Now that the EU has granted the UK an extension till October 31st, my wife and I have some breathing room to plan our anticipated move in early September to the Minho (Northern) region of Portugal. I hold a US passport, as well as an EU/UK one. My wife has only Yankee travel papers.
Here are three scenarios that we are keeping in mind for this move:
1. Brexit Happens on Oct 31st
It will remain uncertain between now and October 31st what will happen with British politics. There may suddenly be a Brexit agreement; there may not. There may be a referendum; there may not. It is all up in the air, but it looks like Labor + some conservative MPs might band together to insist that any agreement must include a referendum confirmation; that event would probably end up with the cancellation of Brexit, given that 60% of the UK public is now against it.
Whether this is good for England or not is selfishly moot from my perspective; what I want to be able to do is enter Portugal on my EU passport, then make a beeline to Viana do Costello, If we like it there, I might rent a place for a year, then immediately apply for residency.
Once I/we get that, I would return to the US (briefly), and we would close the B&M aspect of the retail store we run in Florida by December, then return to Portugal in January. This would give my wife time to apply for a D7 visa.
2. Brexit happens before Oct 31st
If in the next few weeks or months. the UK right wing (Tories + UKIP) forces May out, and/or engineer a hard Brexit, or if there is a soft Brexit or customs union agreement that does not include a transitional period element (where everything stays the same for 2 years), then we will still go in September, but on our American passports only, check out the Minho region, then return to Florida, and go through with the Portuguese consulate here what needs to be done in terms of obtaining a D7, or non habitual residency visa (this now would be for my wife and I) in Portugal.
3. Brexit is canceled or delayed beyond Oct 31st
If Brexit is canceled or yet again delayed, as a result of a new referendum, then all my problems are solved (though my wife would still have to go through the hassle of a D7), and we go in September, and see and do what we feel like doing at a more reasonable and leisurely pace, without any pressure to return within 90 days or get passports stamped, or worry about expat health insurance plans or proof of income.
My wife would still have to leave after 3 months, but things will be much easier if I can establish residency before October 31st (which could be extended if a confirmation referendum blows the 2016 one out of the water) then come and go to Schengen at will.
In Scenarios 1 and 3, we would fly from JFK to LGW on American passports. Then we would change to a low cost flight to Porto, but I would use my British passport, with my wife still on her US one. This would be a perfectly legal to manage the tricky go and stay in Portugal longer than 3 months out of every six on an EU passport and / or residency visa, yet return to the US using an American passport.
I’m no fan of hedge funders, yet this plan feel like a married put (if you will forgive the pun), which gives me confidence that in the end this move happens — irrespective of how sinking Brexit turns out.