension.

What happens to EU nationals in the UK?

Until the process is finished, there will be no immediate change to the rights of EU citizens within the UK. While MPs and Peers have failed to secure the rights of EU citizens through an amendment to the bill, it is encouraging to learn that May has indicated she would like to see an “early agreement” to secure those rights.

If you are concerned about your position in the UK and would like to talk to a trusted immigration advisor, get in touch with your nearest IAS office to find out how we can help you.