Beyond Brexit transition – the impact on freedom of movement

Contact: Ed Bowyer
19 November 2020

What’s the issue?

During the transition period, the freedom of movement principle continues to apply and employers have been able to employ and recruit EEA nationals and Swiss nationals on the same basis as before Brexit. EEA nationals and Swiss nationals already living and working in the UK can continue to do so during the transitional period. Even if they were not resident in the UK at Brexit, EEA nationals and Swiss nationals have been able to rely on freedom of movement to enter the UK to live and work between 1 February and 31 December 2020.

Where are we now?

The end of the transition period at 11pm on 31 December 2020 marks the end of freedom of movement. EEA nationals and Swiss nationals who were resident in the UK at that point are eligible for EU Settled or Pre-Settled Status allowing them to remain in the UK to live and work. However, from 1 January 2021 other EEA nationals and Swiss nationals (except for Irish nationals) will be subject to the new points-based immigration system that is coming into force for non-EU nationals on 1 December 2020.

What impact does this have?

After 31 December 2020 there will be less flexibility and greater expense for employers who want to recruit EEA nationals and/or Swiss nationals who do not already have a right to work in the UK. Employers will no longer be able to rely on the freedom of movement principle when seeking to fill lower-skilled roles from outside the UK. Although there is an immigration route for skilled workers from the EU, employers need a sponsorship license to be able to sponsor a skilled worker under this route and the jobs offered must meet minimum qualification and salary thresholds.



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This article is part of our 'Beyond Brexit transition' series.