Last month the Home Office published Media factsheet: EU citizens and freedom of movement to clarify the rights of EU citizens post Brexit. The Government has also confirmed that in a "no deal" scenario the rights of EU nationals will be as follows:
- To apply for either pre-settled or settled status under the EU settlement scheme, EU nationals will need to be resident in the UK before 31 October 2019
- Those individuals will have until 31 December 2020 to make the relevant applications under the EU settlement scheme should they wish to remain in the UK
- This involves a simply online process and requires an individual to complete three key steps: prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions
- For EU citizens arriving after 31 October 2019, they will be able to enter the UK without restriction and there will be a transition period until 31 December 2020
- During the transition period, those EU citizens will be able to live and work freely in the UK. They will also be able to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR), which is a voluntary online registration scheme. This will enable those individuals to remain in the UK for up to three years, after which point they will need to apply for immigration permission under the new UK immigration rules
- Individuals will be able to use their time spent on Euro TLR for settlement once they have applied for a visa under the new immigration system
- From 1 January 2021, the new UK immigration system will be implemented. EU nationals who wish to live, work and/or study in the UK after 1 January 2021 will need to obtain immigration permission and apply for a visa under the new immigration rules
- There is still uncertainty as what the new immigration system will look like. However, the Government has recently confirmed that it will be based on a new Australian-style points based immigration system
- For employers, right to work checks will remain the same until 31 December 2020 and EU nationals can provide either their passport or a national identify card. From 1 January 2021, employers will be required to carry out more extensive right to works checks, which will involve checking an EU national's immigration status under the new immigration system.
The key message for employers is to ensure that their EU workforce is aware of the EU settlement scheme and to encourage them to apply for either pre-settled or settled status if they wish to remain in the UK. Employers should also try to reassure their EU workforce that their rights will be protected and to address any concerns that they may have. It would also be sensible for employers to consider bringing forward any new recruitment start dates before 31 October 2019 so that those individuals can apply for status under the EU settlement scheme.