The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. The transition period ended on 31 December 2020.
The rules governing the new relationship between the EU and the UK took effect on 1 January 2021.
Set out in this quick guide are various options available to European nationals wanting to work in the UK.
Workers may be able to continue to lawfully live and work in the UK if they:
Worked in the UK before 31 December 2020; and
Have applied under the EU Settlement Scheme for either ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ status.
‘Settled status’: lived in the UK for continuous 5-year period (continuous residence).
‘Pre-settled status’: need to have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, can apply to change this to settled status once you have 5 years’ continuous residence.
Deadlines for applications was 30 June 2021 for most individuals. The application is done online and it’s free to apply. The application can be made here. For those who wish to submit late applications, they must be able to demonstrate ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by 30 June 2021. Further guidance is available here.
If workers have not lived in the UK before 31 December 2020, employers will need to obtain a sponsor licence in order to legally employ EU nationals, unless workers qualify to work in the UK in a different immigration route.
If you work in the UK but do not live here, you can apply for a frontier worker permit. This allows you to come to the UK to work whilst primarily living elsewhere.
The permit allows you to work, rent and access benefits and services (including NHS Healthcare). There is no fee to apply for the permit, and you do not have to pay the immigration health surcharge. However, you may have to pay to submit your biometric information.
If you’re a frontier worker, you’ll need a permit to enter the UK to work from 1 July 2021. You can use your passport or national identity card until then.
The applications are done online here.
UK employers bringing an EU-based employee to the UK to work temporarily should ensure that the employee obtains a certificate from their home EU member state so that social security contributions can continue to be paid in their home member state.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens are able to come to the UK without a visa if they’re undertaking “permitted activities” and not working in the UK.
The business visitor visa allows individuals to enter the UK as a business visitor.
It does not allow you to work and you can only undertake “permitted activities”, for example attending meetings, negotiating, and signing deals and contracts, attending trade fairs and carrying out site visits. Please note this list is not exhaustive, a full list of permitted activities can be found in the Immigration Rules here.
You must show that you:
Business visitor visas are granted for 6 months, 2, 5, or 10 years. However, you should not stay longer than 6 months at a time. Your travel history will be checked on entry and you may be refused entry. ‘Genuineness’ is key and caseworkers will assess this at the border.
If the options above are not possible, the EU national must apply for a work visa. The visa options for both employees and business owners are provided below:
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