Who remembers Brexit? Apply now for Settled Status

While our minds have rightly been elsewhere, time is ticking towards Brexit. I never thought I would say that. Slipping under the radar is the effect this will have on EU nationals and their right to work in the UK.

With effect from 1 January 2021 major changes are coming. Other than Irish citizens, EU nationals will need a visa to work in the UK. From past experience, this will not be easy. Happily for the many EU citizens that already live and/or work in the UK, there is an alternative. One that you should encourage your employees to apply for, now.

Settled Status

EU nationals who started living in the UK before 31 December 2020 should apply for settled status. They have until 30 June 2021 to do so. Once granted, they will not need a visa. This doesn’t just apply to people who work. It applies to their family members too.

There are two types of status, depending upon how long the person has lived in the UK:

  • Five continuous years or more – Settled Status
  • Less than five continuous years – Pre-settled Status*

*Once they have lived in the UK for five continuous years, they can apply for Settled Status.

The scheme is free of charge. Encourage your employees to apply for it now. Without this, as of 1 July 2021, you will not be able to employ them.

What if they don’t have settled status?

The UK currently operates a points-based system for skilled overseas workers. In a manner of speaking, this system will be extended to EU Nationals from January 2021.

To be granted a visa, the applicant will need to achieve 50 points under test one, plus at least 20 points under test two, as follows:

To bring people into the UK under this system, your business will also need to be a sponsor.

To become a Sponsor

If you want to become a sponsor, I would strongly suggest you start looking into this now. Don’t wait until you have found a great candidate, I promise you frustration if you do.

There are additional costs you need to be aware of, such as:

  • The cost of becoming a sponsor
  • The cost of each visa. Currently £1,000 per year for a Tier Two migrant
  • Potential wage inflation costs to meet minimum wage levels
  • The immigration health surcharge, if you choose to pay it on their behalf

The Home Office estimates that 70% of EU workers currently in the UK would not meet the requirements for a visa under the new scheme. In other words, it is likely to be much more difficult, expensive and in some cases, impossible to employ EU nationals in certain roles.

Actions you should take now

I would strongly encourage you to look ahead and prepare:

  • Audit your files to see which employees this will affect
  • Make all staff aware of this scheme. It may affect relatives too
  • Strongly encourage people to apply
  • Ask for evidence of settled status, once achieved
  • Assess how you would have coped, had you not been able to employ EU Nationals this year
  • Are you likely to want to sponsor EU Nationals in the future?
  • If so, apply to become a sponsor now
  • Review how you source, train and retain talent

I understand that Brexit maybe the last thing on your mind right now.  It is just around the corner.  If you need any support on this, please call me.


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