Right To Work In The UK After Brexit: An Applicant’s Guide

Before the pandemic, there was Brexit. Since then, Britain’s departure from the EU has led to many changes in employment rules for people from outside the UK. These changes can be confusing, so it’s important to know what they are and how they may affect your application for a new job here. To help you make sense of the new rules, we’ve compiled this applicant’s guide to the right to work in the UK after Brexit.

How Right to Work in the UK After Brexit Changed

Brexit hasn’t signalled the end for those from the EU working in the UK. However, since the Withdrawal Agreement formally ended in December 2020, new rules have changed the process of applying to work in the UK.

Before January 2021, EU citizens wishing to work in the UK could do so easily due to the freedom of movement granted among EU member states. With the UK now out of the EU, EU/EEA and Swiss nationals have to go through a points-based system, as required by applications from other countries. Acquiring a skilled worker visa will allow you to find work with a UK employer, as well as travel around the countries of the UK.

London commuters seen through the British and European flags
When the UK was part of the EU, workers were easily able to apply for UK jobs. Post-Brexit, the process is not so simple.

EU Settlement Scheme Exemptions

EU citizens who were already working and living in the UK before January 2021 could apply for settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme covers pre-settled and settled workers, defined as:

Settled Status

If you have lived in the UK for five years continuously, settled status grants the right to continue living and working in the UK permanently.

Pre-settled Status

Those who hadn’t lived in the UK continuously for five years before Brexit can remain in the UK for another five years. Once they have reached five years, they can convert to the settled status.

Most EU workers could apply for their settled status by 30 June 2021 if their arrival were before the 31st of December 2020. Anyone who hasn’t secured their right to work visa by this time face deportation.

Irish citizens are exempt from these rules due to movement agreements between the UK and Ireland. There are also some exemptions for:

  • EU nationals born in the UK who have a parent/parents or family members (such as siblings) with EUSS settled status.
  • EU nationals who have been granted a right to permanent residence in the UK by the Home Office.

British citizens living abroad are also exempt.

Proving Your Right to Work

If you want to work in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa. There are several requirements you need to meet to prove your right to work, including:

  • Work for a Home Office-approved UK employer who is willing to provide you with a certificate of sponsorship.
  • Your job must meet one of the eligible occupations listed.
  • You must also earn a minimum salary, which is dependent on the type of work you do.

You must have a confirmed job offer before you make your application. You will also need to be able to read, write and speak in English and prove your knowledge of the language when you apply for your visa. Aside from being necessary to secure a working visa, good communication skills in the English language will boost your personal brand and increase your chances of getting hired by a UK employer.

Overseas applicants with right to work in the UK
A typical UK company might employ workers from many different nationalities, but they must all prove their right to work in the UK.

About Spousal Visas

UK employers must carry out extra work checks to secure immigration status, preventing illegal working. If you’re married to a UK citizen or someone with settled status, you should be able to secure the right to work under a family of a settled person visa.

However, not all employers are willing to accept this type of visa due to the additional checks they must carry out. Employers are often also fearful of the potential consequences of a relationship breakdown on their employee’s right to work status.

Employers who illegally employ someone face a civil penalty. If they have done so without their knowledge, they will need all records and original documents to help secure a statutory excuse. The risks to businesses are significant, and small businesses, in particular, would want to avoid this happening.

When applying for a job, applicants should ensure that the employer accepts this type of visa. Not doing so could find you going through a lengthy interview process for a job you will never get.

Can You Work Remotely in the UK From Your Own Country?

More and more businesses embrace remote working, but very few employers are willing for their employees to work outside the UK. There are many reasons for this; the most commonly cited is that workers could be required to attend on-site meetings at short notice. Of course, this will never be practical for employees living abroad.

However, the most critical issue is taxation. UK employers could face reporting obligations overseas if an employee spends more than 183 days a year living overseas. Naturally, employers are reluctant to take on such unnecessary admin if they don’t have to.

Workers and employers also face issues if a worker decides to move or return to the UK. In this instance, the applicant may need to re-apply for a visa due to a break in residency.

Employee working remotely from an exotic beach location
The pandemic made remote working the norm. While it may be the dream to work from another country, the reality is not so straightforward.

A Few Final Thoughts on Right to Work in the UK Post Brexit

If you want to work in the UK, you’ll need to make sure you’ve done your research to meet the new requirements. While there may be additional steps to take to prove your right to work, it is still possible to secure work in the UK if you’re applying from overseas.

If you have previously lived overseas, but you can prove that you have permission to work in the UK, our recruitment consultants can help you make your next career move.



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