During the transition period, free movement rights continued to apply to EU nationals and their family members. Until 31 December 2020, EU nationals could enter the UK without visas and live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. EU nationals and their family members who were already living in the UK before 31 December 2020 must make applications under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, otherwise they will be illegally in the UK, regardless of the length of time they have been in the UK.
EU nationals and their family members arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 now require a visa under the UK's immigration rules. Changes to the UK's immigration rules have been made to widen the scope for obtaining a "work permit" visa, now known as a Skilled Worker visa.
Key issues for businesses include:
- Conducting a full audit of their workers in the UK to identify employees who will need to obtain Pre-Settled or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021
- Applying to the Home Office for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence (if not already in place) as soon as possible to ensure the company is ready and able to sponsor workers for Tier 2 visas if required
- For companies which already have a Tier 2 sponsor licence, considering the business' medium-term skilled labour needs and applying for increased certificate of sponsorship allowance to bring in foreign skilled labour
For more information, read our article on Brexit and the UK's New Immigration System.