With some shops starting the countdown to Christmas, immigration solicitors, and increasing numbers of UK businesses and EU nationals, are starting the countdown to the end of free movement and the introduction of the new UK points based immigration system that will apply to both non-EEA citizens and those from EU countries. In this blog we look at immigration solutions for EU nationals.
UK immigration solicitors
London based OTS Solicitors specialise in all aspects of business and personal immigration law and can answer all your Brexit related immigration queries whether you are an EU national living and working in the UK, an EU citizen planning to live in the UK or a UK business employing EU nationals or concerned about how the end of free movement will affect your recruitment strategy.
The end of free movement for EU nationals
Whilst ‘Brexit has been done’ the UK is in a state of transition until the 31 December 2020. The transition period and the frequent media reports about the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the UK has left many EU nationals feeling in limbo and uncertain about their status and future in the UK.
Equally, the end of free movement and the potential reduction in EU citizens able to live and work in the UK after December 2020, has meant that many UK employers are starting to look at their workforce and future recruitment needs to ensure that they are ready for the new points based immigration system, all whilst grappling with the financial impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and the potential for further government imposed lockdowns.
You could call it a ‘perfect storm’ for both EU citizens and UK employers but UK immigration solicitors say that there are immigration solutions for EU nationals who are resident in the UK and for UK business owners.
UK immigration solicitors emphasise that the most important point at this stage in the Brexit transition process is that free movement for EU citizens will continue to apply until the end of the Brexit transition period. The cut-off date for the end of free movement is 11 pm on the 31 December 2020.
- Are already in the UK by 11 pm on the 31 December 2020 and do not apply for pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme by the cut-off date of June 2021
- Arrive in the UK after 11pm on the 31 December 2020.
The EU Settlement Scheme
For eighteen months the EU Settlement Scheme has been in operation in the UK. Under the EU Settlement Scheme EU citizens and EEA and Swiss nationals who have lived in the UK for at least five years can apply for settled status.
If you are an EU citizen or EEA or Swiss national and you move to the UK before 11pm on the 31 December 2020 then you can apply for pre-settled status if you don’t meet the five year continuous residence requirement for settled status.
What is the continuous residence requirement for settled status?
To meet the continuous residence eligibility criteria for settled status an applicant’s absences from the UK must be no more than 180 days in any twelve month period in the five year continuous residence period. However, the EU Settlement Scheme rules do provide for some discretion and say that if absences are in excess of the 180 day rule then in some exceptional cases the Home Office can exercise discretion and allow the application.
Can you apply to extend your pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme?
If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for settled status you can apply for pre-settled status. Your pre-settled status lasts for five years. If you don’t qualify for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme at the end of the five year period you can't apply, under current scheme rules, to extend the duration of your pre-settled status. Your options are:
- To remain in the UK subject to immigration controls and apply for a visa
- To leave the UK.
What are the qualifying criteria for a pre-settled status application?
To successfully apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme an applicant must be physically present in the UK before 11 pm on the 31 December 2020 as that is the end of the Brexit transition period.
The EU Settlement Scheme rules don’t say how long an EU Settlement Scheme applicant has to be in the UK for before they are eligible to apply for pre-settled status but it is important that an applicant can evidence their entry before the cut-off time.
Can an applicant lose their pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme?
An applicant for pre-settled status can't arrive in the UK just before the end of the transition period, leave the UK, and still keep their pre-settled status as if an applicant leaves the UK for more than two years they lose their pre-settled status.
Pre-settled status can also be lost if an applicant commits a relevant criminal offence during the period of pre-settled status.
Can someone with pre-settled status leave the UK?
If you secure pre-settled status but leave the UK for two years or more then you will lose your pre-settled status. However, an applicant can spend up to six months abroad in any twelve month period. If more than six months’ time is spent overseas then the continuous residence period is reset to nil.
immigration solutions for EU nationals
If you are looking at immigration solutions for EU nationals, and their employers, the simplest advice, if you are an EU citizen who is currently living in the UK and who wants to stay in the UK free of immigration control and visa requirements after the 31 December 2020, is to apply for pre-settled status or settled status before the cut-off date. That solution benefits not only the EU national but their employer. Without pre-settled status or settled status the employer would need a Home Office approved sponsor licence to sponsor their EU worker’s Employment and the EU national would need a work visa that would only be available to them if they meet the eligibility criteria for a work visa.
If you are not currently living in the UK but plan to do so then the best advice is to come to live in the UK before 11 pm on the 31 December 2020 if you want to avoid immigration controls and the necessity of securing a visa to live and work in the UK. There may be potential difficulties in securing a work visa unless you meet the specific work visa criteria. Likewise, for UK businesses, the best advice if you are planning to recruit from the EU is to do so before the 31 December 2020 to avoid the bureaucracy of sponsor licences and the costs to your business of paying for work visas and immigration health surcharges.
How difficult is it to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme?
Immigration solicitors are aware that some people have been put off from applying for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme because they think that the application will be a lot of hassle or because they fear that they may not be eligible. If you are concerned about making an application then you can use the OTS Solicitors same day Settled Status service
It is very much in employers best interests that any existing EU employees apply for settled status or pre-settled status as that way you won't need to have to sponsor them under a work visa, provided of course that their job role and salary qualify them for a work visa under the points based immigration system that is due to be introduced in January 2021.
EU national visa options for those coming to the UK from 1 January 2021
EU nationals coming to the UK after the 31 December 2020 will need a visa unless they are planning to stay for less than six months and not work whilst in the UK. That is because the immigration Rules will be the same for EU citizens as well as non-EEA nationals.
Some potential immigration solutions for EU nationals wanting to move to the UK after the 31 December 2020 include:
- Tier 2 (General) visa through a sponsoring employer – the visa is due to be changed to the skilled worker visa but overseas workers will still need a sponsoring employer with a Home Office issued sponsor licence
- Sole representative visa where an EU citizen is employed by an overseas business that wants to set up a UK branch or subsidiary of the overseas parent company for the first time
- Start-up visa or Innovator visa where the EU national wants to set up a business in the UK and can secure endorsement from an Endorsing Body
- Global Talent visas for those in specific industry sectors such as digital, technology or arts and culture
- Investor visa for those with at least £2million to invest in relevant investments in the UK
- Student visas for study in the UK
- Family visas to join spouses or children in the UK.
The EU citizen and their immigration solutions
Sometimes the best immigration solutions are the simplest. First and foremost don’t ignore the end date for the end of free movement. If you or your family or your employees need to apply for settled status or pre-settled status then you should do so before the June 2021 cut-off date. However, remember that you can't apply for pre-settled status or settled status if you haven’t moved to live in the UK before the 31 December 2020.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
For information on our Brexit and immigration services call the Brexit team hotline on 0203 959 9123 or use our contact form. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
- Business Immigration
- Innovator Visa
- Start Up Visa
- Tier 2 Work Permit Visa and Sponsorship Licence
- Business Visas
- Individual Immigration
- Family and Spouse Visas
- Student Visa, Tier 4
- BREXIT, EU nationals settled status, skilled worker visas and settlement
- British Citizenship and Nationality
- Settlement Agreements
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
We are one of the UK’s top firms for immigration solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, Spouse Visas, Student Visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, Asylum and Human Rights, British Citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, Entrepreneur Visas and Investor Visas.
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Posted on: Friday, 02 October, 2020