BREXIT: EU Citizens in the UK – Changes from 01-01-2021
Since 1st January 2021, free movement in and out of the UK came to an end and EU nationals (apart from Irish nationals who are subject to different rules) wishing to work in the UK are subject to the same visa requirements as their non-EU counterparts. Therefore, from 1st January 2021, anyone entering the UK with a view to work must hold a valid visa to be able to work, otherwise they should not be working.
The UK now has a points based immigration system and to live and work in the UK specific requirements must be met. For example, you must earn over a certain amount and have sufficient command of the English language.
What does this mean for employees and contractors?
If any EU nationals (and their family members) took up residence in the UK by 31 December 2020, they will have the option to apply for Settled or Pre-Settled Status, under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for applications under the Scheme is 30 June 2021, but the individual must have established residency in the UK by 31 December 2020.
Individuals who apply for (and successfully obtain) Settled or Pre-Settled Status will be able continue living and working in the UK. Broadly speaking, obtaining Settled or Pre-Settled Status preserves the individual’s existing free movement rights, meaning that they will not need to obtain a visa under the new immigration regime which came into force on 1st January 2021.
This is an important consideration for any EU nationals, if such individuals successfully obtain Settled or Pre-Settled Status then they will be able to continue to work as they did work before. However, if they are ineligible or they miss the relevant deadline, they will become undocumented migrants and could face deportation/removal from the UK. They will no longer have the right to work in the UK.
If you were based in the UK prior to 1st January 2021, you will retain the right to be able to live and work here but will need to apply to the EUSS to demonstrate these rights.
“Pre-settled” or “settled” status will be given to eligible applicants who provide evidence that they resided in the UK prior to the end of the Brexit transition period and have a right to live and work in the UK. Those with settled status may also be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
EU nationals who already hold evidence of their status, for example a registration certificate or permanent residence card, also need to make an application under the EU settlement scheme to convert their status.
Eligible employees have until the 30 June 2021 to apply under the EUSS (although we do encourage you to apply in plenty of time due to the high number of applications currently being processed).
Therefore registration remains an important step towards you retaining the benefits afforded to you as a resident of the UK. In future, evidence of your status is likely to be important if you are, for example, changing jobs, agreeing a tenancy or opening a bank account.