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Brexit and travel between UK and EU

Let’s start by saying this is relevant advice now but things might change. We’ll update this blog if they do.

Many firms we work with have people moving between countries, either permanently or for a fixed period of time or just for business visits. We all have concerns about how things might change now that the UK no longer has access to EU freedom of movement.

So here’s some helpful advice.

We’re focusing on potential risks for people moving around, because you don’t want the hassle and heartache of travel from your current home to your country of origin and back again being disrupted.

Coming to the UK

A points-based system is in place and you can see initial plans here.  The short version is: it’s a revised Tier 2 process. You need a job offer, minimum £25,600 salary and good English language skills, or work in a shortage occupation job. There are currently no easy routes into the UK for self-employed people.

The big exception for European citizens is that people from Ireland will still have freedom of movement to move to and work in the UK, as part of the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands).

EU citizen in the UK

If you’re an EU citizen and currently live in the UK, you should apply for Settled Status. It’s free to apply and the deadline is 30 June 2021, although frankly the sooner the better, and you cannot apply for this if you entered the UK after December 2020. Having it means less potential risk for you when you travel away from the UK and return, for a start.

Here’s a link for more information and to apply: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families. This site also has incredibly useful information https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/immigration/staying-in-the-uk-after-brexit/applying-for-settled-status/.

If you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years – or 3 years if you’re married to, or in a civil partnership with, a UK citizen – then you can apply for UK citizenship. This is a longer process and costs more than £1,000. Here’s a link https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/citizenship.

Not sure if you’re staying in the UK but maybe coming back later?

What about EU people who are living and working in the UK for a while, but not sure if they plan to stay – for example, they might leave the UK but maybe return in the future?

You can apply for Settled Status and that’s the advice from Coadec (Coalition for a Digital Economy) which acts as a policy voice for tech start-ups. The key reason is that you can leave the UK for up to 5 years and return, once you have Settled Status. Without it, you will only be able to spend 2 years outside the UK.

UK citizen in the EU

This depends where you are and you need to contact your local government office. If you’re planning to move any UK employees to EU countries, you need to check this and think carefully before you go ahead.

Right to work in the UK – employer checks

This is a bit complicated. Currently people from EU countries who came to the UK before December 2020 are fine, in terms of the employer’s legal obligations to have proof of the legal right to work. Employers can ask to see passports but also any visas, if people entered the UK after 1st January 2021 (when freedom of movement ended).

But the current Government guidance is that employers cannot ask for proof of settled or pre-settled status until July 2021. Insisting on seeing this could result in a race discrimination claim.

The best approach is to carry out the usual right to work checks by seeing passports and employers won’t be expected to carry out these checks again retrospectively later in 2021.

What happens if you’re not sure when someone moved to the UK and they start work with you between January and June 2021? Ask and if that’s the case then ask to see a visa too. But we’re waiting for Home Office guidance about this – watch this space.

Non-UK graduates in the UK

The Government says that from summer 2021, all international graduates will have a two-year visa to work in the UK. This returns the situation to the visas issued until 2012 when it was reduced to four months.

Applications for student visas will also be points-based and this article has useful information.

As things change and develop, we’ll add updates.

We also have a useful guide to people taking medications, who may be worried about disruption to their supply and you can see it here. You probably work with someone who is taking medication, even if you don’t know about it.


By Brian


Updated 13/04/2021


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