Yvette Cooper raises a red flag on lack of guidance for EU citizens resident in UK.

Deal or no-deal – the implications for the 3 million EU citizens and their families that live and work in the UK are profound, hitting their personal, family and professional lives.

The knock-on effects on businesses and organisations that employ EU citizens are hardly less.

Yesterday in Parliament, Yvette Cooper, MP, put an emergency question to the Home Office Minister regarding the rights and practicalities of continuing to live and work in the UK for EU citizens in the event of a no-deal.

Cooper is uniquely qualified to probe as she chairs the Commons ‘Home Affairs Select Committee’ and is bringing facts put to the committee into the public domain through her role as Member of Parliament.

Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes, responded by confirming in the event of no-deal, all EU citizens “registered within the UK by 29 March 2019 would be ‘welcome to stay’".

We have previously focused on the situation once the right of freedom of movement of people ends with Brexit – and the requirements for EU citizens and their families to register if they want leave to remain (Insight | Aug 23, 2018).

EU citizens and their employers need to act.  Nokes drew the distinction between those that have been resident for 5 years – who will be able to apply for ‘Resident’ status – once the Home Office has developed and implemented a registration procedure and set the application fees – and, those who have been residents for less than 5 years who may be allowed to apply for ‘pre-resident’ status.

The Home Office presently estimates that the application for residence scheme will be in place by 2021. 

Cooper then pressed the Government about what pre-employment checks will apply to EU citizens in the event of no-deal.  This included the type of documentation EU citizens would have to show in order to apply for work within the UK.

Whilst this addresses the political and regulatory requirements, should the UK crash out of Europe with no-deal and no transition period - many small businesses will lack the resources needed to check if their EU workers are still eligible to work in the UK, warns the Federation of Small Businesses.

Again we have previously highlighted this issue – but to Cooper’s point – there are only 5 months remaining – and this is playing with peoples lives and livelihoods (Insight | Sept 18, 2018).

Nokes confirmed that employers must check whether EU nationals have the right to work in the UK in the event of no deal.

The FSB has researched how well equipped small businesses are to deal with the impact of a no-deal Brexit.  61% of firms who employ EU staff, believe that no deal will impact negatively on their short-term business.  A quarter - 26% - say that they would cut staff in preparation for a no deal Brexit.

 Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national chairman: “Many of our small businesses will be deeply concerned and worried about the possibility of having to check the eligibility of their EU workers if we are faced with a no-deal Brexit…small businesses are not immigration officers and should not be expected to undertake their job.  The reality is that many of these businesses wouldn’t know where to start.  Most small firms don’t have HR or legal departments to deal with complex immigration procedures or the time and resources to deal with the additional administrative burden this would bring.”

Brexit Partners have been closely tracking the Governments guidelines – with over 100 “Technical Notices” now issued.  There is not yet a guide that informs business of what they will need to do if they already have EU staff or wish to hire EU citizens in future.

Clear and concise direction is needed from the Government on the future immigration framework, regulations and procedures.   

Business, commerce and the public sector, including key services such as the NHS that rely heavily on EU workers, can’t plan without knowing what they are planning for.  This needs to extend to seasonal workers.  We are also detecting concerns from international and organisations regarding the status and situation of those on long or short term temporary deployments – and this is beginning to impact their willingness to ask, and the workers willingness to respond to such assignments.

And less we forget - all records kept on staff need to be GDPR compliant – even if Britain leaves the EU.  Every organisation must remain compliant for as long as it holds data on people - including employees - who reside within the EU.

If your organisation needs support or advice on preparing for Brexit, contact us at enquiries@Brexit-Partners.com

Current position for EU citizens living in the UK

To register as a British citizen costs £1,012 Home Office fee – and brings with it all UK rights as a ‘resident’.

Settled Status – a summary of the draft Home Office proposal

Settled status is what the Home Office proposes for all EU citizens that wish to remain in the UK post-Brexit but do not wish - or do not meet the requirements – to apply for British citizenship.

Eligibility for settled status is defined as: an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU citizen; having lived in the UK continuously for 5 years, ‘continuous residence’; begun living in the UK before 31 December 2020.  Again, the caveat that “details of the scheme are still subject to approval by Parliament.”

Those living in the UK for less than 5 years may be eligible for ‘Pre-Settled’ status, instead.  This allows a stay in the UK for a further 5 years, living and working here, and with access to public funds and services on the same basis EU citizens have today as of right.

For those eligible for Settled status may apply on behalf of their children aged under 21, even if they arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020 - unless the child is already a British citizen.  Children born in the UK will automatically be a British citizen and do not need to apply for Settled status.

The scheme is planned to be fully operational by 29 March 2019 and there is a deadline for applications of 31 June 2021.

Applications will be online and will require proof and evidence of: identity; residence in the UK; relationship to a family member from the EU living in the UK if the applicant is from outside the EU.

Applicants will be asked about any criminal history in the UK and overseas.

The fee per applicant is £65 for those over (£32.50 if under 16); and its free if the applicant: already has valid indefinite leave to remain, or a valid permanent residence document; is applying to move from pre-settled status to settled status; is a child in local authority care.

John ShuttleworthComment