During the transition period, free movement rights continue to apply to EU nationals and their family members. As such, until 31 December 2020, EU nationals can enter the UK without visas and live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. EU nationals and their family members 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 will require a visa under the UK's immigration rules. The Home Office has indicated that changes will be made to the UK's immigration rules which will widen the current rules for obtaining a "work permit" visa - known technically as a Tier 2 (General) visa.
Key issues for businesses to consider now in preparation for the end of the transition period 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 between now and 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 from 1 January 2021
- 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.