On 1st July 2013, the Republic of Croatia will gain accession to the EU. After this date, Croatian nationals will no longer be subject to immigration control. However, restrictions will be imposed on Croatian nationals which are similar to those imposed on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals.
The Government intends to impose the restrictions set out below but these are not final and are subject to change.
Restrictions on Croatian nationals’ right to work
- Croatian nationals will be entitled to come and go freely from the UK for a period of up to three months.
- In order to work in the UK, Croatian nationals will be required to obtain authorisation from the UK Border Agency. Once permission has been granted, they may continue to reside in the UK beyond the three months.
- Once Croatian nationals have completed a period of 12 months continuous authorised work in the UK, they will no longer be subject to the restrictions
- Croatian nationals who obtain authorisation and bring their family with them, their family members will not be restricted from working and they will not need to obtain authorisation under the scheme.
Exemptions to the requirement to obtain authorisation will be provided and these will include, but are not limited to:
- Those who are legally present in the UK on the date of accession and who, on that date, are not subject to any restrictions on working;
- Those Croatian nationals who are legally working in the UK on the date of accession and have been legally working for an uninterrupted period of 12 months ending on that date;
- Those Croatian nationals who work legally for an uninterrupted period of 12 months falling partly or wholly after the date of accession;
- Those Croatian nationals who are also a national of the UK or of another Member State whose nationals are not subject to similar restrictions;
- Those Croatian nationals who are also the spouse or civil partner of a national of the UK or the family member of an EEA national who has a right to reside in the UK, except where that EEA national is subject to work authorisation;
- Those Croatian nationals who are posted to the UK by a business established on the territory of another Member State.
Croatian nationals who are self employed will not be subject to the authorisation scheme. However, if they become employed they must obtain authorisation from the UK Border Agency.
The authorisation scheme
Authorisation to work will be based on the immigration rules in place on the date of accession i.e. 1st July 2013. This is known as the standstill clause and prevents the UK introducing more restrictive practices in relation to Croatian nationals than were present on the 1st July 2013.
If Croatian nationals intend to apply for authorisation based on their eligibility under Tier 2 and Tier 5, their employer will issue them with a certificate of sponsorship. Once this certificate has been issued, the individual will then apply for an accession worker registration certificate as opposed to a leave to remain/enter visa. The cooling off period will not apply to Croatian nationals.
Sanctions for non compliance
A Croatian national found to be working in breach of the regulations will be subject to a maximum of three months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £5,000. The employee can discharge the liability on payment of a fin of £1,000 to the Secretary of State.
An employer found to employing a Croatian national contrary to the regulations will be subject to a maximum of 6 months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £5,000.
There will an additional sanction when deception is used to obtain an accession worker registration certificate of a maximum of three months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £5,000.