United Kingdom - EU Settlement Scheme Application Deadline and Employer Obligations

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

The deadline for EU citizens present in the UK prior to the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020) to apply for leave under the EU Settlement Scheme is June 30, 2021.  In general, the application under the EU Settlement Scheme is handled by the individuals themselves. However, employers are obligated to ensure all employees have right to work, including EU citizens, as per the existing guidelines.

The Home Office has confirmed that it is not an employer’s responsibility to ensure their EU citizen employees have applied under the EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline (June 30, 2021). However, it is recommended that employers play a role in the process by reminding employees of the approaching deadline and action to be taken.

For this purpose, the Home Office has created and shared information in the employer toolkit available on their official website here.  The toolkit includes a useful simple presentation, factsheet, and a leaflet, all of which may be distributed to employees.

Employees with Existing EEA Residence Documents and Pending Citizenship Applications

We recommend employers make it clear to EEA nationals (and/or their family members) who already have documents issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (the EEA Regulations) that they must also apply under the new EU Settlement Scheme. Existing EEA documents will no longer be valid after June 30, 2021.

Additionally, an individual who has applied for British citizenship using their EEA permanent residence document or card must also apply under the EU Settlement Scheme by June 30, 2021 if British citizenship has not been granted by that date. Submission of an application for British citizenship does not extend a person’s immigration permission to stay in the UK, so an immigration application will be required to maintain lawful immigration status while the citizenship process remains in progress.  Please note where an applicant must attend a citizenship ceremony as part of the process, citizenship is not conferred until the date the ceremony has taken place.

Right to Work Checks after June 30, 2021

The Home Office has confirmed employers do not need to carry out retroactive Right to Work Checks on existing EU citizen employees after the June 30, 2021 deadline.  However, from July 1, 2021 onwards (inclusive) all new EU, EEA, and Swiss citizen employees hired must demonstrate their right to work either with their pre-settled or settled status, or with a valid relevant UK visa.  EU passports or any previously issued EEA residence documents will no longer be sufficient to show valid right to work in the UK.

For more information about the EU Settlement Scheme and application process please see the Home Office’s guidance (here).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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