In the month since the UK voted to leave the EU there has been a lot of discussion and speculation about the immigration implications for EU nationals already living in the UK. Employers understandably have concerns about how the vote will affect existing employees so we have put together the following list of FAQs which explain the current position.
- Do EU employees need visas now?
Until the UK leaves the EU freedom of movement of workers will continue to apply. This means that existing employees do not need visas to continue working and it is still possible to recruit new employees from the EU.
- Will staff need visas once the UK leaves the EU?
The exact status of EU nationals working in the UK will only be determined once the UK negotiates its exit from the EU, but several Government figures have suggested that protection will be offered to existing employees.
Once the UK leaves the EU, new recruits will need visas but there are no details about whether the current immigration rules will apply or if a new system will be brought into place.
Staff who are currently employed on the basis of residence cards or family permits issued to family members of EU nationals will also be affected by the vote. Their status is likely to be the same as EU nationals but alternative rules could be applied to them.
This is an area which we will continue to monitor and any updates will be published on the firm's Brexit page.
- What about UK employees on assignment in the EU?
The same uncertainty applies to UK nationals currently living elsewhere in the EU, and their status is likely to be determined during the negotiations between the UK and other Member States.
- What should employers be doing now?
At this stage employers should carry out an audit of their workforce to identify any staff who may be affected by the Brexit vote. Staff affected by the referendum will have concerns and it will be important to keep them up to date.
Long term EU staff may be entitled to confirmation of permanent residence in the UK or even British citizenship so it is important to ask whether they intend to pursue this to ensure personnel records are up to date. This will apply to employees who have been in the UK for more than 5 years and will require them to make an application to the Home Office. Individuals who complete 5 years residence during the negotiating and Article 50 notice periods will continue to be able to apply for permanent residence and British citizenship.
If you have any questions about the immigration implications of Brexit please get in touch.