Brexit Radar insight: immigration

The UK’s exit from the EU has varied impacts on how a business operates and teams that work there. From the right to work to sponsorship regulations and settlement schemes, immigration developments are forcing businesses to update their guidance to match new laws.

Below we cover changes to sponsorship of skilled workers, the EU settlement scheme (EUSS), and how the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement affects the movement of people. This information is based on insight originally shared in the UK. To see more from Mazars in the UK about Brexit, go here.

Sponsorship for skilled workers

Employers breathed a sigh of relief when UK Visas and Immigration announced formal Resident Labour Market Test requirements would be removed for sponsorship under the skilled worker route. However, they soon discovered the devil was in the detail as employers are still required to retain evidence of the recruitment process to ensure the role was for a genuine vacancy.

Documents you must retain for advertised roles

If the role was advertised, employers are expected to retain details of any advertising placed including: screenshots, printouts or photocopies or a recording of the text of the advert. They should also keep information on where the job was advertised and for how long, in addition to: the number of people who applied, the number of people shortlisted for interview (and for other stages in the recruitment process), and at least one other item of evidence or information which shows the process used to identify the most suitable candidate.

There is no specific minimum number of adverts you must place, or how to advertise. While they recommend you retain evidence of all adverts placed, you do not need to retain application forms, CVs, interview notes or other personal data relating to unsuccessful candidates.

Documents you must retain for non-advertised roles

If the role was not advertised, employers must be able to explain (and, where practical, provide evidence of) how they identified the worker was suitable. This could include retaining evidence of the university ‘milkround’; if the candidate was already working for you on another immigration route, you need to prove how you established they were suitable for the role through their previous performance; and if the candidate applied to you outside of a formal advertising campaign, how you were satisfied they were suitable (e.g. through interviewing them and/or checking references or qualifications.)

The upcoming deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was introduced by the UK Government in March 2019. The scheme allows EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who were residents in the UK before the end of the EU Exit transition period to retain their previous rights.

The deadline for applying to the scheme is 30 June 2021. By this date, all eligible applicants are expected to have applied for the scheme. The current processing time is between three to four weeks from date of submission. Failure to make an application by the deadline could result in individuals considered to be resident unlawfully.

Who can apply

Except for a few cases, you should apply if you are:

  • An EU, EEA, and Swiss citizen; or
  • Not an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen but your family member is (or is an eligible person of Northern Ireland).
  • Irish citizens do not need to apply for status under the EUSS but can do if they want.

Status under the EUSS

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who successfully apply to the scheme before 30 June 2021 will receive either Pre-Settled Status (if they have not been in the UK for five continuous years) or Settled Status. If applying in the UK, most applicants will not be issued with an actual visa but will receive an email link that contains confirmation of their status.

Settled Status provides the status holder with ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ in the UK and is granted to those that can show they have been resident in the UK for five years or more. Once they have held Settled Status for a period of 12 months, the holder can apply for British citizenship, if eligible.

Pre-Settled Status is granted to individuals who can show that they have been continuously resident in the UK for a period less than five years. These individuals will be granted five years of time-limited leave and will be able to apply for Settled Status once they can satisfy the continuous residence requirements. Individuals with either Settled or Pre-Settled Status will continue to be able to live, work, use the NHS, enrol in education, and access public funds, if eligible.

Find out more about the upcoming deadline here.

Impact of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on movement of people

The agreement, ratified by the UK Parliament in December 2020, means:

  • The end of freedom of movement of persons between the UK and the EU.
  • Visa-free travel remains for short term visits in accordance with domestic law.
  • The entry, temporary stay and employment of intra-corporate transferees is allowed.
  • Work permits are not imposed on business visitors for establishment purposes.
  • Market access restrictions (such as economic needs tests) or discriminatory barriers on businesspersons are not imposed.

The permissible length of stay is three years for managers and specialists, up to one year for trainee employees and up to 90 days within any six-month period of business visitors for establishment purposes.

The Agreement also includes comprehensive measures on transparency and procedural facilitations, with the intended aim of easing the burden on future visa and work permit applicants.

Statement of changes to the immigration rules

On 31 December 2020 a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was implemented, which includes amendments to the ‘visitor rules’ and added the following as permitted activities:

  • Visitors can conduct market research or analysis in the UK for their employment overseas.
  • Researchers can conduct independent research in the UK for their employment overseas.
  • Translators and/or interpreters can translate/ interpret in the UK as an employee of an enterprise overseas.

These changes are in addition to the end of freedom of movement, which means employers should review their existing business travel guidance. Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals should speak to their final consumers in the UK and ensure they are aware of the new time limitations. It is also recommended that you seek further guidance to establish whether your sector qualifies for these extended time periods.

When planning travel between the UK and the EU, you and your employees should be aware of the following:

  • UK and EU citizens will not be required to obtain a visa before travelling provided they are undertaking a short term visit for a permissible business purpose.
  • UK citizens travelling to the EU will need to ensure their passport is valid for at least six months from date of arrival.
  • The permissible length of stay for short-term visits will be for a period of up to 90 days in any six-month period.
  • Exceptions to the general rules may apply for contractual service suppliers, independent professionals, and business visitors for establishment purposes.
  • Individuals who will be working in the UK / EU will be required to apply for permission to work. The requirements for work permission are governed by the national laws of UK / each Member State.

For more on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement go here.

Brexit Radar: plan your next steps

Mazars has launched Brexit Radar, an online tool that enables businesses in all jurisdictions to access - in one place - information about Brexit developments and changes to operating in Europe and the UK. Find the free-to-use tool here and discover what’s on your Brexit Radar.

More information?

Would you like to know more about developments in immigration? Please contact Alexander Rasing by e-mail or by phone: +31 (0)88 277 16 15 or Remco Schoonderwoerd by e-mail or by phone: +31 (0)88 277 16 45. They will be happy to help you.