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No Deal Brexit will result in problems recruiting EU Nationals
With the recent votes on Brexit negotiation strategy, you may have missed the announcement from home secretary Sajid Javid Amid that free movement will end in a no-deal scenario.

As a transitional measure the government has outlined that EU nationals will be able to enter the UK for a strictly limited three-month period – for any purpose, including work, study etc. If they want to stay in the UK for longer, they will need to make an application for a new category of visa called “European Temporary Leave to Remain.”

This visa will be valid for a three-year period. If EU nationals wish to remain in the UK after this expires, they will have to apply for a further visa, (which if current proposals are adopted will need to fall within one of the tiers of the UK’s current points-based visa system.)

The new provisions won’t apply to Irish citizens who will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK under the Common Travel Area.

But we do not know how long the transitional period will be – the implication is that all EU nationals seeking to enter the UK after that could be required to hold a valid visa. We just don’t know!

No information has been provided about the likely fees for leave to remain visa applications. If they are like other leave to remain applications, then this could mean that they may cost in the region of £500 - £600.

It is also going to cause problems for employers trying to work out how to establish exactly the right to work of their EU employees. This is despite the previous reassuring noises that had been made by the government that there would be no immediate issues for employers.

This announcement may come as a surprise. Previous information from the government had given the impression that there would be no immediate visa concerns for employers to worry about when recruiting EU nationals, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Indeed, previous Home Office statements had confirmed that EU nationals would retain the right to work in the UK until at least December 2020 and had confirmed that there would be no changes to right to work compliance checks until 1 January 2021. This no longer seems to be the case and employers may have to react to new compliance challenges swiftly if no deal occurs.

So what can you do as an employer now to prepare for a no-deal scenario?

The new visa requirements only apply to EU nationals who are entering the UK post-Brexit i.e. after 29 March 2019. So anyone here before this date will be eligible for the settled status scheme and will need to apply for and obtain settled or pre-settled status in line with the relevant deadline to ensure they retain the legal right to live and work in the UK.

As an employer you need to make sure that your staff are aware of these requirements, but you must not give immigration advice without being suitably qualified.

Think about your current recruitment activities. If you have successful candidates with start dates after 29 March 2019, would it be possible to review their nationality/right to work status now? And if they are EU nationals explore whether it is possible for them to enter the UK before 29 March 2019.

It may also be a good idea to review your immigration compliance policies, procedures and practices so that you are ready to make the necessary changes quickly when we know what they will be to avoid the risk of illegal working (and the associated civil penalty of £20,000 per illegal worker or the criminal penalties of unlimited fines and a maximum of five years’ imprisonment).

Updates will be published here when we have more information.
Posted on 15 Feb 2019

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