EU and EEA Workers Post-Brexit

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Your questions, answered by Odin HR Consultancy

1. We employ EU nationals. What is changing, and when?

The new Immigration Act means that the free movement (the right to work and live in the UK) of EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals will end at 11pm on December 31st, 2020. Non-UK nationals wanting to enter the UK and work after that date will need to apply in advance and satisfy a new points-based immigration system to be awarded a visa.

EU citizens and their family members already in the UK who wish to continue living here will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to remain legally resident. https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status . Although the deadline for applying is June 30th, 2021, EU nationals who cannot prove that they arrived in the UK before December 31st, 2020, will require sponsorship under the new points-based system. Therefore, those EU nationals already in the UK would be wise to apply before December 31st.

2. What happens next?

Depending on how long they’ve been living in the UK, EU nationals applying to the EU Settlement Scheme will be given either “settled status” or “pre-settled status”.

To obtain settled status, they must have started living in the UK by December 31st, 2020 and have been here for a continuous five-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’). Continuous residence means that they must have been in the UK for at least six months in any twelve-month period for five years (with a small number of exceptions).
Pre-settled status is awarded for five years to EU nationals who do not already have five years’ continuous residence when they apply, provided that they started living in the UK by December 31st, 2021. Once they have five years’ continuous residence, they can apply to change to settled status but must do so before the expiry of their mpre-settled status.

3. Should I ask for evidence from my employees before June 2021 that they have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme?

No. Until the end of that period, employer ‘Right to Work’ checks will remain as they are currently – EU nationals will be able to show their passports/ID cards to confirm their right to work in the UK. But after June 30th, 2021, you will need to check that your EU/EEA employees have pre-settled or settled status to confirm that they have the right to work in the UK, and therefore that they are working legally for you.

4. Does this apply to people from the Republic of Ireland?

No. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK.

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