Recruiting EU Nationals in a New Post-Brexit Era

11 February 2021 Advisory

On 31 December 2020, freedom of movement between the U.K. and EU ended and the U.K. introduced a new immigration system. Although the U.K. and the EU accomplished a last minute “deal” (The EU-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement), for U.K. employers this agreement has not significantly changed the EU-U.K. Withdrawal Agreement from February 2020, which clearly set out that EU nationals coming to the U.K. after 1 January 2021 will require a visa in order to work. Therefore, if a business wishes to seamlessly maintain current staffing levels of EU employees, they need to take action.

The key points for employers:

  • EU nationals resident in the U.K. before 1 January 2021 can still apply under the government’s simplified EU Settlement Scheme. You should continue to encourage your current EU workforce to apply under this scheme. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021.
  • The same visa rules will apply to both EU and non-EU citizens. If you wish to sponsor the visas of EU or non-EU nationals, you will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence from the U.K. Home Office. Please see our FAQ article on applying for a Sponsor Licence.
  • Employers need to budget for the costs associated with visa applications and the lead in times for preparation and processing of a visa under the New Immigration System. The government’s total visa fees can range from £3,000 – £5,000 and can take between 1-3 months to process. Contrast this to when an employer simply took a photocopy of an EU passport on the first day of work to satisfy right to work checks!
  • Irish citizens are excluded and can continue to work in the U.K. visa free.

Our recent webinar covers in more detail the key challenges employers now face in continuing to recruit and retain talent from the EU and can be viewed here. In this webinar, Stephen Hall, our U.K. head of Immigration, covers the following topics, aimed at assisting HR professionals or anyone involved with the recruitment of talent from the EU:

  • Overview of the New Points Based Immigration System.
  • How will the new immigration system affect my business?
  • The minimum skill, education and salary thresholds required.
  • Advice for your existing EU workforce (the EU Settlement Scheme and Irish Nationals).
  • What are the costs and timelines to consider?
  • Alternative visa routes and business visitors to the U.K.
  • Avoiding discrimination when requesting right to work documentation from EU employees.
  • Recommended plan of action for HR professionals.

If you have any questions or do not already hold a Sponsor Licence, please contact Stephen Hall who can assist you with the process or complete our online sponsor licence application form. Stephen has over 10 years’ experience assisting businesses apply for Sponsor Licences and can discuss a tailored plan of action, with fixed fees, to guide you through the entire process.

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