Get Ready For Brexit Campaign - The Immigration News

Get Ready For Brexit Campaign - The Immigration News

In September 2019, the British government launched the 'Get Ready For Brexit' campaign.  It included a website, plus social media and TV adverts.  It was designed to inform people and businesses about the actions they need to take to prepare for the UK leaving the EU following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

The original campaign was halted before the December 2019 general election and has recently been relaunched.  As well as the website and TV advertising, the new campaign also includes radio, out-of-home, digital and print information, as well as SMS and webinars.

The campaign has met with criticism.  Ian Dunt, the editor of Politics.co.uk and author of How To Be A Liberal, commented :

"The money we're spending is paying for infrastructure to conduct activities which businesses never previously needed to do when trading with Europe. It is a trip to the past, a time machine back to the most tiresome periods of our recent history. It's like coming home to find your partner has given up on streaming movies and decided to mortgage the house in exchange for a Betamax machine.

This change is being inflicted on businesses while they struggle under the pulverising impact of Covid-19. An Institute for Directors survey this morning found only a quarter of business leaders said they were ready. A third said they needed to know the new arrangement before they could prepare.

What goes for companies goes for people too. Holidays to Europe will now become more bothersome. You need to contact your vet if you want to take your pet over, make sure you have a valid passport, take out comprehensive health insurance and find out what the roaming policy of your phone operator is."

In this article, we examine what the campaign means from an immigration point of view. 

Travelling to Countries In The EU

British tourists will not need a visa if they are visiting the EU for 90 days within a six month period.  However, if you wish to live and/or work in an EU country, you will have to apply for a visa and you will be subject to that particular nation's immigration system.

From 1 January 2021, if you are travelling to an EU country, you will need to ensure your passport has at least six months left before its expiry date.  Furthermore, it must be less than ten years old. 

One of the biggest changes regarding travel is every person will need to obtain health insurance that includes comprehensive health cover.  This is because UK citizens will not be entitled to a European Health Insurance Card.  Failure to obtain insurance could see travellers facing thousands of pounds of medical costs if they fall ill or have an accident in an EU country.

If you plan to take your pet to your home in Spain or France, you will need to vaccinate it against rabies and ensure it is microchipped.  If the UK becomes a listed third country, the process to prepare your pet for travel will take around three weeks.  If Britain is not listed as a third country for animal purposes, you are looking at up to four months to prepare to travel with your pet.

EU Citizens Living and Working In The UK

If you are an EU or EEA citizen living in the UK, you must apply for Pre-Settled or Settled Status before 30 June 2021.  We have a wealth of information on this subject which can be found here.

Employers Wanting To Recruit EU Talent

One of the biggest changes resulting from leaving the EU is that employers will need to sponsor workers from the EU/EEA from 1 January 2021 as freedom of movement will no longer apply in the UK.

Organisations who already have an existing Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Sponsor Licence will automatically be granted a new Skilled Worker Licence or Intra-Company Transfer Licence.  This will allow them to sponsor the EU and non-EU nationals.  For consistency, the Home Office has confirmed that existing Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities will continue to apply.

If you do not have a Sponsor Licence and need to hire talent from the EU/EEA to grow your business, it is crucial to get the process of obtaining a licence underway now.  There is likely to be a significant influx of applications at the beginning of 2021: delays will occur, which could damage your revenue and strategic growth plans.

When budgeting hiring a skilled worker from abroad, you need to factor in possibly paying for the employee and their dependent family member's visa and healthcare surcharge (depending on how you negotiate the new recruit's package).  There are also some costs which will definitely fall to you, including:

Some EU/EEA nationals will be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge. Immigration Solicitors can advise you on the most up-to-date exemption list.

EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA nationals must meet the following requirements to be eligible for sponsorship:

  • A licensed sponsor must have offered them a job.
  • The position must be at or above the minimum skill level (RQF3 level (A level) or equivalent qualification).  Having a physical qualification is not an important factor in this requirement -the skill level of the position that is the crucial part.
  • Be able to speak English to a reasonable level.

The Resident Labour Market Test will be abolished; however, employers will need to show they are filling a genuine vacancy, not one merely created to allow a person from abroad to come to or remain in the UK.

Summing Up

The Get Ready For Brexit Campaign illustrates how all our lives will be affected by the UK leaving the EU.  For tourists, EU/EEA nationals living and working in the UK, and employers now are the time to gain an understanding of the changes and make the necessary preparations.

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