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Getting ready for Brexit

With no clear picture of the impact of Brexit on businesses and individuals, how should practices prepare?

20 January 2020, at 9:00am

In preparation for Brexit, the Government developed the EU Settled Status scheme, open to EU nationals living in the UK to apply for either settled or pre-settled status depending on how long they have lived here.

These are as follows:

  • Five years’ continuous residence at any time in the UK = settled status
  • Less than five years = pre-settled status

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, the scheme will remain open until 30 June 2021 and allows EU nationals currently living here (before the end of free movement) to apply for either status.

But if there is no deal, the scheme will close earlier, on 31 December 2020, so EU nationals should apply under the settlement scheme sooner rather than later to avoid issues affecting their ability to remain in the UK.

Once the UK leaves the EU, freedom of movement will end. Any rights once held by EU nationals under the EEA Regulations 2016 will cease, and a new immigration category known as Appendix EU will apply.

If EU nationals have not applied for either status before the scheme closes, they will be considered illegal residents in the UK, which could have an impact on any future application to remain in or enter the UK, so it is vital to apply in good time.

How will this affect veterinary practices?

EU nationals who apply for settled or pre-settled status can continue to benefit from the same rights as British citizens: being able to work, study, access benefits and seek employment in the UK. Those who have been granted pre-settled status must apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires (usually granted as a five-year visa) or they face becoming an overstayer in the UK.

Veterinary practices need to consider how best to move forward in such uncertain times. One development is a new voluntary immigration scheme entitled the "European Temporary Leave to Remain” (Euro TLR) Scheme, which could come into effect if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Successful applicants to this scheme will be given three years’ leave to remain in the UK. This will give EU citizens who move to the UK after Brexit, and their employers, greater confidence and certainty during the transition period, and ensure that they have a secure legal status.

This will apply to those who enter before 31 December 2020, this being the scheme’s closing date. It is also possible that a new immigration system similar to the Australian points-based system will be introduced from January 2021.

Under this scheme, an EU citizen who spends time in the UK with a Euro TLR immigration status will be able to accrue that time towards the qualifying period for settled status.

It is still not clear how this will work in practice; for instance, more clarity is needed on whether applicants under the new Euro TLR can switch into the new visa system (scheduled for January 2021) from within the UK. If not, they would need to leave the country after their three-year visa expired.

In these circumstances, practices should consider applying for a Tier 2 Sponsorship licence as a long-term solution. This would mean they could recruit from overseas to fill positions that they cannot fill from within the UK.

Since there will be competition for the pool of qualified EU vets once we leave the EU, it is vital that UK practices look at solutions to attract this talent.

The fact that vets are now classed as a shortage occupation will make this process easier when widening – a job in a practice which has a Tier 2 licence no longer needs to be advertised in the UK for 28 days before it can be advertised abroad. The Tier 2 visa system is used for employing non-EU staff, so this widens the net further.

If your practice has not started considering its options, now is the time to do so.

For more information, contact Sandeep Dattani of Harrison Clark Rickerbys on sdattani@hcrlaw.com or 0121 726 7463