With the clock running down to zero, business has finally received the much-called-for reassurance that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, they will continue being able to access EU talent without additional bureaucratic hoops to jump through.
For months, there has been growing concern that no-deal could mean additional recruitment checks and processes that would hamper the ability of firms to hire the talented EU nationals needed for future growth. This has been a particular worry given the backdrop of skills and labour shortages from Europe, before free movement of people has even ended.
The paper has confirmed that in the event of a no-deal scenario:
- EU nationals arriving in the /UK after 30 March 2019 would have to apply for leave to remain after three months
- EU nationals already resident in the UK before 30 March 2019 would have until 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
But crucially for EU nationals seeking work, and for the businesses employing them, this will not result in additional checks and processes:
- Employers or other third parties, such as landlords, will not need to distinguish between EU citizens who were resident before exit and post-exit arrivals until December 2020
- The home office will introduce a Digital Status Checker in 2021, but employers will not need to do any retrospective checks
- EU citizens will still be able to use a passport or national identity card to evidence their right to work and rent in the UK until 2021
Once the new border and immigration system is introduced from 2021, employers and others will need to check EU citizens’ status using the Home Office’s Digital Status Checker, but not retrospectively. Until 2021, EU citizens will continue to be able to evidence their rights to work and to rent property using a passport or national identity card, and non-EU family members will use a biometric residence document.— Government policy paper on no-deal immigration plans
So, even though the paper states that after 3 months, EU nationals need to apply for permission to remain, in practice, employers only have to check EU passports.
The fact that a no deal scenario will not mean any immediate new processes for employing EU nationals will be a welcome relief to UK businesses.