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Post-Brexit business immigration: What is the current situation for employers?

As the UK prepares its formal exit from the EU on the 31st January, many businesses who recruit from overseas or who have operations within the EU are facing a significant degree of uncertainty. To assist these businesses, our dedicated employment and business immigration team has pulled together the facts as they stand at the moment, the key issues for employers in terms of the movement of employees and the current outlook.

The current situation

The UK’s Exit Date is set for the 31st January 2020. The EU Withdrawal Bill puts in place a period, which will run until 31st December 2020. This is also known as “transition period”.

The immigration white paper sets out post-Brexit immigration policy, which states that EU and non-EU migrants would be treated on the same basis. In February 2020, the Government issued an original policy statement on the new UK points-based immigration system. An updated statement was issued in July 2020. The key features of the Points-Based Systems are as follows:

  • Both EU and non EU applicants will need to have a job offer from an approved sponsor at the required skills level and must be able to demonstrate they can speak English;
  • Applicants will need to have 70 points from the following list of characteristics, with some of them being tradeable, to be eligible to apply:
    • Offer of job by approved sponsor – 20 points
    • Job at appropriate skill level (at least RQF 3) – 20 points
    • Speaks English at required level – 10 points
    • Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 – 0 points
    • Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 – 10 points
    • Salary of £25,600 or more – 20 points
    • Job in a shortage occupation – 20 points
    • Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the job – 10 points
    • Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job – 20 points
  • Employers will be required to obtain a sponsorship licence;
  • The resident labour market test process will be abolished.

Arrangements that will continue until 31 December 2020 Arrangements after 31 December 2020

  • Free movement
  • EU citizens residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 and their family members are eligible for the right to remain in the UK indefinitely under the EU Settlement Scheme (subject to meeting the requirements). The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.

Arrangements after 31 December 2020

  • From 1 January 2021, all new EU arrivals will require a valid immigration status to live, work and study in the UK. In most cases EEA nationals will not receive a physical document evidencing their status. Instead, it will be linked to their passport number and will be able to be verified using an online system.
  • Employers will continue to be able to confirm an EEA national’s right to work using only their passport or national ID card until 30 June 2021. From 1 July 2021, employers must see proof of immigration status which will be either from the EU Settlement Scheme or from the new immigration system.

Our recommendations for employers and employees
EU employer of UK based business

  • Support EU/EEA/Switzerland nationals and their families to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the European Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by 30 June 2021
  • Where the qualifications of the employees who work within a regulated profession were not awarded in the UK, those may need to be officially recognised in the UK after the transition period. Therefore, employers should support employees to seek recognition from the relevant regulators before 1 January 2021

Recruiting EU nationals

  • If possible, recruit new workers from the EU/EEA/Switzerland and bring them to the UK prior to 31 December 2020 and support them through their application for pre-settled status under EUSS
  • EU/EEA/Swiss nationals arriving after 31 December 2020 for work will need to qualify under the new post-Brexit immigration system if staying longer
  • Where the qualifications of the employees who work within a regulated profession were not awarded in the UK, those may need to be officially recognised in the UK after the transition period. Therefore employers should support new hires to seek recognition from the relevant regulators prior to arrival if possible.

UK citizens travelling to EU countries for work

  • UK nationals will be able to continue travelling and working in EU countries without restriction until 31 December 2020
  • From 1 January 2021, employers may need to support UK employees to apply for relevant visas and permits in specific EU countries, even if working only for a few days. Check what the entry requirements or necessary documents are and make sure they are ready before travelling
  • Where the qualifications of the employees who work within a regulated profession were not awarded in the UK, those may need to be officially recognised in the UK after the transition period. Therefore, employers should support employees to seek recognition from the relevant regulators before 1 January 2021

EU citizens travelling to the UK for work where employer is a UK based business

  • EU/EEA/Swiss nationals travelling to the UK for work can continue to do so until 31 December 2020
  • From 1 January 2021, EU/EEA/Swiss citizens will need to comply with the new business visitor rules in the UK. The UK will no longer accept national ID cards for entry to the UK for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens from this date
  • Where the qualifications of the employees who work within a regulated profession were not awarded in the UK, those may need to be officially recognised in the UK after the transition period. Therefore employers should support employees to seek recognition from the relevant regulators before 1 January 2021

As negotiations continue both at home and overseas, all advice is subject to change as we approach the end of the year but we will do our best to keep you up to date with all key developments. Our employment team is hosting a webinar on 12th January 2021 to provide all employers with a comprehensive update on developments in employment law, including the latest news on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. More details on this webinar and its agenda are on our Events page, but if you would like to register your place, please email events@andrewjackson.co.uk.

If you are unsure about the legal implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU for your business and employees, our dedicated team is here to help you. If you are looking for help and advice, talk to our friendly team today by calling 01482 325242 or email enquiries@andrewjackson.co.uk.

Correct as of 1pm 27.11.2020

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