What is the change? The Home Office has published its statement of immigration changes to take effect next month.

What does the change mean? The most significant change will be the implementation of the second testing phase of the EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens and their family members living in the U.K. and needing to register post-Brexit.

  • Implementation time frame: November 2018.
  • Who is affected: EU citizens living in the U.K., and their employers.
  • Next steps: While there is no immediate business impact, employers should carefully consider how they will support employees when they register under the EU Settlement Scheme once it goes live in 2019.

Other changes:

  • Creation of a visa for children transferred to the U.K. as part of the Calais camp clearance who do not qualify for existing refugee or humanitarian protection status.
  • Revision of general rules on application validity as part of Support UK Visas and Immigration operational changes.
  • Specification of evidence for medical exemption from the Knowledge of Language or Life in the UK test in settlement and naturalization applications.

Background: The EU Settlement Scheme was announced on June 21 to offer status in U.K. law for the estimated 3 million European citizens currently living in the U.K. under the European free movement law and on the basis of their European passports alone. The Scheme promises straightforward online registration with a light touch regarding documentation. Those with five years of residence in the U.K. would be granted “settled status” (i.e., permanent residence) and those without would be given limited leave (“pre-settled status”) to allow them to get to the five-year mark. Applications would be made any time until June 2021.

Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules came into force on Aug. 28 to allow the live testing of system functionality on a limited group of public-sector employees. Feedback has been positive on speed and ease of use. The next phase of testing is now due to start in November, with a goal of looking at the system end to end and how it affects more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. Further changes are expected in December (for implementation in January 2019), and in early March 2019, so that the scheme will be operating fully by March 30, 2019—the day after Brexit.

Analysis & Comments: The changes announced this week are relevant to employers and European employees living in the U.K. to the extent that they provide evidence of the successful rollout of the EU Settlement Scheme despite the fact that the U.K. government is yet to secure an overall deal for Brexit (the Withdrawal Agreement remains provisional). The technology has proven successful in trial and applicants should be reassured that the user experience will be straightforward. Although the scheme is not yet operating, employers should work with their immigration professional now to fully consider how they intend to support their employees through this process and ensure that their right to work in the U.K. is documented.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.