Leaving Italy to work in the UK: A Brexit Journey
| Francesca Massacci

Leaving Italy to work in the UK: A Brexit Journey

Read Francesca Massacci’s blog about her experience living and working in the UK during the Brexit transition period

Read Francesca Massacci’s blog about her experience living and working in the UK during the Brexit transition period

After leaving Italy and pursuing a career in law in London, I was able to experience the many changes that Brexit brought upon us, as well as transition in a foreign country shaping the life that I always wanted.

I became intrigued with the UK and, particularly, with London when I was 15 years old. I came here for a two week language course and my parents hoped that I would learn some English. What I took back with me was mainly amusement for the grandeur of the big city and the so well maintained old colleges, as well as disappointment because they never had pasta for lunch in the college canteen.

Ten years later, I felt like I had to go back to London as an adult and look at it with different lenses. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship with the Erasmus scheme and came back for six months this time, for a placement/training in restorative practice, focusing on juvenal criminal law. This is when I fell in love with this city and its buzzing, lively, incredible spirit. Regardless of the subject of my training and hearing young people talking about their rough experiences (mainly with rival gangs), I have always felt safe, even when going back home at stupid hours at night. After those six months, I said to myself, “this could be a second home one day”.

And just like that, after graduating and qualifying as a lawyer in Italy, I left the home I had known for the first 30 years of my life and came back to London once again to see what surprises this old friend had for me. She had a few actually. A great job, lovely friends, being part of a samba reggae drumming band (yes, I know, odd) and the opportunity to travel around the UK and beyond to many distant, and yet reachable, destinations.

The impact of Brexit

On 23 June 2016, what I consider the real Brexit day, I was on holiday in Jersey. I woke up the day after to the news of the UK leaving the EU, after 43 years. Me, my friends, the people in Jersey - we were all in shock. We didn’t know if it was reversable, what would entail in practice and how our lives would be impacted.

Back to London a few days after and working for a law firm, you couldn’t escape the subject: it wasn’t just my or my European friend’s personal life impacted, our clients were looking for guidance and support too. Navigating through the different stages, the different negotiations, we were all still hoping this bubble would have exploded and disappeared, taking us all back to a normal European life.

The reality, as we know it now, is very different: the UK has left the EU and a new era has started already. 

As far as my immigration status goes, I was lucky to be supported by my colleagues in the UK team, for both the pre-settled and the settled status applications. Back then, after receiving the emails from the Home Office, I was filled with an enormous sense of achievement. I had remained in a foreign country for so many years, shaping a new and promising life for myself. I felt accepted, integrated in a community that wasn’t the one I grew up in. I was grateful for the opportunities I had and looking forward to stay and become citizen one day.

Today, I am waiting for the Home Office to decide on my citizenship application and naturalise as a UK citizen. I am a still a hard core “European-Italian-Sardinian” though, I hope they won’t mind!

30 June deadline

The deadline to apply for EU Settled Status is fast approaching. For more information, please contact Francesca Massacci at [email protected] or Siobhan Owers at [email protected]. This blog was published on 14 May 2021, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 site, subscribe to our alerts and follow us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.