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EU Nationals and Brexit

13 November 2019

Employing EU Nationals…what changes will Brexit bring?

Brexit has signaled changes for the many EU Nationals working in the UK. And with 33% of permanent staff in the dairy sector alone being non-UK nationals, this is a particular issue for agriculture.

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in order to live permanently in the UK. The deadline for applying is 30th June 2021 but those who apply to the scheme must have been resident in the UK from the 31st December 2020. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December 2020. EU nationals must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get a new legal status to prove that they have the right to remain in the UK.

The status given will depend on how long they have been living in the UK at the point that they apply. The rights granted will be different depending on the status awarded.

Settled status will be given when workers have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period. Five years’ continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you’ve been in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12 month period. If settled status is granted, workers can remain in the UK for as long as they wish and will also be able to apply for British citizenship, if eligible.

If they do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when they apply, they will usually get pre-settled status. They must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal) to apply for this status.

There is the option to apply to change this to settled status once they have got 5 years’ continuous residence. Pre-settled status allows you to remain in the UK for 5 years after the date that the status is awarded. If a worker reaches 5 years continuous residence and wishes to upgrade to settled status, this must be done before pre-settled status expires.

The process to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is online and accessible via a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
The information that applicants will be asked for includes name, address and details of identity documents like a passport or national identity card, and a National Insurance number.

There is no legal obligation for employers to make employees aware of the EU Settlement Scheme nor it is it your responsibility to check they have applied but with many EU nationals forming vital components of the workforce on many farms, you may wish to signpost the information that the Government is providing.

More information including the link to the online application can be found at
The Scottish Government has provided funding to Citizens Advice Scotland so they can support EU citizens with complex needs and details of this support can be found here;

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