The UK Border Agency has announced that it is expected that Croatia will join the European Union on July 1 2013. The Border Agency has stated its commitment to applying transitional restrictions on labour market access to nationals of any future member states of the European Union as a matter of course and therefore restrictions will be applied to Croatian nationals. On October 18 2012 the Border Agency published a statement of intent with regard to the proposed transitional arrangements governing Croatian nationals' access to the labour market:

  • Work sponsorship will be governed by the Points Based System for those wishing to take on skilled occupations in the United Kingdom; this requirement will cease after 12 months' employment in the United Kingdom.
  • Family members will not be subject to the work authorisation requirement.
  • The requirements to meet the skills test will be based on the Immigration Rules in place as of December 2011 and therefore the skill level under Tier 2 will be National Qualifications Framework Level 4+.
  • Certificates of sponsorship will count against the annual Tier 2 General limit. However, Croatians will be given priority over third-country nationals if the limit is over-subscribed.
  • There will be no requirement to obtain entry clearance before arrival, but an application for an accession worker registration certificate will be required (this can take up to six months to be issued based on prevailing service standards, but this is currently under review).
  • The cooling-off period will not apply and therefore on the expiry of the accession worker registration certificate, if the Croatian national leaves the United Kingdom, there will be no requirement to spend 12 months outside the United Kingdom.
  • No permission will be given to take up low-skilled work under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme or the Sectors Based Scheme, but the Border Agency has asked the Migration Advisory Committee to undertake an impact assessment on relevant sectors.

The 12-month rule will apply so that work restrictions fall away after 12 months of continuous employment. Croatians who are legally working in the United Kingdom on the date of accession and have done so for a continuous period of at least 12 months will no longer be subject to work restrictions. The same will apply to those who work legally for an uninterrupted period of 12 months falling partly or wholly after the date of accession.

Furthermore, workers posted to the United Kingdom from a business established in another member state will not be subject to restrictions; nor will those Croatians wishing to establish a business in the United Kingdom.

Finally, graduates will be able to obtain a registration certificate confirming free access to the labour market, provided that they meet the criteria for a grant of leave under the previous Tier 1 (Post Study) category.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email (idesousa@kingsleynapley.co.uk). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.

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