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EU Citizens Working in The UK After Brexit

Can EU citizens work in the UK after Brexit?

EU citizens can work in the UK after Brexit but must hold a work visa if they do not have Settled Status or Pre-settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Changes made to the law governing freedom of movement following the departure of the UK from the EU on 31st January 2020 mean that EU nationals no longer have the right to work in the UK and cannot work in the UK without a visa. For EU citizens considering working in the UK after Brexit, there are several work visas options available, including the:

  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Scale up visa
  • High Potential Individual visa
  • Global Talent visa
  • Frontier Worker Permit

Skilled worker visa

The UK Skilled worker visa is a popular option for EU citizens working in the UK after Brexit, giving them the right to work for an employer who is able to sponsor them. Skilled Worker visa holders can live, work, and study in the UK for up to 5 years, and this can be further extended.

After meeting the ILR requirements, EU citizens working in the UK can then apply for permanent UK residency. Skilled workers can also bring their family members on a Skilled Worker Dependent visa and travel freely from and to the UK. To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, applicants must:

  • Have a job offer for an eligible job with an employer with a sponsor licence
  • Receive a salary of at least £25,600, £10.10 per hour, or the appropriate “going rate” (this can be lower for those with a job on the UK shortage occupation list, a Ph.D., under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training)
  • Meet the English language requirements

Scale up visa

The Scale Up visa was introduced in mid-2022 as a way of making it easier for UK businesses experiencing rapid expansion to bring EU workers to the UK after Brexit. The Scale Up visa is similar to the Skilled Worker visa explained above, but with some key differences:

  • EU citizens on a Scale-up visa can change jobs or employers freely after 6 months of being in the UK without needing permission to do so.
  • Scale-up visas are granted for 2 years and can be further extended for 3 years as many times as needed. Scale-up visa holders can also apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years.
  • Sponsoring employers must meet the criteria of a “Scale Up” business and be approved by the Home Office.
  • Receive a salary of at least £33,100, £10.10 per hour, or the appropriate “going rate”.

High Potential Individual visa

The High Potential Individual visa will give EU nationals who have graduated from a top-ranked university the right to work in the UK after Brexit. High potential individual (HPI) visa holders are normally able to stay for up to 2 years (or 3 years if they have a Ph.D.). This cannot be further extended. However, those who wish to stay longer can then apply to change visa type in the UK. Unlike the Skilled Worker and Scale-up visa, HPI visa holders from the EU do not require a job offer to work in the UK.

To make a successful application for an HPI visa, applicants must:

  • Have graduated with the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, UK postgraduate degree, or a UK Ph.D. or doctorate from a top-ranked university (this cannot be in the UK) in the last 5 years. The current top-ranked EU universities include:
    • Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland)
    • ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
    • Karolinska Institute (Sweden)
    • Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University (France)
    • Technical University of Munich (Germany)
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Have sufficient personal savings (£1,270)

Global talent visa

The UK’s Global Talent visa is an extremely flexible and beneficial work visa for EU nationals who are considered to be leaders or emerging leaders in the fields of academia/research, arts and culture, or digital technology. Global Talent visas are granted for up to 5 years, and holders can apply for permanent residence after 3 or 5 years, depending on their specialist field.

To apply for a Global Talent visa, EU nationals need to meet the eligibility criteria for their specific field. In general, this means that Global Talent visa applicants must have an endorsement from an approved endorsing body as a leader or emerging leader in academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology.

As a Global Talent visa holder, you will be able to work for an employer, be self-employed, become a director of a company, change jobs freely without seeking permission from the Home Office, bring family to the UK, and travel freely from and to the UK.

Frontier worker permit

The Frontier Worker permit is specifically for nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein who work in the UK but live outside the UK. Not only does this provide the ability to work in the UK, but it also confers the right to access public benefits and services such as the National Health Service.

To qualify for a Frontier Worker permit, applicants must have started working in the UK by 31st December 2020. EU and EEA nationals who did not start working in the UK before 31st December 2020 must have a visa to work in the UK. Frontier Worker permit applicants must:

  • Live “primarily” outside the UK – this typically means that applicants must have spent less than 180 days in the UK during any 12-month period.
  • Have returned to the country in which they live at least either once every 6 months or twice in the 12-month period if they have spent more than 180 days in the UK in any 12-month period.
  • Have started working in the UK while living in another country by 31st December 2020 as an employed or self-employed person.
  • Have worked in the UK (in employment or self-employment) at least once every 12 months since they started working in the UK.
  • Do eligible work – this means work that is “genuine and effective” and not simply for a small one-off task.

Frontier Worker permits are normally granted for up to 5 years and can be further renewed as long as the above criteria have been met in the period since last applying.

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