Employers with European Union (EU) nationals in their workforce have a vested interest in actively helping and encouraging them to apply for settled status before 31 October 2019, in case free movement ends on that date in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
EU nationals currently have two options to stay in the UK; they can either apply for permanent residence before 31 October 2019, or a settled and pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme before 31 December 2020.
However, if free movement ends on 31 October, EU nationals who have not applied for or obtained settled status could lose the ability to demonstrate their entitlement to live and work in the UK.
Employers could be left in the very difficult position of losing valued EU national employees, not knowing whether they are compliant with duties to prevent illegal working, due to lack of documentation, and could be exposed to claims of unfair dismissal if they dismiss employees for lack of evidence of their immigration status.
For many EU nationals, confusion has arisen around which application to make, especially if British citizenship is something they want to achieve quickly and before Brexit.
If an individual can prove they have been a qualified person for more than six years, they should apply for permanent residence, as citizenship can then be applied for immediately upon a successful application. However, on receiving a settled status, individuals have to wait a minimum of 12 months before applying for British citizenship, as it is a requirement to have been free from immigration control for a period of 12 months before applying.
If citizenship is not the ultimate goal, then applying under the EU settlement scheme is the most appropriate option.
Blair Adams (pictured) is employment partner and Kezia Daley is immigration specialist and senior associate, both at Winckworth Sherwood