News & Updates

Business Immigration

Iona Whyte

Published byIona Whyte

16th July 2021

Business Immigration

June marked the deadline for EU citizens living in the UK to apply to the EU settlement scheme - a way of regulating how long someone has lived and worked in Great Britain. Previously in the UK, we had free movement, which meant people could work where they wanted to in the EU with no need to apply for a visa to do so. The same applied for EU nationals working here - they could apply for a status and for citizenship without having legal documentation of when they arrived in the UK. Following Brexit, the rules have changed, and EU nationals must now have documentation which shows they have been living in the UK for at least five years in order to have the right to reside. Many people will not have this in place as it wasn’t a legal requirement previously, so despite the EU settlement scheme being in place, it is likely that a number of EU nationals will have to start from scratch.

We know that Brexit has happened, but we haven’t really had to think much about the impact it will have on EU workers up until now. There are hurdles to jump through if you have an EU national working for you or who you want to hire; and some employers aren’t fully aware of the legal requirements moving forward.

As an employer, if you want to hire an EU citizen, you must now carry out more stringent right to work checks on that person. The same goes for current staff – up until the end of June you couldn’t ask an EU national whether they had applied to the EU settlement scheme or not, but now the onus is on employers to check if staff have applied to regulate their status to be in the UK, and to see relevant documentation.

The EU settlement scheme was in place for those already living and working in UK, so they would not be required to go through a sponsor license route or get their employer to help with a visa application. Since the deadline passed on 30 June 2021, employers must now follow new processes when hiring an EU national. If a person is arriving from outside of the UK, their employer must help them with their visa application so they can specify that they’re coming here for work. This is the process that has always been in place for other foreign nationals out with the EU, and the same now goes for those from the EU. UK employers must have a license to employ anyone who is not a UK national and who doesn’t already have a regulated status in Britain.

When it comes to current employees, HR staff doing right to work checks must keep on top of visa expiry dates, to ensure they are not in any sort of breach from an employment perspective. It’s also important to be aware of the impact of COVID-19 regulation on business immigration. Due to certain restrictions, right to work checks can be carried out purely online at the moment. Normally, however, an employer would expect to meet with the new member of staff to validate their right to work documents in person. As it stands, checks will go back to being done in person from September 2021.

At Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, our team of employment law experts can advise on issues relating to business immigration, and ensure you are kept up to date with the most recent laws in this area. If you have any questions about how our team can help, do not hesitate to get in touch on 0141 248 3434.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of relevant law and practice as at July 2021. Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP cannot be held responsible for any action taken or not taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be taken on any individual matter. Transmissions to or from our email system and calls to or from our offices may be monitored and/or recorded for regulatory purposes. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 302 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RZ. A limited liability partnership registered in Scotland, number SO 300336.