Frequently asked questions

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In collaboration with our strategic partner, Capsticks LLP, we have produced these frequently asked questions on the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) and how it affects employers and staff in the NHS. Many questions cannot be fully answered at this stage, but what we do know, and our current recommendations, are set out below. Employers should note that the agreement issued by the UK and EU negotiating parties is subject to the caveat that 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed'. This means that while these FAQs are based on the current agreement, nothing will be finalised until the withdrawal agreement is drafted and agreed by parliament. 

These FAQs will be updated as the negotiation process continues.

Definitions

Article 50 The clause in the EU Lisbon Treaty that outlines the steps to be taken by a country seeking to leave the EU.

Brexit

The informal term for the UK’s exit from the EU, following the government’s triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union.

European Economic Area (EEA)

A free trade zone consisting of the member states of the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. In these FAQs, the term EU nationals includes nationals of both the EU and the EEA.

European Union (EU)

A political and economic union of 28 member states.

EU citizen

A national of one of the EU or EEA member countries.

EU Settlement Scheme The scheme by which EU citizens and their families can apply for settled status in the UK.
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) An immigration status granted to a person who does not hold the right of abode in the UK, but who has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on his or her stay and who is free to take up employment or study, without restriction. 

Permanent residence

The right to remain indefinitely in the UK once an EU citizen has been resident in the UK for five years or more. It will cease to exist following Brexit.

Pre-settled status  A temporary status which will allow EU citizens to stay in the UK until they accumulate five years residence to apply for settled status.

Naturalisation

The process of obtaining British citizenship following a qualifying residence period. Once an individual is naturalised, they are entitled to apply for a British passport. The immigration status of naturalised citizens will be unaffected by Brexit.

Settled status

The new right to remain in the UK for qualifying EU citizens that will effectively replace permanent residence following Brexit.

1. How will the outcome of the EU referendum affect our current staff from the EU?

2. Which of my EU staff are eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

3. What is continuous residence?

4. What action should I advise our EU staff to take now?

5. How do our EU staff apply for settled status and how long will the process take?

6. Some of our EU staff applied to the scheme during the pilot phase, how will they be refunded?

7. If an EU member of staff has British citizenship how will the UK leaving the EU affect them? 

8. We have a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals and have planned a recruitment trip to an EU country in the next few months, shall we still proceed with our recruitment?

9. What should we advise an EU member of staff who has applied for indefinite leave to remain under the current process and was turned down?

10. What will happen to an EU national who has already obtained UK residence documents, will these be valid after the UK leaves the EU?

11. What is the situation for families of our EU staff? 

Background - Brexit timeline

 

1. How will the outcome of the EU referendum affect our current staff from the EU?

When the UK leaves the EU, the UK and the EU negotiating parties have agreed that EU citizens who arrive in the UK before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020 will be able to continue to live and work here as they can now.

Free movement will no longer apply and EU citizens will be required to apply for either settled or pre-settled status via the Home Office EU Settlement Scheme. You can find out more information on the EU Settlement Scheme page on our website.

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will be unaffected and permitted to remain in the UK due to existing arrangements between the UK and the Republic of Ireland outside the EU freedom of movement.

For those EU staff who already have a valid permanent residence documentation, they will be able to exchange it for settled status for free. Staff who have indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK will not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The government has previously confirmed that workers’ rights will be protected by the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will convert existing EU law into UK law. It’s not anticipated that many changes will be made to UK employment law, at least not in the short term.

2. Which of my EU staff are eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

There are three eligibility requirements for EU citizens applying to the scheme. They must:

  • be an EU national or dependant
  • be a resident in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • have no serious or persistent criminal background.

EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for more than five continuous years will be eligible for settled status. EU citizens who arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020 but have not been living continuously in the UK for five years will be able to apply for pre-settled status before switching to settled status once they have been in the UK for five years.

3. What is continuous residence?

Continuous residence is where a person has not been outside of the UK for more than six months in total in any 12-month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences a person can make from the UK. 

A single period of absence of more than six months but less than 12 months is permitted where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

Any period of absence in relation to compulsory military service is also permitted.

4. What action should I advise our EU staff to take now?

The EU Settlement Scheme is open for applications.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, the deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021. In the event of a no deal, the deadline for applications will be 31 December 2020. Applications are free of charge.

5. How do our EU staff apply for settled status and how long will the process take?

The EU Settlement Scheme requires applicants to complete three steps:

  • Confirm identity using a passport or residence card. This can be done using the EU Exit:ID Document Check app, sending the documents to the Home Office by post, or by visiting one of the locations where documents can be scanned and verified. Applicants will also need yo verify their identity by uploading a photo of themselves in their application.
  • Declaration they have no serious or continuous criminal convictions.
  • Evidence of residence in the UK by providing a national insurance number. Some applicants may be asked to provide supplementary evidence.

Supplementary evidence may include: annual bank statement, a signed and dated letter from an employer or a signed and dated letter from an accredited college, a TV licence, confirmation of doctor appointments, etc. Further information about what evidence is accepted can be found on the Gov.uk website.

The EU Exit: ID Document Check app is currently only available on Android devices, however, the Home Secretary has now confirmed that the app will work on Apple mobile and tablet devices by the end of 2019.

If an applicant has been living in the UK for five years or more, they will be granted settled status. If they have been living in the UK for less than five years, they will be granted pre-settled status which can be switched to settled status on accrual of five years.

For those staff who already have a valid permanent residence documentation, they will be able to exchange it for settled status for free. Staff who have indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK will not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.  

It is not expected that the decision process will take longer than three weeks. In private beta testing phase 2, 69 per cent of cases were processed within a week. You can find more information about the testing phases on the Gov.uk website.

6. Some of our EU staff applied to the scheme during the pilot phase, how will they be refunded?

Refunds will be automatically paid to the account that was charged and an email will be sent to the contact address provided in the applications to confirm that the refund has been processed.

Information regarding obtaining a refund is available from the Home Office resolution centre.

More information on refunds can be found on the Gov.uk website.

7. If an EU member of staff has British citizenship how will the UK leaving the EU affect them? 

EU citizens who have been naturalised as British citizens will be unaffected by the UK’s exit from the EU and will be permitted to retain their citizenship.

EU citizens who have held a document confirming permanent residence for 12 months or more, are eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. EU citizens considering naturalisation will need to ensure that the rules of their home country permit dual nationality, and whether any of their family members may be affected by them obtaining British citizenship.

A naturalisation application costs £1282 for adults and £973 for children.

EU citizens who have legitimately obtained ILR do not need to apply for settled status and therefore an application for naturalisation may be unnecessary.

8. We have a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals and have planned a recruitment trip to an EU country in the next few months, shall we still proceed with our recruitment?

The UK currently remains a member of the EU, and the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK are currently unaffected. Therefore, existing plans to recruit and employ individuals from within the EU currently remain unchanged.

9. What should we advise an EU member of staff who previously requested a permanent residence document and was unsuccessful?

There is no need for your EU staff members to request a reconsideration now as they can now make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

10. What will happen to an EU national who has already obtained UK residence documents, will these be valid after the UK leaves the EU?

EU citizens who have been naturalised as British citizens will be unaffected by the UK’s exit from the EU and will be permitted to retain their citizenship.

EU citizens who hold other residence documents, such as a permanent residence document or residence card, will need to apply for settled status. EU citizens who have indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK will not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.  

11. What is the situation for families of our EU staff? 

Family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for settled status, after they have accrued five years' continuous residence.

Close family members (ie spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependant parents and grandparents) will be able to join EU citizens following the UK's exit from the EU, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020.

Children born to or adopted by an EU citizen after being granted settled status, will automatically become a British citizen if they’re born in the UK. You will not need to apply for settled status on their behalf.

Family members who become related to an EU citizen after the withdrawal date (other than children born or legally adopted after that date), will be subject to the requirements of UK law ie their spouse or civil partner must meet a minimum income threshold, currently £18,600.

 

Background - Brexit timeline

29 March 2017 The two-year negotiation period leading to the UK’s exit from the EU commenced. 
26 June 2017 The government produced a policy paper on safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.
7 November 2017 The UK government submitted a technical document on citizens’ rights to the European commission as part of the ongoing negotiations.
8 December 2017          UK and EU negotiators published a joint report recommending that sufficient progress on each of the three key withdrawal issues (including citizens’ rights) has been made to enable negotiations to move to the next stage. The conclusions of the joint report will be used as a basis for drafting the withdrawal agreement that will set out the terms for the UK’s exit from the EU in 2019.
21 June 2018 The government published a statement of intent giving details of how the new EU Settlement Scheme will operate.
30 March 2019 The EU Settlement Scheme opened. 

 

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