There is not very much that has been settled or certain about the UK’s exit from Europe. 

Somewhat ironically, the EU Settlement Scheme, first announced in June 2018 and operational from 30 March 2019, has remained just that, albeit with some changes.  EU citizens resident in the UK before the date the UK leaves the EU (Brexit Date) wishing to remain in the UK indefinitely after Brexit, must apply for settled or pre-settled status. 

These applications, if there is no deal, should be made by 31 December 2020.  If there is a deal, it is thought that this date will extend to 30 June 2021 and EU citizens who are resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 (rather than the earlier Brexit Date) will be able to apply.  Pre-settled status applies to EU citizens with less than five years residency in the UK.  Once residency goes over five years, individuals can apply to have their residency upgraded to settled status.  Settled status confers on the individual’s right to permanent residence in the UK. 

With this new system, a key question is what checks will be required by employers going forward when employing EU nationals.  Currently, EU nationals must produce either a passport or national identity card to demonstrate their right to work, which will remain the same until 31 December 2020 (if the UK leaves without a deal).  After that date, employers will need to check the settled/pre-settled status of potential workers/employees by checking their online immigration profile before employment.  In a no-deal scenario, EU workers who arrive after Brexit Day have two choices; they can remain in the UK until 31 December 2020 and then apply under whatever immigration rules are in place by then.  If they apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (ETLR), they will be given 36 months to remain in the UK from the date their application is granted.  Workers can make this application once they arrive in the UK, and their 36 months will most likely count towards any settlement required under a new immigration system.

If Brexit is the new dawn, then it is a brighter one for settled workers and employees.  The Settlement Scheme is in place and offers some certainty for workers and employers alike.  There are, however, still some dark clouds of uncertainty; no information regarding the new immigration rules has been published as yet, and workers who have not acquired settled/pre-settled status or ETLR  will not be legally permitted to remain in the UK from 1 January 2021 in the event of no-deal. 

For more information

Please contact Katherine Sinclair.