Negotiations for Brexit are underway and the UK Government has now set out its proposals relating to EU citizens currently living in the UK.
The Government is proposing to introduce a new “settled status” in UK law for EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for five continuous years by a specified date (which has not yet been determined but will be between 29 March 2017 and the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU) There will also be a grace period for EU citizens who have not met the qualifying conditions at that date, enabling them to stay in the UK for a fixed period of time (expected to be 2 years) following Brexit so that applications can be made.
Following this period, all EU citizens wishing to work in the UK will require permission under a new immigration regime, on which we await further details.
Whist these proposals give some degree of comfort, the Government has indicated that they are conditional on the EU agreeing to reciprocal arrangements for British citizens living in Europe. Therefore, it is important to remember that these are just the starting negotiating positions and we can expect to see both sides making concessions.
There are many questions to be answered and deliberated over. Should an individual who has been granted settled status subsequently lose that status for example, if they live outside the UK for a period of time? What about family members who arrive in the UK after Brexit? What judicial body will have ultimate jurisdiction in deciding on areas of dispute?
What should Employers do now?
This continuing uncertainty has already seen employers who are heavily dependent on EU workers facing challenges, such as the departure of key staff.
Employers need to start analysing their long term strategy for attracting and retaining talent in a significantly reduced talent pool and invest in building a skilled workforce,
As negotiations continue, and there is toying between “hard” and “soft” Brexit strategies, it is important that businesses focus on supporting their staff so as to ensure that they remain loyal to the firm if negotiations allow them to remain living and working in the UK. Employers should continue to communicate with and reassure staff and give access to advice and assistance. Some employers are offering consultations and surgeries with HR or immigration specialists. The Government has indicated that EU workers who have already applied for and been granted permanent residence, will need to make a further application for settled status, but it will be a more streamlined process. Therefore, we would advise that applications for permanent residence continue to be made.
Boyes Turner's Immigration team can assist with Brexit surgeries or advice on permanent residence. For further advice and assistance please contact Claire Taylor-Evans or Laurence Anstis of Boyes Turner's Business Immigration team on [email protected] or [email protected].
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.