Recruiting workers from the EU – The differences in a Deal and No Deal scenario

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David Roberts, Invest NI Economist
Feb 01, 2019

The Government published guidance this week on the rights which EU citizens, excluding Irish citizens, will have to come to work in the UK after 29 March 2019 in the event of a No Deal Brexit outcome.

Read the European Temporary Leave to Remain in the UK on gov.uk

For EU citizens already in the UK, there are no new implications from this guidance - the proposals relate to EU citizens who are being recruited or are looking to come to the UK to work after the end of March 2019.

The plans highlight significant differences in the rules between a Deal and a No Deal scenario.

Deal No Deal
Freedom of movement continues to at least December 2020. Freedom of movement ends on 29 March 2019.
EU citizens can work in the UK from the outset with no requirement to register with the Home Office. EU citizens can initially work for 3 months in the UK without registering with the Home Office.
EU citizens can register for the Settled Status scheme. Once an individual has obtained five years residence in the UK, then they can apply for 'indefinite leave to remain' which formalises their rights to stay in the UK. EU citizens wishing to work for longer than 3 months need to apply to the Home Office for 'temporary leave to remain'. If approved, an individual can remain working in the UK for a maximum of 3 years.
Application fees for the Settled Status scheme are no longer payable. There is no automatic right to remain in the UK at the end of the three year period.
  Individuals can continue work in the UK after 2021 if they meet the new skills-based immigration rules. The proposed new rules, which are still being consulted upon, were published in December.
Download the UK's future skills-based immigration system (PDF) from gov.uk
  If the application under the new skills-based system is unsuccessful, then the individual and any family members will have to leave the UK.
  The initial 3 months' leave to enter for EU citizens will be free of charge, but otherwise application fees will be payable.

As the table shows, EU citizens coming to the UK after the end of March 2019 will have significantly fewer rights to remain in a No Deal scenario compared to a Deal outcome.

Implications for Northern Ireland businesses

The implications for Northern Ireland businesses are potentially significant. In the short term, firms seeking to recruit EU workers should, where possible, ensure that any new employees arrive before the end of March 2019. This may mean bringing forward recruitment activity which had been planned for later in 2019.

Looking ahead, employers and others will need to check EU citizens’ status using the Home Office’s Digital Status Checker from 2021. Until then, EU citizens will continue to be able to evidence their rights to work and to rent property using a passport or national identity card, and non-EU family members will use a biometric residence document.

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