As of 1st January 2021, EU nationals arriving in the UK will be treated same as non-EU nationals. They will need a visa to enter the UK on a long-term basis and therefore, may require sponsorship to work. To sponsor an individual, the business must hold a sponsorship licence and the position must meet the requirements for a skilled worker visa.
The government introduced the new immigration system on 1st December 2020. Numerous changes will make the process easier for sponsors including:
EU nationals who are resident in the UK prior to the 31st December 2020 can remain in the UK with the same rights as they have now. Crucially however, they must apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme prior to the deadline of 30 June 2021. If they have been resident in the UK for over 5 years, they will qualify for settled status and can remain in the UK indefinitely. If they have lived in the UK for less than 5 years, they can apply for pre-settled status and thereafter obtain settled status once they have reached 5 years. It is an individual’s responsibility to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Applicants who want to apply for settled status need to show that they have lived in the UK for five continuous years, starting before 31 December 2020. Continuity of residence is generally broken by absences of more than six months in any one year. However, not all absences of more than six months break the continuity. Applicants for pre-settled status must show that they moved to the UK before 31 December 2020 and that, since their last entry to the UK before 31 December 2020, they have not been absent for more than six months (or for more than twelve months if the absence was for an “important reason”).
All employers must conduct right to work checks on all employees, irrespective of their nationality. Currently, EU nationals can rely on their EU passport in order to prove they have the right to work in the UK. When engaging EU nationals who apply for positions after 1 January 2021, employers must conduct a right to work check in the usual way and do not need to ask for confirmation of an EU national’s status under the settlement scheme. This will remain the case until 30 June 2021, which is the deadline for EU nationals to apply to the scheme.
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“This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.”