Guidance

Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members after Brexit

Information for employers on right to work checks and the immigration status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members working in the UK after Brexit.

Employers should conduct right to work checks on EU,EEA and Swiss citizens in the same way as now until 1 January 2021.

Right to work checks

There will be no change to the way EU, EEA and Swiss citizens prove their right to work until 1 January 2021. This remains the same if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Irish citizens will continue to have the right to work in the UK and prove their right to work as they do now, for example by using their passport.

You should continue to conduct right to work checks on all prospective employees to comply with the codes of practice on the prevention of illegal working and the avoidance of unlawful discrimination.

Check a job applicant’s right to work

When carrying out right to work checks that will give you a statutory excuse from a civil penalty, you will not need to distinguish between EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who were resident in the UK before or after the UK leaves the EU.

  • until 1 January 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will continue to be able to prove their right to work in the UK as they do now, for example by showing a passport or national identity card
  • alternatively, they may choose to use the Home Office online service if they’ve been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme but you cannot require them to do so. You do not have to check whether your existing employees have status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • you can view their status through the Home Office online service once they’ve given you their date of birth and unique share code. You’ll need to keep a record of this check

As is currently the case, in order for an employer to obtain a statutory excuse from a civil penalty when employing the non-EU, EEA or Swiss family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, the prospective employee will need to show Home Office issued documentation as set out in the legislation and guidance. They may choose to use the Home Office online service if they hold a biometric residence card or hold status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You’ll need to keep a record of this check.

From 1 January 2021, new guidance will apply for right to work checks. This will be issued in due course.

Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens if the UK leaves the EU with a deal

There will be no change to the right to work of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK before 1 January 2021 if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  • those arriving in the UK before 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they continue to have lawful status in the UK
  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK after 1 January 2021 will need to apply to the Home Office for status under the new immigration system

Find out more about carrying out right to work checks to obtain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members in the ‘right to work checks’ section.

You can share information with your employees about the EU Settlement Scheme using our toolkit.

Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who enter the UK before the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to live and work in the UK. The application deadline will be 31 December 2020 and there will be no application fee. You can share information with your employees about the EU Settlement Scheme using our toolkit.

After the UK leaves the EU, the free movement of people will end but there will be a transition period until 1 January 2021. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving for the first time in the UK during this period will be able to work for 3 months or less at a time without needing to apply for status. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who want to work in the UK for longer than 3 months during this period will need to apply for European temporary leave to remain. They will then be able to live and work in the UK for 36 months from the date their leave is granted.

Their non-EU, EEA or Swiss family members will also be eligible to apply for European temporary leave to remain. Once they’ve been granted European temporary leave to remain, they’ll also be able to work in the UK.

If EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members want to stay in the UK for more than 36 months, they will need to apply for a new immigration status under the future skills-based immigration system. Irish citizens will continue to have the right to work in the UK under Common Travel Area arrangements.

Employers do not need to check that new EEA and Swiss employees have status under the EU Settlement Scheme or European temporary leave to remain or differentiate between those who arrived before or after the UK left the EU. Find out more about carrying out right to work checks to obtain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty for EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members in the ‘right to work checks’ section.

New guidance on how to carry out right to work checks from 1 January 2021 will be issued in due course. Employers will not need to retrospectively check the status of EU, EEA or Swiss employees or their family members who began employment before 1 January 2021. Employers do not need to sponsor or pay for employees’ applications and will not be responsible for checking that their employees leave the UK when their immigration status expires.

Immigration to the UK from 1 January 2021

The future skills-based immigration system white paper sets out the government’s plans to introduce a new single immigration system from 1 January 2021.

Engagement with businesses, employers and other stakeholders across the UK is underway. The system will include:

  • a single immigration system for all nationalities, focused on talent and skills
  • a new skilled workers route open to all nationalities with no cap on numbers, no requirement for businesses employing high skilled workers to undertake a resident labour market test and a streamlined sponsorship system for businesses. There will be a minimum salary threshold
  • a new time-limited route for temporary short-term workers from low-risk nationalities of all skill levels with no cap on numbers or sponsor requirements. There will be conditions, including a cooling-off period, to prevent this route being used for long-term working
  • Irish citizens will continue to have the right to live and work in the UK under Common Travel Area arrangements

Visitors from the EU, EEA or Switzerland will be able to come to the UK for 6 months, including tourists and business visitors.

Individuals will be able to get proof of their status through a Home Office online service. This will show their rights in the UK.

More detailed information will be provided in due course.

Published 1 April 2019