On July 1, 2013, Croatia became a member of the European Union. Now, Croatian nationals may reside in any EU Member State for the first three months of residence on an unrestricted basis. They may remain legally resident in that state thereafter, provided they are doing so as a student, self-employed person, or a self-sufficient person who is not economically active. Member States may apply restrictions on access to the labor market for a transitional period.
The United Kingdom has introduced such transitional restrictions. Under these provisions, Croatian nationals do not have an automatic right to work in the United Kingdom. In order to work in the United Kingdom, a Croatian national must first obtain a worker authorization documents, unless they come within one of the exemptions. Students are not required to be sponsored under Tier 4, however if they wish to work while in the United Kingdom, they must also obtain a worker authorization document before doing so.
Employing a Croatian national who requires permission to work in the United Kingdom and does not have it could lead to criminal sanctions for both the employer and employee, including a fine and/or imprisonment.