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STATUS-CONSCIOUS EU migrants in Britain fear they won’t be allowed to stay if the country votes to leave the union


ALFIO EMANUELE FRESTA, a 21-year-old student at England’s University of York, came to the U.K. from Sicily in 2013, hoping to build a life in a country he thought of as welcoming, diverse and filled with opportunities in his chosen discipline: computer science. “I wasn’t aware of a referendum. I wasn’t aware of the possibility of a referendum,” he says. “From what I knew at the time, EU nationals were treated equally everywhere in the EU, equally to British citizens in Britain. I quickly found out that this isn’t always the case.”

As Britain prepares for a referendum on its membership in the European Union on June 23, Fresta is one of about 3 million EU migrants living in the U.K. At present, the EU’s freedom of movement rules ensure his right to remain in the U.K., as well as his right to a student loan to pay tuition fees. But nobody is entirely sure what will happen to him if Britain votes to leave. He is unable to vote in the poll—Parliament in 2015 decided to restrict that right to British citizens, U.K. residents from the Commonwealth and a select few other nationalities.

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