Reviewed in August 2020. Content will be updated as negotiations develop.

The aim of information is to introduce you to the EU Settlement Scheme and the post-Brexit immigration scheme.

Let’s take a step back

What is a EEA National?

EEA (European Economic Area) nationals come from countries that belong to the EEA include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Countries that are EEA member countries but NOT part of the European Union include Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and you should keep in mind that Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market – this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If your application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status.

What’s the different in pre-settled and settled status?

Applicants can receive settled status if they have lived in the UK for five years or more whereas pre-settled status can be obtained by those who have not completed the five-year qualifying period for settled status.

What is the Common Travel Area?

The Common Travel Area (CTA) was established in the 1920s to give British and Irish citizens the ability to travel freely between the two countries. It is a free borders area that includes the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland. If you are a British citizen or an Irish citizen you do not need to take any action to protect your status and rights associated with the CTA.

What is a Frontier Worker?

A frontier worker is an EEA National who lives in one state (e.g. the Republic of Ireland) but works in another state (e.g. the UK). The “frontier worker” must return home at least once a week. The UK government has stated that Irish citizens do not need to apply for a frontier worker permit to continue coming to the UK (including Northern Ireland) for work after 31 December 2020.

Key Dates

Important dates for the EU Settlement scheme and the introduction of the post-Brexit immigration scheme 

30 March 2019

The EU settlement fully opened on this date. 

30 June 2021

The deadline to apply under the settlement scheme.

1 January 2021

The post-Brexit immigration system comes into force – details of which have not yet been published.

The EU Settlement Scheme 

  • EEA nationals (who are not Irish or British) must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, to attain evidence of their right to live and work in the UK.
  • The EU Settlement Scheme is open and is set to close on 31 December 2020 (if there is “No Deal”) or 30 June 2021 (if there is a “Deal”).
  • The EU Settlement Scheme applies to all EEA nationals who are not Irish (and if applicable their non-EEA national family members) who are living in the UK, even if they work in another EU state, such as the Republic of Ireland.
  • The EU Settlement Scheme is mandatory, and if an application is not made, the person may not have proof of their right to live and work in the UK. As such, this may cause issues for their person, and their employer, as the employer will not be able to verify the person’s right to work in the UK (including Northern Ireland).
  • Please note that EEA nationals who are not Irish and live in Northern Ireland, but work in the Republic of Ireland, must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. This is covered further later in this information with examples.

We have provided seven examples highlighting who is, and who is not, affected by the EU Settlement Scheme.

Example 1

Jaroslaw is a Polish national who lives and works in Newry. Jaroslaw arrived in the UK in 2008 with his wife, Julia and their two children Adam and Karolina (who are all Polish).

Jaroslaw separated from Julia in 2011, and has a new partner, Anastasia, who is Ukrainian.

In 2015, Anastasia, and her children Yana, Anna and Andriy (who are also Ukrainian) came to live with Jaroslaw in Newry.

As Jaroslaw, Julia, Adam and Karolina are Polish, they are EEA nationals. As such, they must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Anastasia, and her children Yana, Anna and Andriy are Ukrainian, so are non-EEA nationals. However, as they live in the UK due to Jaroslaw’s rights as an EEA National, they must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Example 2

Stefan was born in Northern Ireland, and has Irish nationality.

He is married to Christina, who was born in Northern Ireland, and has British nationality.

The couple have 1 son, Rían, who was born in the Republic of Ireland, and has Irish nationality.

As Stefan, Christina and Rían have either Irish or British nationality, they are not required to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, regardless of where they were born.

However, Rían, as he is an Irish national born in the Republic of Ireland, is eligible to make an application under the scheme if he wishes to do so.

Example 3

Yannick holds French and British nationality.

He came to live in Dungannon in 2015 and still works there.

As Yannick has British nationality, he is not required to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Example 4

Paulo has Portuguese nationality.

He currently works in Belfast but lives in the Republic of Ireland.

If there is a “Deal”, Paulo will be required to make an immigration application.

As the rules for cross border workers have not been fully confirmed, this may or may not be under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The position of cross border workers will be covered in more detail later in this module.

Example 5

Patrick has Dutch nationality.

He lives in Antrim, and works in County Louth.

As Patrick is an EEA National, who lives in the UK, he must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, to prove his right to live in the UK.

This is despite Patrick working in the Republic of Ireland.

Therefore, employers who are based in the Republic of Ireland should note that any of their EEA national employees, who live in Northern Ireland, will be impacted by Brexit, and must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme if that person wants to obtain proof of their right to reside in the UK.

Example 6

Ellen and Elaine are Irish nationals, who live in Dublin and work in both Dublin and Belfast.

As they are Irish nationals, who do not reside in the UK, they do not have to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Example 7

Martin is an Irish national living in Dublin.

Martin decides to move to Northern Ireland with his Canadian wife Shannon.

On or before the UK leaves the EU Martin does not need a visa to enter and work in the UK.

Shannon is able to join Martin, as his non-EEA national spouse.

After the UK leaves the EU Martin, as an Irish national, is not required to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

However, Shannon, as the non–EEA national family member, of an Irish national living in the UK, must make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The Impact of the EU Settlement Scheme on Employers

Businesses should focus on understanding their workforce – its makeup, needs and vulnerabilities.
Some important questions are listed. 

  • How many EEA nationals (who are not Irish) are in your workforce?
  • What is the risk of your affected employees not making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, and how does that impact on the company? (e.g. What is the potential cost of a loss of production/if your employees do not make an application under the scheme what are the potential Civil Penalty fines?)
  • What can you do to reassure the affected staff? For example, information sessions / on-site training.
  • What strategy will you adopt to assist your affected employees?
  • Is the business trained and resourced to cope with Brexit related challenges? (e.g. Are there sufficient resources in place to conduct a potentially increasing number of Right to Work checks? Are the skills and resources in place to apply for visas and to comply with sponsor requirements in the post-Brexit immigration system?)
  • Do you need to recruit/attain specialist support to assist affected employees? (e.g. Do you need external assistance to provide legal/immigration advice with EU Settlement Scheme applications or visas in the post-Brexit immigration system?)
  • What impact will the post-Brexit immigration system have on your ability to recruit staff?
  • What is the impact on your staff travelling from the UK to the EU?

The Common Travel Area 

The Common Travel Area (CTA) was established in the 1920s to give British and Irish citizens the ability to travel freely between the two countries. It is a free borders area that includes the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Employers should note that as a result of the Common Travel Area, Irish nationals have the right to live and work in the UK, and vice versa, British nationals have the right to live and work in the Republic of Ireland without immigration restrictions.

We’ve listed three examples below to help with clarity on who needs a visa and who does not.

Example 1

Suzanne is an Irish national who works in the UK. She does not need a visa to do so.

Example 2

Ben is a British national who works in the Republic of Ireland. He does not need a visa.

Example 3

Peter is Czech. Peter lives in the Republic of Ireland, and in February 2022 decides he wants to move to the UK. Although Peter is travelling from Ireland to the UK, he will still need to comply with the post-Brexit immigration rules, including getting a work visa (if applicable). Peter is not able to avail of the rights and privileges of the Common Travel Area as he is not British or Irish.

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