With 3.8 million EU citizens in the UK, according to ONS figures, employers have rightly been concerned about maintaining a stable workforce in the lead up to and post-Brexit. Good news is however afoot.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that EU citizens will have to answer three 'simple' questions online (or via a smartphone app) to continue living and working in the UK post-Brexit. This sounds like good news for EU workers and their employers but what will the questions entail?
Apparently, all EU workers will have to do is to prove their ID, whether they have criminal convictions and whether they live in the UK. Their answers will then be checked against government databases and a decision given 'very quickly'. The Home Secretary is also reported to have said that the government's default position is to grant settled status and there would have to be 'a very good reason' not to grant it.
This is reassuring news for EU migrants and employers alike, although as always, the devil will be in the detail which is to be published in due course.
On what basis will EU migrants be able to stay in the UK?
There is reported to be two types of status that will be granted:
- Settled status - for those who have lived in the UK for five years or more by the end of 2020;
- Pre-settled status - for those who have been in the UK less than five years.
More details will follow regarding how EU nationals living in the UK will be able to apply for settled status to allow them to live and work in the UK. They will have to do this if even if they already have permanent residence status.
The process for making applications for settled status is likely to open towards the end of the year on a phased basis.
On the basis that a Brexit deal is agreed, any EU nationals in the UK as at 31 December 2020 who do not have five years' residence, will be able to apply to stay in the UK until they have in order to then apply for settled status.
EU nationals and their families who arrive between 30 March 2019 - after the UK leaves the EU - and 31 December 2020 can stay on the same terms, but they will have to register if they choose to stay in the UK longer than three months.
It is reported that there will be a quick online system to apply and applications will cost £65 for adults and £32.50 for children.. An ID document and recent photograph will have to be provided by applicants and any criminal convictions declared.
The scheme would remain open until the end of June 2021.
Employers with a large EU workforce will need to keep an eye out for further developments and may wish to publish information to their workforce, when it is released, to ensure that their workers know what they have to do when the time comes for them to apply.