The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. Discussions between the UK and EU surrounding the withdrawal agreement have been unclear as to how the UK will exit the EU. Nonetheless, immigration policy continues to change and develop amidst Brexit discussions. This update reviews the current Brexit status and the development of new Immigration Rules that the Home Office published on March 7, 2019. Additionally, this newsletter highlights the impact of a no-deal Brexit withdrawal agreement on UK citizens living in certain EU member states, and equally, the impact of a no-deal Brexit withdrawal agreement on EU citizens living in the UK.
The UK Parliament has voted against a withdrawal agreement on two occasions: January 15, 2019 and March 12, 2019. Most recently, the UK Parliament voted against proceeding with a no-deal Brexit, and in favor of extending the Brexit process. Currently, Prime Minister Theresa May is requesting the EU to postpone Brexit and will soon travel to the EU summit in Brussels to discuss options for the postponement. However, all 27 EU member states must agree to any proposed postponement. As it stands, the UK will leave the EU on March 29, 2019 with or without a deal, unless a postponement is agreed.
Home Office Immigration
On March 7, 2019, the UK Home Office published a policy paper through which new immigration rules under HC 1919 took effect. Employers need to ensure that the proposed salary for jobs for which a Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned from March 30, 2019 and beyond meet the updated rates outlined below. Additionally, the new rates must also be met for indefinite leave to remain applications. HC1919 amends Tier 2 in the following ways:
- Salary rate updates in Appendix J: the new rates apply where the Certificate of Sponsorship is assigned on or after March 30, 2019;
- Wage inflation: minimum earning threshold will be £38,000 for indefinite leave to remain applications made from April 6, 2023 and £40,100 from April 6, 2024;
- Tier 2 General Cap Scoring – The current salary bands will be replaced. From March 30, 2019, one point will be scored for each extra £1,000 of gross salary. The amount will increase the number of applications that may be awarded monthly;
- Exemption Extensions: For nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics, and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science and mandarin, the exemption from the £30,000 minimum salary threshold will be extended until the introduction of the post-Brexit immigration scheme.
Additional Notable Changes
- New Categories: The Home Office introduced new Start-up and Innovator categories replacing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur, and Graduate Entrepreneur, categories from March 29, 2019;
- Tier 1 Investor: Tier 1 Investor application requirements will be stricter from March 29, 2019;
- Fees: Super Priority Service will increase from £610 to £800 per person.
Brexit With A Withdrawal Agreement
For EU nationals and their family members living in the UK today, this piece is largely irrelevant as they will have the opportunity to take advantage of a streamlined approach for remaining and working in the UK post-Brexit. However, if you are not within that category, the following may be informative. The Withdrawal Agreement, as it stands and if ratified, generally provides:
- A transition period for all UK and EU nationals, and their dependents, whereby the current status would remain the same in order to take the necessary steps to ensure their work and residence status complies with Brexit (the transition period would end on December 31, 2020);
- Arrangements for all citizens across EU member states and the UK will be similar with minor procedural or administrative differences;
- All EU citizens residing in the UK before the transition period ends will need to register through the EU settlement scheme prior to June 30, 2021 (dependents with a relationship, pre-dating the end of the transition period, with the qualifying individual may join them at a future date);
- UK nationals residing in an EU member state, before the end of the transition period, will likely be able to remain and work in the EU state provided that they register according to the uniform EU registration scheme.
Brexit Without A Withdrawal Agreement
A no-deal Brexit means that each EU member state would set its own arrangement and policy for UK citizens seeking to travel and/or work in that country, which could be significantly different among member states, following Brexit. Generally, UK nationals wishing to enter EU member states will immediately be classified as third-country nationals. Certain countries have already released contingency plans in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit, and we have identified trends among the proposals, such as, ‘grace periods’ which would allow individuals and employers to make necessary arrangements according to that member state’s registration scheme. However, grace periods and registration schemes will vary among member states, resulting in immigration inconsistencies across all EU member states.
We have summarized certain EU member state contingent positions below. EU member states have released only partial plans and decrees which must still be adopted into law. Please note that this information is tentative and subject to change:
Belgium’s contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in Belgium after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- A grace period between March 30, 2019 and December 31, 2020 which would allow for UK nationals and their dependents residing in Belgium on March 29, 2019 to keep their current residence and work status as EU nationals;
- Work rights are expected to be granted, but there are no published contingency plans;
- UK nationals wishing to reside and work in Belgium post-Brexit would be subject to a regime based on reciprocity with the UK.
Finland’s contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in Finland after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- UK nationals who have registered their right of residence and are residing in Finland by March, 29, 2019 will have continued rights to remain and reside without additional measures for a certain grace period.
France’s contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in France after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- A grace period between three to twelve months for UK nationals to apply for a residence permit;
- UK nationals residing in France for more than five years on March 29, 2019 will need to apply for a long-term residence permit;
- UK nationals residing in France for less than five years by March 29, 2019 will have the opportunity to apply for different statuses depending on their purpose of stay in France;
- UK nationals who do not qualify for a status will be eligible for visitor status, but no work status, provided they have the means and are covered by medical insurance.
Germany’s contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in Germany after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- UK nationals must hold a certain immigration status to continue residing/working in Germany;
- Germany will waive the need for UK nationals living in Germany to hold a permit between March 30, 2019 and June 30, 2019;
- UK nationals will retain the right to reside and work in Germany provided that their immigration application is timely filed and pending.
Netherlands’ contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in the Netherlands after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- A fifteen-month grace period for UK nationals residing in the Netherlands by March 29, 2019 to apply for a residence permit with the Immigration and Naturalization Service;
- UK nationals residing in the Netherlands for five years or more are eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit under the same requirements as for EU nationals;
- UK nationals residing in the Netherlands for less than five years will be eligible to apply for a temporary residence permit under the same requirements as for EU nationals residing in the Netherlands for longer than three months;
- UK nationals wishing to work and reside in the Netherlands post-Brexit would be required to apply for residence and work authorization, however, no entry permit would be required (an application for residency can be submitted after arrival).
Spain’s contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in Spain after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- A transitional period where UK nationals will be provided the opportunity to maintain their residence and work rights in Spain with their current registration certificates and ID cards;
- UK nationals and their dependents in Spain by March 29, 2019 may request a definitive residence document and will be issued a Foreigner Identity Card which will provide work and residence status through a work permit;
- Spain seeks to safeguard certain social rights, such as, social security, healthcare, and studies, among others.
Switzerland’s contingency plans for the treatment of UK nationals in Switzerland after March 29, 2019 generally provides:
- A quota amounting to 3,500 permits for UK nationals on local Swiss employment contracts seeking to enter Switzerland between March 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019;
- The total quota would be divided between long-term and short-term work permits released on a quarterly basis.
Preparing Your Company
Companies are encouraged to work with Graham Adair professionals to prepare appropriate strategies for EEA employees. We recommend that companies closely monitor their European workforce and update Graham Adair in the event of any employee/employer changes. EEA nationals in the UK should apply for residency now to take advantage of streamlined processes for updating their current permanent residency document to a new residency document after the end of the transition period.