Current and predicted immigration challenges for foreign nationals working and living in the UK in light of Brexit
The “Brexit” referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) took place on 23 June 2016. The UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020 and became a third country to the EU. On 1 February 2020, a transition period started which is due to end on 31 December 2020.
Under the terms of the Brexit deal, freedom to move and live within the EU and UK will continue during a planned transition period until the end of 31 December 2020.
The rights and status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members living in the UK will remain the same until 30 June 2021.
How can the EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members secure their UK immigration status?
The EU Settlement Scheme provides a basis for UK resident EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members to apply for the UK immigration status required to be able to continue living and working in the UK beyond the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. Applicants must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 to be eligible to apply and the deadline for applying is 30 June 2021 – six months after the end of the transition period.
If applicants have lived in the UK continuously for five years by the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) then they will be granted “settled” status and will able to continue to reside and work in the UK permanently. This right can only be lost by leaving the UK for a period of more than five years, or four years for Swiss nationals.
If by the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) applicants have not lived in the UK for five years, then they will be granted “pre-settled” status and can stay in the UK for a further five years from the date this status is granted. They will be able to acquire the right to permanent residency once they have completed five years of continuous residence in the UK.
How will UK working rights be affected?
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who make a successful application under the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June 2021 deadline will continue to have the same working rights in the UK as at present, whether as employed or self-employed.
If UK resident EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members do not make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, they will need to apply under the new future skills-based immigration system if they wish to stay and work in the UK after 30 June 2021.
The new future skills-based immigration system will apply to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members arriving in the UK on or after 1 January 2021.
Who can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens or a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen can apply. ‘Family members’ are defined as spouses, civil partners, children under 21, dependent children over 21 or the dependent parent of the EU, EEA or Swiss citizen or their partner.
Unmarried partners who have been in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years and other dependent relatives of the EU, EEA or Swiss citizen or their partner must first have a relevant document which was issued by the UK under the EEA Regulations to be eligible to apply.
Do Irish citizens and their family members need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
Irish citizens enjoy a right of residence in the UK that is not reliant on the UK’s membership of the EU. This means that Irish citizens do not need to apply for status under the scheme.
Their family members (who are not Irish citizens or British citizens and who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK) will need to make an application for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
What will be the future UK immigration system as from 1 January 2021?
It was announced on 19 February 2020 that the UK will launch a new points-based immigration system as from 1 January 2021 once freedom of movement with the EU has ended, ensuring that the UK continues to attract the brightest and best from around the world. The new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally, giving top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, innovators and academics.
The new points-based immigration system will award points for specific skills, professions, salaries or qualifications/attributes, and visas will be awarded to those who gain sufficient points. The system will provide simple, effective, and flexible arrangements for skilled workers to come to the UK.
The Home Secretary will also announce a reformed Global Talent route. This will include a new fast-track scheme for world-leading scientists, top researchers and mathematicians to come to the UK. This will run alongside the points-based immigration system and will allow a small number of highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.
This is just the latest example of the UK’s continuing global outlook following the UK’s departure from the EU and the UK Home Office will publish further details on the new points-based immigration system in due course.
How can Legal Road help?
We can provide guidance on the UK immigration arrangements for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members and help you to secure your UK immigration and working status.
If you are an employer, we can provide assistance with Brexit planning and guidance on how to secure the immigration and working status of your EU, EEA and Swiss citizen employees and their family members in the UK to protect your skilled workforce.
BREXIT: What UK expatriates need to know about the Withdrawal Agreement The UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020. The Brexit transition period