Current plans for settled status scheme
EU nationals already in the UK are able to stay after the UK leaves the EU on the same terms as they currently enjoy. Assuming a Brexit deal is agreed, this is also the case for those who arrive during the planned "transition period", being the period after 29 March 2019 but before the end of December 2020. EU workers living in the UK before the end of December 2020 will be able to remain here permanently and have until the end of June 2021 to apply for permanent settlement in the UK known as "settled status". Close family members can join them before 29 March 2022.
The settled status application process is designed to be fairly straightforward. Most people will be able to apply online using a smartphone app to verify their identity. Those who already have five years’ UK residence at the time of their application will be granted settled status. Anyone with less than five years’ residence at the time of the application, will get a similar status, known as pre-settled status, which will last for five years, enabling them to remain in the UK for as long as they need to and, in time, gain their settled status.
What happens in the case of no-deal? The settled status scheme will be rolled out, deal or no-deal, for those EU nationals in the UK before Brexit, although the deadline for applying for settled status is earlier, 31 December 2020, in a no deal scenario. However, the Government has recently announced that EU nationals arriving post-Brexit under a no-deal "will be subject to UK immigration control and free movement will end".
After Brexit and until the implementation of the UK’s new immigration system, described below, EU nationals arriving in the UK will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain if they wish to stay longer than three months. This is a temporary, non-extendable immigration status. This status will not lead to permanent settlement or enable EU nationals to stay in the UK indefinitely.
Future immigration policy
The Government’s recent White Paper sets out the future migration system post-Brexit. It will be introduced on a phased approach with a view to implementation from 2021. We have set out a few of the key points below.
There will only be one single system for skilled workers to come to the UK, with no preferential treatment for EU nationals. The definition of "skilled" has been expanded. Under the current non-EU system, employers can only recruit workers in job roles skilled to RQF Level 6 and above (also known as graduate level). Under the proposed new system, the skilled route will also apply to those job roles at RQF 3-5. This is significant as it means employers can recruit engineering and science technicians from across the globe.
Removal of cap and RLMT
The cap on the number of skilled workers coming to the UK to be recruited by UK employers will be removed and the time-consuming Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) will be abolished. Currently, an employer wanting to recruit from outside of Europe has to undertake the RLMT, which requires them to advertise the job vacancies for at least 28 days. We have found that this doesn’t tend to result in posts then being offered to the domestic labour market and simply slows down the process for finding the right person elsewhere.
Increased costs for employers
Currently, only 9% of manufacturers specifically recruit from outside the EU, which means the vast majority won’t have been exposed to the costs that accompany navigating an immigration system. In the post-Brexit system, employers who want to recruit a skilled EU or non-EU worker will have to pay some hefty costs including visa fees, the Immigration Skills Charge and the Health Surcharge. Add to that the cost of any internal resource or external advice they may need – all of this adds up.
How we can help
We are holding a series of "Migration Matters" seminars in March which are aimed at HR and are designed to help you get to grips with the impact of the ending of free movement rights and how to get Brexit Ready. Click here to book your place.
We know that keeping up with all the Brexit announcements and knowing what your business should be doing is tricky. That’s why we have a dedicated Brexit Hub and also a Brexit Toolkit which gives you everything you need to know. Our simple step-by-step guide tells you what your company should be doing now around trade, migration and regulation.