Brexit – Immigration Update
Brexit continues to cause uncertainty and confusion for European citizens and their families in the UK. As Brexit approaches on 29 March 2019, European workers in the UK are increasingly looking to their employers to inform, reassure and support them. Engaging with workers about Brexit planning is one way for employers to support valued colleagues and to reduce the risk of losing key people, and we are helping our clients with this planning and communication. Click here to find out more.
In the meantime an update on the practical steps employers can take in relation to EU Settlement applications, information on a No Deal scenario, and steps that can be taken to reassure and support your staff are detailed below:
Settlement Scheme goes live
EU nationals in the UK will need to make an application to register their status before the end of the planned Brexit transitional period on 31 December 2020. This registration will be under UK law and is not an automatic process. An EU national’s ability to live and work in the UK will not be protected unless they make this application.
The Scheme entered a public test phase on 21 January 2019 and will be rolled out fully around 29 March 2019.
The Scheme will have two application types:
- Pre-settled Status – This will provide limited leave to remain until an individual has reached the 5-year mark required for settlement. It is a form of temporary residence permit that will allow EU nationals to continue to live and work in the UK.
- Settled Status – This will provide indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if the EU national can demonstrate continuous residence in the UK for five years. This was previously known as Permanent Residence (PR) under EU law.
Successful candidates will be granted evidence of their status “in digital form”. No physical documents will be issued. Non-EU family members will continue to be issued with plastic credit card sized, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards.
“No Deal” Scenario
If a “No Deal” Brexit does occur, free movement of workers will end on 29th March 2019 at 11pm.
The Government has outlined that the EU Settlement Scheme (see above) will still continue as normal in a no deal scenario, but only for EU nationals resident in the UK before 29 March 2019. This will essentially create a new cohort of EU nationals who arrive between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020. These EU nationals will be:
- Allowed to enter the UK for up to 3 months at which time they can work and study.
- If they wish to stay longer than 3 months they will need to apply for a European Temporary Leave to Remain. This should be an online application but the rest of the details are yet to be determined.
- The time spent in the UK will not lead to settlement.
- They will be required to apply for a new visa under the new Immigration System due to come into place 1 January 2021.
Brexit – How can you continue to attract and retain the best talent?
With 11pm on 29 March 2019 (BREXIT Day!) rapidly approaching, the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU 27 countries and the UK is yet to be signed-off by the UK Parliament. There are still a large number of UK politicians that will not accept the deal on offer. The uncertainty is set to continue and businesses in the UK, especially in the healthcare, hospitality, retail and construction sectors, that rely heavily on the free movement of EU workers have been left in a Brexit limbo.
The saying “if it was not for the last minute, nothing would get done” springs to mind… it is in the interests of both the EU and the UK to come to some sort of compromise, hopefully a deal will be done! However, in the meantime what can businesses be doing? During times of great uncertainty, we recommend a 5-step approach.