Brexit: Does your business employ EU Nationals?

4 December 2020

As a Brexit deal’s been agreed in principle with the EU, the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK, will remain the same until 30th June 2021. Those EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members already in the UK or coming to the UK before 11pm on 31st December 2020, will be able to take advantage of the ‘Free-to-apply EU Settlement Scheme’. A successful application will allow the employee to live and work in the UK for a temporary five year period or permanently, dependent on their application qualifying criteria. What’s the advantage to the scheme? Well, it’s not only free to apply, but it’s also quite straightforward.

What’s the Free to apply settlement scheme?

This settlement scheme allows current EU citizens in the UK to apply for settlement. They’ll either be granted pre-settled status if they’ve been in the UK for less than 5 years, or they’ll be granted settled status if they’ve been in the UK for 5 or more years. This application must be applied for by the citizen themselves using an online app which is very straight forward to use and should only take 20 minutes to complete. We strongly recommend all employers review their EU workforce and encourage the EU citizens to apply for this status. They’ll have until 30th June 2021 to apply. How does this affect family members? To be classified as a close family member of an EU citizen, you must be either a spouse or civil partner or related to them. The relations accepted under this provision are of a child or grandchild who’s either under the age of 21 years old, or if they are dependent on the EU citizen. Parents and grandparents can also apply if they’re dependent on the EU citizen. Any family member joining the EU citizen after the 31st December 2020, will be subject to different immigrations rules.

We’d also recommend employers review up and coming assignments, and if any EU members are being planned to be relocated to the UK on assignment early next year, try to take advantage of the EU settlement scheme which is free and see if this can be brought forward before the end of this year.

Are you looking to employ new EU Nationals next year?

From 1st January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system, providing the ability for employers to recruit from outside of the settled workforce through becoming a registered sponsor.

Employers will need this  licence if they want to recruit EU and non-EU citizens under most of the work routes, although some applicants will qualify under the non-sponsored routes in their own right. Employers without a current sponsor licence in place need to apply now so they’re in place before 1st January 2021. Due to COVID-19, and the significant increase in applications over recent weeks, backlogs of applications are causing delays in processing. We’d therefore encourage employers to submit their sponsor licence applications at the earliest point to avoid any continuity issues as the new immigration system comes into force. Any current Tier 2 sponsorship licences will automatically convert to a new licence under the new skilled worker immigration route. This process is neither straightforward nor free, so, if you’re thinking of applying, you should contact us to see if we can help or, alternatively, in more complex cases, refer you to experts in this field.

Do you currently employ UK people abroad or will you be doing so from 1st January next year?

Most countries have a reciprocal arrangement similar to the above that your employees will need to deal with. There are differences in this from country to country and we’re working with market leading experts in this complex and rapidly changing field who have substantial experience in the field of global mobility, if you’d like an introduction so you can review your position, then please contact us and ask.

The 31st December may seem like a while away, and a challenge to consider in the near future. However, with delayed processing times for licences, now’s the time to act – don’t delay what you can do today, and contact us.