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The sections below provide a summary of the changes manufacturers need to consider in respect of the UK’s new immigration system and the new relationship with the EU as set out in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). 

EU citizens in the UK

What they need to do to under the new UK Immigration arrangements

What’s changing?

New arrangements for UK business visitors to travel to the EU on work-related matters came into effect from 1 January 2021. The UK not being a member of the EU is now a ‘third-country’ and UK employers have to navigate individual EU member state rules for their mobile workforce. Find out more about business travel in 2021 here

Settled status

The UK has implemented a permanent settlement scheme for EU nationals who resided in the UK before the end of the transitional period. EU nationals who resided in the UK before December 31st 2020 have kept all the rights they had in the UK as citizens of the EU. For example this means they are entitled to work, to study and to have access to public services. To gain this new status, EU nationals need to make an application and have until the end of June 2021 to do this, but they can take action as soon as possible.

The process to apply for this new status (which is called settled status), is set out briefly below.

  • The application is a straightforward on-line process,  with an option of a paper application for those who want it. There are also a number of centres that have been set up around the UK where EU nationals can receive assistance with their application if they need it here
  • The process is based on three criteria – residence in the UK before the end of 2020, proof of identity and a criminal records check. UK residence will generally be checked by reference to tax and social security records held by HMRC where the applicant provides their national insurance number as part of the application process.
  • Those with five years UK residence  at the time of the application will be granted settled status immediately
  • Those with less than five years UK residence will be granted a time-limited status called pre-settled status. Pre-settled status will itself last for five years, allowing further time for the person to gain their permanent settled status in the UK later. To do this they will need to make a second application after they have been a UK resident for 5 years
  • The applicant and their dependents and family members, will also need to prove their identities, either with a valid, current passport or EU national ID card which are in date at the time of the application.

The application system is open now and applications can be made any time until the end of June 2021.

Should EU citizens apply for settled status now, or wait until later?

The deadline for applying for settled status is not until the end of June 2021. There is therefore no requirement to apply immediately. However, applying for and being granted settled status, or pre-settled status now, will ensure that EU citizens have their rights protected. 

Having settled status will also in time make it clearer that those with settled status were UK residents before the end of the transitional period, and were not EU citizens who came to the UK after this. EU citizens arriving in 2021 are subject to the new immigration system and having settled status now is one way make it clear that the holder was a UK resident before the UK left the EU and therefore not subject to these new rules.

There are therefore advantages to EU citizens in applying for settled status now and not waiting until the deadline for doing so in June 2021.

Rules around UK residence

To gain settled status, an EU citizen will need to have had five years of continuous UK residence. In some circumstances, it is possible to lose their continuous residence status, for example, if the EU citizen has had a serious criminal conviction or has been absent from the UK for longer periods of time. The UK government will check tax and social security records if the EU national agrees as evidence of their UK residence, and if a five-year tax and social security record is confirmed, then the applicant will not need to provide any additional evidence of their residence. But they will also have the option to provide further evidence as well, for example, if they do not have a complete tax or social security record for the period that they have been resident in the UK. The type of documents that could be used to prove UK residency, other than tax and social security records, include utility bills, bank statements, the local electoral register and NHS documentation.

 “Continuously resident” will generally mean that the applicant has not been absent from the UK for more than six months in any rolling 12 month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12 month period. There are some exceptions to this, however. One single period of more than six months but not more than 12 months is permitted over the five year period, where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting. If the applicant is absent from the UK for more than six months (in any 12 month period), then their period of residence may be broken, meaning they will need to start counting again towards their five years UK residence.
*The above information is what Make UK understands of the information presented by the Government to date as of January 2021. Make UK will continue to update this information as and when appropriate

EU Business Travel 2021

The ability for UK business visitors to travel to the EU on work-related matters has changed. 

With the end of freedom of movement business travel between the EU and the UK will no longer be as easy as it once was.

Anyone traveling to the EU should ensure that on the day they travel their passport has 6 months or more before expiry and it must be less than 10 years old. It is essential that adequate provisions for travel and health insurance are in place.

In addition there are extra actions if traveling to the EU for business. This can include business activities such as traveling for meetings and conferences and providing services.

Check before you travel to the EU

If traveling to the EU for less than 90 days in a 180-day period, it may be possible to do some things without getting a visa or work permit, for example going to a business meeting.

However local rules and labour law will apply and companies are advised to check the local requirements in each European country before travel.

Border control

It is highly likely that upon arrival, border officials will ask for documentary evidence that will prove the reason for travel, the duration of stay and where the worker will be visiting or working. The type of documents that may be required again will vary country by country and according to their national law.

At border control, you may need to:
  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay
  • use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

Visa and Visa-free travel

While the UK and the EU have agreed for visa-free travel for short-term visits these must be in accordance with domestic law in the country you are travelling too. For many trips, business visitors may be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, individual countries have different limitations on business activities permitted. Entering under this provision does not allow the traveller to work but simply allows them to enter the country without a visa. 

Travel for both business and personal reasons all count towards the total 90 days in any 180 days. Individuals can monitor their travel with the EU’s Schengen Calculator. 

Calculator of travel days remaining under a Schengen short-stay visa – here 

A visa, work permit or other documentation will be needed if planning to stay, or have already stayed, for longer than 90 days in a 180-day period, or if doing any of the following:

  • transferring from the UK branch of a company to a branch in a different country (‘intra-corporate transfer’), even for a short period of time
    carrying out contracts to provide a service to a client in another country in which your employer has no presence
  • providing services in another country as a self-employed person

There are separate requirements for different countries in the EU and Make UK can provide manufacturers with specific guidance as required. 

For more information see Make UK’s International Employment Support here 

Note: You can travel to and work in Ireland in the same way as before 1 January 2021.

Advance notification 

Even if an entry visa is not required, business visitors and workers who travel to the EU may still be obliged to comply with the advance notification requirements of the country before they travel. Details of these notification requirements vary country by country and a list of country requirements is available here.

If the worker is providing a service (i.e. a posted worker) there are more onerous obligations to meet.

Make UK Support

For more information see Make UK’s International Employment Support here