With over 3 million EU nationals already living in the UK, over 1 million UK nationals living in the EU, and thousands of employers needing continued access to labour and skills from the EU to grow, it’s vital to be aware of the impact on both current staff and future hires. Companies that can support current employees will be more likely to retain them and considering future immigration rules should be part of talent planning and skills investment.
The UK's points-based immigration system came into full effect on 1 January 2021. The CBI and Deloitte have published a guide: To the point: the employer guide to the UK's new points-based immigration system, that provides businesses with practical advice on how best to engage with it.
The guidance on this page represents the information currently available from government. The CBI will update this page as new information is released.
Key challenges for business
How will the UK-EU TCA impact EU nationals currently working in the UK?
EU nationals who arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and secure their status under the scheme. Frontier workers will also be able to continue to travel from another member state, such as Ireland or France, to the UK daily for work. GOV.UK has more information about the frontier work permit.
How will the UK-EU TCA impact UK nationals currently working in the EU?
If you moved to the EU before 1 January 2021, you can find more information about working in an EU country. After 1 January 2021, you’ll need a work permit to work in most EU countries if you’re a UK citizen.
How will the end of transition impact hiring EU nationals in the UK?
EU citizens who arrived between 30 March 2019 and 31 Dec 2020 are able to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR) immigration status. This is a 36-month temporary immigration status, after which individuals will need to apply to the new immigration system which is now in operation.
There is no change to how employers do right to work checks until 30 June 2021. EU nationals can prove their right to work using a valid passport or national identity card, or their digital status under the EU Settlement Scheme. EU nationals who started living in the UK before 31 December 2020 need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 to continue living in the UK after that date. Either settled or pre-settled status provides the right to work in the UK. Employers will not be required to undertake retrospective right to work checks on existing EU employees.
To hire EU nationals entering the UK after 1 January 2021, employers need to obtain a sponsor licence through the new points-based immigration system. Employers’ sponsor licences can be used to hire EU and non-EU workers. There is more detail on the new system and timeline for applying for a sponsorship licence in the CBI/Deloitte’s guidance.
How will business travel change in light of the new UK-EU TCA?
Visa-free, short term business trips will be allowed for up to 90 days in any 180-day period between the UK and the EU for specific purposes. These include attending meetings, research and design, market research, training seminars and trade fairs, purchasing goods or services, taking orders, engaging in commercial transactions, and operating outbound tourism services.
Work trips will also be permitted for senior businesspeople setting up an enterprise, intra-company transfers, to fulfil a contract to provide services lasting no longer than 12 months and for self-employed professionals providing services.
However, there are numerous restrictions on these provisions, and anything that involves selling goods or services directly to the public requires an actual work visa. Even for those activities seemingly permitted by the TCA, restrictions may apply from member state to member state. Different member states have their own immigration regimes, which might allow additional activities or apply further conditions. Austria, for example, requires a work permit for market research. There also might be additional necessary criteria, such as a recognised qualification.
Employers should familiarise themselves with business visitor rules of the UK and relevant EU27 countries. You can also read advice about travelling to specific countries, including travel entry requirements. To find out more about going abroad for work, check the guidance for travellers visiting the EU.
From 1 January, businesses will have to obtain an Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa for EU nationals to work in the UK on work-assignments. ICT migrants can hold ICT leave for up to five years in any six-year period in the UK. For more information see page 44 of the new CBI guide.
UK citizens will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
What are the implications of the UK-EU TCA for the Common Travel Area?
The ability for British and Irish citizens to move freely and reside in the UK, Crown Dependencies and Ireland will continue. Additional rights to work, study, vote in certain elections, access social welfare benefits and health services for British and Irish citizens will not change.