Employing EU citizens after Brexit - deal or no deal and beyond

This brief article sets out what employer’s need to know with regard to employing EU citizens post Brexit, both in the case where we exit on the  terms of the current Withdrawal Agreement and in the case of a no deal Brexit. It also looks at the government’s plans to reform the immigration system, for EU and non-EU nationals from 2021.

If the currently proposed Withdrawal Agreement is in place, freedom of movement remains during the ‘implementation period’, that is until 31st December 2020.

During the Implementation Period EU citizens will continue to be able to work, study and establish a business in the UK as now and access healthcare, pensions and other benefits and services in the UK.

However, EU citizens living lawfully in the UK before the end of the Implementation period and who wish to remain, must make an application under a system known as the  EU Settlement Scheme . The Scheme will open fully by 30 March 2019 and the deadline for applying is 30th June 2021.  The cost for an application is £65 for an adult.

‘Settled status’ will be given to EU citizens who have been living in the UK continuously for five years . Those who arrive before the end of the Implementation Period, but who have not been here for five years, will be eligible for ‘pre-settled status’, enabling them to stay until they have accumulated five years, after which they can apply for settled status. Settled status gives a right to work as well as access to public funds etc.

If we Brexit without a deal

Fundamentally this means that there would be no implementation period and in December 2018 the government sought to address concerns by issuing a Policy paper on citizens' rights in the event of a no deal Brexit

Essentially the UK will continue to run the EU Settlement Scheme for that resident in the UK by 29 March 2019, but  they will only have until 31 December 2020 to apply for settled status under the scheme. Until that time, they will be able  to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK as they do now.

New immigration system proposed from 2021,

In December 2018, the  government published a White Paper setting out key provisions for 2021 and beyond whereby, from 2021, the same UK immigration rules will apply to all migrants, whether from the EU or elsewhere. Proposals include

·      Introducing a single, uncapped route which gives access to highly skilled and skilled workers from all countries.

·      Such workers will need an employer to sponsor them, but employers will no longer be required to carry out a resident labour market test as a condition of sponsorship.

·      The aim will be for the sponsorship system to be as straightforward and light touch as possible, and to process the great majority of work visas within two to three weeks.

·      There will be a minimum salary threshold for skilled labour to qualify for sponsorship and the  government will engage businesses and employers as to what that should be, but the White Paper refers to the recommendation made by The Migration Advisory Committee in September 2018 that the minimum salary threshold be retained at £30,000

·      There will be no separate scheme for unskilled labour but a transitional arrangement will be put in place allowing for 12-month visas for workers from specified countries for which there will be no specific sponsorship requirement but also no right to access public funds or bring dependents.

Posted on 9 January, 2019 by Ortolan

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