The pandemic has well and truly knocked the UK’s departure from the EU off the news agenda, but nonetheless legislative changes have been taking place, including rules around who can remain and work in the country.
Under the terms of the EU Settlement Scheme, all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, and their eligible family members, who were living in the UK before the end of the transition period (on 31 December 2020), are allowed to remain as UK residents.
Anyone who is the family member of an eligible person of Northern Ireland can also remain, whether or not that are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen or not.
But importantly this right is not automatic and an application must be made to the EU Settlement Scheme. The process is free but the deadline for application is 30 June 2021 – only a few weeks away.
Do you employ EU, EEA or Swiss nationals in your business? Then it is essential to make them aware of the EU Settlement Scheme, without delay. Otherwise, they will no longer be allowed to continue living and working in the UK – and you face losing some of your workforce.
As of 31 March, 5.3 million people had applied and 4.98 million applications had been dealt with, but it is not clear how many have yet to apply. Leaving it too late could have a knock on effect on the labour market, since rights over residency and working will be withdrawn.
What happens when you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
Those applying will be granted either settled status or pre-settled status.
You usually get settled status if you:
- started living in the UK before 31 December 2020
- have lived in the UK for a continuous five year period (known as ‘continuous residence’)
If you do not have five years’ continuous residence when you apply, you’ll usually get pre-settled status.
Once you have five years’ continuous residence, you can apply for settled status, but you must do this before your pre-settled status expires.
Even if you hold a permanent residence card, or have been here for a very long time, you still need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Individuals with indefinite leave to enter the UK, indefinite leave to remain in the UK and nationals of the Republic of Ireland do not have to apply.
What is meant by five years’ continuous residence?
Five years’ continuous residence means that for five years in a row you’ve been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least six months in any 12 month period. There are exceptions to this, including:
- one period of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’ (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting)
- compulsory military service of any length
- time spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
- time spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces.
Once settled status is granted, you can remain in the UK indefinitely, and may also be entitled to apply for British citizenship, subject to eligibility.
Switching from pre-settled to settled status
You can stay in the UK for a further five years from the date you get pre-settled status, applying to switch to settled status once five years’ continuous residence has been reach. The five years is counted from your date of arrival in the UK.
Application must be approved before pre-settled status expires.
How to apply for settled and pre-settled status
The application process is relatively straightforward. You’ll need proof of ID (such as a valid passport or national identity card).
Documents can be scanned using the EU Exit: ID Document Check app or sent by post.
You can find more information and a link for the application process here.
Employing EU and non-EU nationals
A new immigration system is now in place to cover the employment both of EU and non-EU nationals. EU nationals now need a visa to be allowed to live and work in the UK, which is likely to have an impact on the availability of labour. When the Covid-related travel restrictions are factored in, then the effect is magnified.
If you have concerns or issues regarding EU employment status, or would like to talk to the 24-7 Staffing resourcing team about employing people in your business, please do get in touch.
24-7 Staffing works with employers and jobseekers across Chippenham, Bristol, Salisbury, Wiltshire and the South West, primarily placing workers in the driving, commercial, industrial and healthcare sectors.