This site will provide you with what you need to know on how Brexit will impact immigration law and policy in the EU. We will update it as and when events in this fast changing area occur.
The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. A transition period was in place until 31 December 2020, during which time the benefits associated with freedom of movement remained in place (including the right to move and work in the UK and all EU countries, and unrestricted business travel). Citizens of an EU member state who relocated to the UK and UK citizens who relocated to an EU country before the end of 2020 may continue living and working in that country after Brexit, but should take the necessary action to protect this position. UK nationals who move to the EU and Europeans who move to the UK after the end of the transition period will have to comply with EU and national immigration rules, i.e. obtain a work permit. Restrictions will also be in place for business visitors, assignees, and cross border workers.
At Fragomen, we continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. Check out our latest guides below to help prepare for various scenarios.
Brexit in the UK
There are an estimated 3.4 million EU citizens living in the UK, exercising their right of free movement. Employers with EU staff must ensure that they have strategies in place to ensure that each impacted individual makes an application to evidence their right to live and work in the UK.
EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who were in the UK before 1 January 2021 may apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) if they haven't already. The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021, but late applications may be accepted but are complex. Family members of nationals of these nationals who hold status under the EUSS may themselves be able to apply for status under EUSS, depending on the relationship and circumstances. Frontier workers who were frontier working by the end of the transition period have been required to hold a frontier work permit for entries to the UK from 1 July 2021.
From 1 January 2021, any Europeans relocating to the UK, will need to meet the requirements of the UK’s immigration rules. A new immigration system is now in force and employers should ensure that they are actively considering how these changes impact their recruitment and retention for workforce planning.
In addition, any EU citizen business travellers to the UK are now treated as third country nationals, like American or Canadian nationals. They should ensure that the activities they wish to perform in the UK are permitted under the business visitor arrangements.
Brexit in the EU
Although the UK is no longer an EU country, immigration rules between the EU and the UK did not change until 1 January 2021.
UK nationals already residing in an EU country will maintain their residence and work rights in the EU country where they reside, subject to a registration process specific to UK nationals. Under the terms of the Brexit deal, each EU country can choose to honour existing registrations or to require UK nationals to take some additional steps, so UK nationals should be familiar with the rules in the country where they live. Read more about each EU country’s rules here.
UK nationals who moved to an EU country during the transition period (until 31 December 2020) will benefit from the same rights as those who have registered prior to Brexit.
Some cross-border workers registered before the end of the transition period will be able to maintain their right to reside in one EU country and work in another EU country. UK nationals regularly working in an EU country other than the one where they live, or living in the UK and regularly working in the EU, should be sure to protect these rights, as this type of cross border work will not be open to other UK nationals after the transition period.
Particular attention should be given to the post-transition phase. Immigration rules in the EU vary widely across the countries. UK nationals, as all other non-EU nationals, will have immigration limitations:
Business visitors will be limited to maximum 90 days in any 180-day period; their activities will have to be checked against all national legislations to verify if they are work permit exempt or not
Assignees and local hires will have to obtain work permits, which take between 1 and 6 months to obtain
Cross border workers will be severely impacted, as the immigration provisions allowing this for non-EU nationals are very limited
In addition, unless new rules on social security coordination are adopted before 1 January 2021, either between the UK and the EU, or between the UK and individual EU countries, UK business visitors and assignees will likely be subject to social security in the host EU country unless they can still benefit from the EU coordination rules because of their cross-border situation at the end of the transition period. This may create significant additional costs for companies.
How can Fragomen help?
With a project of this magnitude, you need an advisor who can see the global framework, provide a holistic view of the risks and opportunities that Brexit could present, and give you a voice at decision-makers’ tables.
We are well placed to deliver sound legal advice and help you understand what other businesses are doing to prepare. We have been working with businesses to help them prepare in a number of ways. As an employer, we can help you to
Limit the impact on your staff’s mobility in and to the EU/UK
Provide you with benchmarking knowledge, events and tools
Screen your EU/UK population to identify and track affected staff
Develop a communication strategy for your employees, to inform them about political and legal developments and the impact on their rights (e.g. in the social security area)
Conduct one-to-one consultations and give personalised advice
Develop strategies ensuring compliance continuity with clear timelines and deadlines
Discuss and re-think your future recruitment or relocation policies to avoid disruptions
We are working with clients in many different ways to make sure they are ready for Brexit in all its guises.
The most common types of services for clients with EU populations in the UK is:
Change Management Consultancy – We are here to help you devise and implement a plan to ensure all those entitled to a status to protect their pre-Brexit rights are aware and have the tools to apply . We can help you advise the business about the path ahead, identify populations who could get forgotten (such as business visitors, frontier workers and those on assignment) and ensure you have measurables to evidence the success of the project.
New immigration regime consultancy – We can help you conduct a gap analysis and identify issues that the proposed new regime may cause for your business. We can help obtain a UK sponsor licence and provide transactional support with applications under the new regime.
Town Halls/Webinars – We can deliver sessions to help your EU population in the UK understand what they need to do, what their family need to do and how to ensure that they retain their status
EU Settlement Scheme Surgeries – We can hold drop-in sessions to help your staff with their queries or process their applications
Project planning – we can run projects to identify those whose ability to convert their status from pre-settled to settled status has been impacted by excess absences and hold consultation sessions to strategically plan if further applications need to be made
Transactional services – We can run EU Settlement Scheme applications from start to finish, ensuring project management and expiry tracking
Communications – We can draft communications to explain the current position to your workforce or internal stakeholders to reassure and to educate
Content – Create bespoke help sheet for issues for your business such as international business traveller populations or those on assignment outside of the UK
Guides/FAQs/Videos – We can provide self-help manuals to explain the processes which are ideal for publishing on your company’s intranet site
The most common types of services for UK nationals in the EU are:
Change Management Consultancy – We can help you devise and implement a plan minimise the impact that the complexity Brexit brings across the 27 different immigration schemes in Europe. We can help you advise the business about the path ahead, identify populations who could get forgotten (such as business visitors, cross border workers and those on assignment) and ensure you have measurables to evidence the success of the project.
Townhall/Webinars for UK nationals in the EU, with specific focus on the EU countries relevant for your staff
Business Visitor Quick Glance Matrix – We are able to provide a quick reference tool so you can assess the activities that do not require a work permit in each EU/EEA country and Switzerland
Communications – We can draft communications to explain the current position to your workforce or internal stakeholders to reassure, educate, and provide general advice
Content – We can create a bespoke help sheet for issues that are relevant to your business
Screen your UK population in the EU/EEA and Switzerland – Assess their current situation, advise on the steps to be taken, triage them according to risk factors and proceed with relevant residence and work permit applications as soon as possible
Tailored visitor visa matrix - A detailed matrix summarising business visitor rules & restrictions across Europe, tailored towards the activities of your business
If you have any questions, our Brexit Task Force is here to help. Please contact us at [email protected].
Irish nationals are able to continue work and live in the UK and are not required to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. However, any non-Irish family members will be required to make an application either under the EU Settlement Scheme or the Immigration Rules.
Individuals may be interested in exploring whether they are already Irish or whether they are entitled to apply for Irish citizenship through their parents or grandparents. Fragomen can help with this.
Switzerland and the UK have safeguarded the existing rights of their citizen after Brexit: The Agreement on Acquired Citizen's Rights signed by Switzerland and the UK will come into effect from 1 January 2021. Under this agreement, both UK and Swiss citizens will retain the rights obtained in the other country under the AFMP before 31 December 2020.
UK nationals wanting to immigrate to Switzerland as of 1st January 2021 will have to meet the terms of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act FNIA and thereby be subject to work permit quotas.
The Federal Council has set a separate quota for UK nationals which will be valid for the year 2021 and released to the cantons on a quarterly basis.
2,100 long term work and residence permits B
1,400 short term work and residence permits L
The work permit quotas in the amount of 3,500 will guarantee the necessary flexibility for the Swiss economy, which can thus continue to recruit British workers.
Posted workers and self-employed, based in the UK, continue to be subject to the notification procedure for services provisions for up to 90 days per calendar year even after Brexit.
On 18th December 2020, the Federal Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom on mobility and extending cooperation on migration. Although not legally binding, the MoU underlines the close cooperation between the two countries in the field of migration and serves as a basis for future mutual support.
What should employers do now?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by Brexit planning. However, there are sensible, practical steps which should be taken now to ensure that all those who are entitled to protection under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement obtain it in the correct timescale.
Our latest guide contains a timeline of the steps to take to make sure your business is ready for the end of the transition period.
Ensure you are not working in silo. Brexit is an issue for every European jurisdiction. Ensure that all European offices are supporting UK national employees in the EU and vice versa to ensure that you are prepared.
We are excited to share our latest immigration guide, which we have put together to help you prepare for the new system which will come into force in 2021. The UK immigration system is fundamentally changing and these reforms will force many employers to rethink how they staff their business, what it will cost and where the work should be done. We want to help with those decisions and have produced this benchmarking paper, after surveying more than 500 UK employers. We hope you find the guide useful when you think beyond the pandemic to the new immigration regime. To receive your free copy of the report, please click here.
On 13 July 2020, the UK government published a more comprehensive policy paper confirming its plans for the UK's Points-Based Immigration System that will be in force from 1 January 2021 and apply to both EU and Non-EU nationals. This guide provides key messages, policy overviews and a timeline to help employers plan for the end of the transition period.
From 1 January 2021, Europeans arriving in the UK (and vice versa) will need permission to work and there will be a new UK immigration regime. Irish nationals remain exempt from these provisions. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, planning for your workforce post-Brexit must continue. Read our checklist on what you need to do and when, to help you get started.
Read our guide 'Moving My Workers Post-Brexit'. Produced in partnership with BritishAmerican Business, the guide features up-to-date guidance on the current state-of-play and key immigration considerations for you and your business.
On 19 February, the UK government published a policy paper confirming its plans for the UK's Points-Based Immigration System that will be in force from 1 January 2021 and apply to both EU and Non-EU nationals. This guide provides key messages, policy overviews and a timeline to help employers plan for the end of the transition period. These resources are provided for informational purposes only; as immigration requirements and procedures are subject to change, please contact our Brexit Task Force at [email protected] before relying on information included in these resources.
A new immigration system was implemented in the UK on 1 December. This is a single system for Europeans and Non-Europeans (Irish nationals will not need further permission to work in the UK). The system is slower and more expensive than free movement, but it may feel quicker where looking to hire a non-European. Although there are fewer hurdles than under Tier 2, the system still has significant complexities. Businesses should remind leadership about the time it will take to hire where immigration permission is required and the costs they may incur. Employers may have carried out an analysis of the impact on the workforce and educated key stakeholders. If you haven’t already read it, the below guidecan help you understand the specifics and put together a plan.
Fragomen can also help you understand the specifics of the sponsorship regime and sponsored categories such as Skilled Worker and ICT.