The UK government has confirmed that the rights of EU citizens living in the UK will remain the same until 30th June 2021. The Home Office has rolled out the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS/the Scheme), giving EU citizens (who started living in the UK before 31st December 2020) pre-settled status (the right to live in the UK for 5 years) or settled status (the right to remain indefinitely in the UK).
The deadline for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens (and their eligible family members) to apply to the EUSS is now less than a month away, on Wednesday 30th June 2021.
Successful registration under the Scheme gives EU citizens the right to live and work in the UK after this date. Applying to the Scheme is compulsory for all EU citizens, except for those EU nationals who have already been granted with indefinite leave to remain (which is not the same as Permanent Residence) in the UK.
UK employers should continue to encourage their EU workforce to submit applications under the Scheme up until 30th June 2021, in order to safeguard the retention of their EU staff post-30th June 2021. It is important to note that UK employers legally cannot require their EU staff to provide evidence of registration to the EUSS until 1st July 2021, however they can make staff aware that this evidence will be mandatory from 1st July 2021.
Eligible applicants will be granted with either pre-settled or settled status depending on the length of their continuous residence in the UK. Applicants will not be able to choose which status to apply for when submitting their application, as the status granted is at the discretion of the Home Office.
An EU national will usually get settled status if they’ve lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period. If granted with settled status, an EU citizen can reside in the UK indefinitely, and may then be eligible to apply to naturalise as a British citizen.
An EU national will be allocated with pre-settled status if their continuous residence in the UK is less than 5 years. Once 5 years’ continuous residence has been reached, an EU national can apply to switch to settled status, even if this is after 30th June 2021, so long as they successfully applied for pre-settled status before 30th June 2021.
Once granted with settled or pre-settled status, EU citizens are entitled to:
- Work without restrictions in the UK
- Receive healthcare through the NHS
- Study in the UK
- Access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if eligible
UK employers should ensure that their EU staff take advantage of the EU Settlement Scheme whilst it is still available. Providing this support to EU employees will be significantly cheaper, quicker, and less tedious than sponsoring them under the new points-based system.
The new points-based system came into effect on 1st January 2021, and governs the sponsorship of both EU and non-EU citizens working in the UK. From 1st July 2021, EU nationals without status under the Scheme will require sponsorship by a UK company to live and work in the UK.
Even if a UK company is not sure whether they need to sponsor EU workers from 1st July 2021, they are still allowed to apply for a sponsor licence to sponsor migrant workers.
One of the main requirements to be granted with a sponsor licence under the new points-based system is a company's demonstration that they can offer 'genuine employment' at the minimum skill level required; level 3 of England and Northern Ireland's Regulation Qualifications Framework (RQF) – comparable to an A-level qualification.
Whether a UK business currently holds a sponsor licence or does not, if you intend to employ EU or non-EU migrant workers in the long term, it is essential to take the required steps now to ensure your business will be in the position to do so.
The Clarkslegal UK immigration team provides an immigration service bespoke to the needs of each business under their care, including a pre-licence audit and training service specially tailored to guide your company through the sponsor licence application process and adherence to maintenance duties.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any query you may have. The Clarkslegal UK immigration team will work with you to create a service which most benefits the immigration needs and interests of your business.