The moving target of UK immigration policy: practical steps for workforce planning

January 7, 2017

UK immigration policy is a constantly moving target, amid the cut and thrust of the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU. 

So where are we now, and how can employers in the UK do the right thing by their EEA workers and ensure effective workforce planning whilst there is so much uncertainty?

EEA nationals and immigration policy: where are we now?

The UK government recently announced an Immigration Bill which will enable the government to end free movement of EU/EEA nationals into the UK but still allow the country to attract “the brightest and the best”.

The position of EU/EEA nationals in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is being treated as a priority issue in the negotiations for the UK’s departure from the EU. The British proposal has been set out in the opening talks but the EU has said it does not go far enough. So where are we now?

The UK’s current position:

What does this mean for employers in the UK?

It is likely this position will change again as part of the Brexit negotiations. 

Businesses in the UK which employ EEA nationals in jobs which are below degree level need to be aware that it is not possible to sponsor such workers under the UK Points Based System (akin to a work permit) and so they need to protect their workforce by helping them regularise their immigration status now.

Given the uncertainty, businesses may wish to encourage anyone from the EU or wider EEA currently in the UK to consider applying for Residence under the current rules, and Permanent Residence if they have met the rules for 5 years, to ensure greater certainty about their immigration position. Once Permanent Residence has been obtained, British Citizenship can be applied for a year later.

While such individuals may have to make further applications as immigration policy evolves, these Residence and Permanent Residence documents will be good evidence of their status, will assist in protecting their position and speeding up future applications.


How can we help?

We are expert in making the UK immigration applications required to lessen your risk and reassure your EEA national employees, with a range of cost-effective options.  Please contact Jonathan Martin on +44 (0)20 3051 5711 or at or for further information.


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