Immigration is never far from the headlines and there has been a lot of uncertainty for many people living and working in Devon and Cornwall. Immigration solicitor Lisa Mulholland and her team have helped hundreds of people navigate the complicated Home Office application process.

With the publication of the immigration white paper still looming, there is still much to be clarified in the UK’s plan for immigration post Brexit. What we do know is that the highly controversial Draft Withdrawal Agreement confirms that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK are likely to be preserved with reciprocal arrangements for British Citizens in the EU. The Agreement confirms that free movement will end at the end of the agreed transition period on 31 December 2020. In the event of a ‘no deal Brexit,’ free movement from the EU is expected to cease on 30 March 2019.

What does this mean for your EU national employees?

In unprecedented fashion, all EU nationals in the UK will be required to submit applications to the Home Office under the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to continue living and working here after the end of the agreed transition period. Those individuals who have been residing in the UK for 5 years will need to apply for settled status, whereas those who do not yet meet the required period of residence, will need to apply for pre-settled status, with a view to obtaining settled status later.

A pilot is underway to provide the Home Office with the opportunity to see how the scheme will work when it is rolled out, and hopefully iron out any issues before the full launch. The entire scheme will be implemented on a phased basis and will be fully open to all EU nationals in the UK by 30 March 2019.  We expect to see an influx of applications at this time; however individuals will have until 30 June 2021 to submit their applications.

It is important to remind your EU national members of staff that they need to submit applications once the scheme is open, in order to ensure that their status in the UK is registered in good time. This will avoid EU nationals falling foul of the law. This new scheme will also inevitably change the way that businesses carry out Right to Work checks on their employees post Brexit.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released their long awaited report on EEA migration in the UK in September 2018. The key recommendations of the Committee were as follows:

  • no priority should be given to EU nationals over non-EU nationals coming to the UK to work post Brexit
  • preference should be given to highly skilled migrants as opposed to lower skilled workers, with the exception of the limited seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme
  • abolishing the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (General) category, meaning there may be greater opportunity for businesses to offer employment to non-EU nationals
  • abolishing the Resident Labor Market Test

The key indication is that the recommendations from the MAC are likely to be adopted in the Government’s immigration white paper, which is due to be released imminently. At present, in order for a business to make an employment offer to a non EU national, it must firstly have a sponsor licence. There are also certain factors that must be considered before a certificate of sponsorship is issued to a prospective employee, such as the salary threshold, eligibility criteria and in certain cases the Residence Labour Market test if the relevant role is not on the shortage occupation list.

The requirements and process can be daunting to businesses and individuals alike, however with guidance and the right support from qualified immigration lawyers; it can be a process which can be incredibly rewarding.

Lisa Mulholland is a solicitor in the immigration team at Stephens Scown LLP. The team is unique in the region as it advises both individuals and businesses on all aspects of UK immigration law. To contact Lisa, please call 01392 210 700 and e-mail or visit