The UK has obtained its second extension to extend its exit date to 31 October 2019. This follows the earlier extension which extended the UK’s withdrawal to 12 April 2019 from 29 March 2019. This further extension, however, has various conditions attached to it.
The uncertainty of Brexit, unfortunately for businesses and citizens continues. It is unclear whether the UK will leave on 31 October 2019 as there is no clear agreement within the UK on its future relationship with the EU.
The EU, mindful of the uncertainty within the UK, has added various conditions to this extension. The European Council Decision of 11 April 2019, states that if the UK does not take part in EU elections by the 22 May 2019, the exit date shortens to 31 May 2019. The European Council will have a meeting in June 2019 to review the progress of the withdrawal process. Further, the decision expects the UK to continue facilitating the achievement of Union tasks until the time it ceases to be a member. More importantly, it excludes the reopening of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement.
The extension adds to the uncertainty of Brexit for everyone including employers and EU citizens in the UK. The exclusion of reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been rejected by the House of Commons on 3 occasions, is likely to form a major hurdle in reaching an agreement within the House of Commons.
This also means that whilst no deal has been ruled out by Parliament, it remains a possible outcome, as unless the parties extend the UK’s exit date, or revoke Article 50, the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019.
What can business do to reduce uncertainty?
The EU Settlement Scheme
More than 400,000 have applied to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme which formally opened on 30 March 2019, allows EU nationals to secure their status in the UK. This status not only provides EU nationals the same level of certainty as other permanent residents but gives businesses an assurance of their long-term stay in the UK.
There is no application fee for this application and most applications do not require the submission of supporting documents. The turnaround time for most applications is between 1-5 working days, and decisions are received by email.
Once a decision is received employers can use this link to verify right to work in the UK. However, it is important to note that EU nationals continue to have the right to work in the UK, and do not need to have Settled or Pre-Settled Status to work until either 31 December 2020 (if there is no deal) or 31 June 2021 (if there is a deal). This status however allows both employers and EU nationals to secure their status now.
At Clarkslegal LLP we have helped both employers and EU citizens in securing their status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. We can provide the necessary Android mobile phones and go through the application process to make the entire process simpler and easy to understand.
Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence
A key theme of the post-Brexit Immigration system is the requirement to have a Sponsorship Licence for EU nationals. At present, a Licence is only required to employ non-EU workers. The new system, which is expected to start in 2021, is likely to receive a surge of applications. In practice, as with the EU Settlement Scheme applications, we have noticed numerous delays at the outset of any new scheme.
Whilst we anticipate that this may not be the case for the overhauled Tier 2 Sponsorship Licensing regime, we recommend that employers who are likely to recruit from the EU or outside the EU, should consider obtaining a Sponsorship Licence now. This will not only allow them to understand and get to grips on maintaining and utilising their Sponsorship Licence but also allow them access to workforce outside the EU now. With the continuing decline of EU migration, this may be an appropriate route for employers to recruit necessary talent.
At Clarkslegal LLP, we assist a wide range of employers, including both large multinational companies and small & medium businesses in the UK. We can offer a tailor-made service which fits our client’s needs.