EU Citizens & Brexit


NHS Education for Scotland is a forward facing, inclusive organisation, attracting international expertise and skills from around the globe. We greatly value the contribution of all our staff and recognise that many have a number of professional and personal concerns and questions following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU).

We are wholly committed to ensuring our EU staff and their families have access to up-to-date information, support and advice during this period of uncertainty. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be seeking clarity, establishing facts and ensuring that our EU staff are kept updated on developments as and when they happen.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has issued a letter to all EU and EEA citizens working in the NHS in Scotland to provide an update and offer some reassurances at this difficult time. Please click here to view this letter.

We have compiled the following sources of advice and support to enable us to keep you up-to-date.

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If your application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status. All information regarding this can be found on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

Except in a few cases, you need to apply if:

  • you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but your family member is

British citizens cannot apply. Irish citizens do not need to apply but may do so if they wish.

The deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You can apply using any device, for example, a laptop, Android device or iPhone. The Settlement Scheme is free to apply to. If you paid a fee when you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme during the test phase, you can apply to get a refund.

Further information regarding how to apply can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status

The First Minister has written an open letter  (https://www.gov.scot/publications/first-ministers-letter-to-eu-citizens-in-scotland/) to all EU citizens in Scotland, telling you how much the Scottish Government values your contribution and urging you to stay in Scotland. As well as publicly stating their desire for EU citizens to remain in Scotland, the Scottish Government has produced a Stay in Scotland package of practical support and advice which can be found at www.gov.scot/stayinscotland.

It includes:

  • £250,000 of dedicated resource for community based support across Scotland
  • a support and advice service for EU citizens with more complex needs or particular challenges. This is currently being rolled out with more information available at: www.cas.org.uk/brexit
  • a ‘Stay in Scotland’ toolkit to support EU citizens and employers with EU staff which includes a poster, a factsheet, digital content and guides

The ‘Stay in Scotland’ toolkit

The toolkit provides a range of materials EU citizens. It includes information on the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme, details of the application process and requirements and links to other resources. You can download the contents of the toolkit below.

Guide for EU Citizens

Factsheet

Leaflet

 

*        The European Economic Area (EEA) includes EU countries plus Iceland,   Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market and therefore Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

  1. Support for NHS staff affected by Brexit

​This guidance note has been prepared to provide advice to members of staff from the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and their families, as we approach Brexit.

Following the EU referendum result in June 2016, the Director-General Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland, Paul Gray, wrote to all NHS Scotland Boards, emphasising the value he places on all staff, regardless of nationality. He followed this up with a further letter, in July 2017, in which he drew attention to information and guidance being made available on the Scottish Government website.

​As the UK moves towards leaving the EU, we NHS Education for Scotland are committed to supporting all staff affected by Brexit.  We are therefore providing this guidance to help EU/EEA staff and those affected by the Brexit vote.

We will provide further updates and clarity as Brexit discussions progress.

  1. Keeping up-to-date

NHS staff can keep up-to-date with developments around the UK-EU negotiations and EU citizens' rights by:

  1. NHS Scotland staff concerned about Brexit

The outcome of the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union is about to change the status of all non-UK EU/EEA nationals living in the UK. This has caused significant concern and distress for a considerable number of NHS staff who are directly or indirectly affected by these changes.

You may be affected by the EU Referendum outcome, for example because you are:

  • a non-UK EU/EEA country citizen
  • a dual citizen
  • an Irish, Maltese or Cypriot citizen who has a different status to other EU citizens in the UK
  • a UK citizen who has close family members holding EU/EEA citizenship
  • a non-UK, non-EU/EEA citizen who is the family member of an EU/EEA citizen

Given the multitude of personal and family circumstances, Brexit may present you with a range of different challenges or concerns.

Accessing support

In the first place, you should look to your manager to provide appropriate support, empathy and understanding. Regular conversations with your manager are an opportunity to have honest and open conversations about the impact Brexit is having on you. Staff members affected by Brexit can use this time to raise any issues you think your manager should be aware of and, if appropriate, look for ways to address these issues in the context of the workplace.

Processes around the EU Exit settlement scheme, citizenship or immigration may be stressful and onerous for EU and EEA staff and their partners and dependants. In line with the general approach set out in the national Supporting the Work Life Balance PIN policy, your manager has been encouraged to take a flexible and facilitative approach in responding to reasonable requests for either annual leave or flexible working to deal with the bureaucratic elements of Brexit.

  1. Right to live and work in the UK - key terms

EU/EEA national staff obtain their right to reside/work in the UK from EU law. The UK's withdrawal from the European Union understandably raises concerns for EU/EEA nationals because EU law will no longer apply to the UK.  We are aware that many EU/EEA nationals colleagues are taking a number of steps to secure their status in the UK.

Below is an explanation of some of the key terms you may need to use when discussing your status:

Permanent residency

EU/EEA nationals qualify for permanent residence after five years of living in the UK - subject to meeting certain conditions. Permanent residence gives them the right to live permanently in the UK, but can be lost if they are absent from the country for over two years.

EU Exit Settlement Scheme or ‘Settled Status’

During withdrawal negotiations, the UK and EU27 agreed a joint technical note at negotiator level on citizens' rights, reaching consensus on a number of areas. The UK plans to introduce a new settlement scheme. EU citizens and their family members wanting to remain in the UK will have to apply to get their status regularised.

The EU Settlement Scheme is now open and information regarding this can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

Naturalisation

After obtaining permanent residency, applicants can apply to naturalise as British citizens. This requires applicants to sit the Life in the UK Test and pass a language test, as well as collecting some documentation. 

Making a residency or citizenship application can be long and time-consuming, with individuals needing to take time off to sit a test, travel to other cities (or countries) to collect documents, or attend legal appointments. There are financial implications to consider when making an application which can cause worries to members of staff and their families. For example a naturalisation application costs in excess of £1000.

  1. Settled status costs and documentation

The Settlement Scheme is free to apply to. If you paid a fee when you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme during the test phase, you can apply to get a refund.

  1. Handling documentation requests

NHS Scotland will endeavour to have procedures in place in time to provide staff with the documentation they need to support any permanent residency or citizenship applications. Staff should make requests for documentation directly to HR Departments within their Boards.

Staff in need of legal advice specific to immigration law may wish to visit the Law Society Scotland’s website. Here you will find details of solicitors throughout Scotland who are able to provide specialist immigration advice.

Further advice on Immigration can be found through the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). The OISC regulates immigration advice and services under the Immigration and Assylum Act 1999 and can provide details on registered immigration advisers.

Staff applying for UK permanent residence and/or British Citizenship can request a letter detailing the essential information they require for their applications. In order to support UKVI applications, this can include duplicate P60s and duplicate monthly pay information. If this level of detail is required, staff must stipulate which 5 year continuous period they are relying on to demonstrate evidence of UK residency. Staff should allow at least 10 working days turn around for such requests and factor this into their residency/citizenship application process.

Requests should be made by writing to your line manger to allow this to be facilitated with HR.

As negotiations continue, it is important to keep abreast with the process. With this in mind, we have developed an e-mail account where you can register to receive the latest updates straight to your inbox. If you want to receive updates and be kept informed of developments, please e-mail this account to register your interest and you will be added to the circulation list.

The UK Government has a webpage with the latest information on the EU. Immigration is fully reserved to the UK Government and the webpage includes the UK Government’s policy paper “Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens in the UK and UK Nationals in the EU”. The paper sets out the UK Government’s offer to EU citizens in the UK and provides details on how to apply for a residence document.

You can choose to sign up for information through the Home Office.

The Scottish Government has published a response to the UK Government’s policy paper, entitled: “Protecting the Rights of EU Citizens: Scottish Government Response to UK Government Citizens’ Rights Paper”. The Scottish Government also has information for anyone with concerns or questions on citizenship and residency.  

Paul Gray, Chief Executive for NHS Scotland has written to NHS Boards to outline the Scottish Government’s priority is to ensure that individuals’ rights and place in Scotland are protected, as well as offering information and assistance.

Staff can also view the Department for Exiting the European Union website for the latest information and position papers.

TalentScotland is part of Scotland’s economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, and provides general information through their website about living and working in Scotland. Information on British citizenship requirements and residency for EU and EEA nationals has been added, and this includes signposting to relevant Home Office guidance and application forms. Please note, TalentScotland cannot provide legal or immigration advice to individuals on their personal circumstances. However, as this is a complex legal area, links are provided to immigration specialists who are qualified to provide professional advice. 

Introduction

This guidance note has been prepared to help managers provide support to members of staff from the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and their families, as we approach Brexit.

Following the EU referendum result in June 2016, the Director-General Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland, Paul Gray, wrote to all NHS Scotland Boards, emphasising the value he places on all staff, regardless of nationality. He followed this up with a further letter, in July 2017, in which he drew attention to information and guidance being made available on the Scottish Government website.

​As the UK moves towards leaving the EU, we NHS Education for Scotland are committed to supporting all staff affected by Brexit.  We are therefore providing this guidance to managers so that they can support EU/EEA staff and those affected by the Brexit vote.

We will provide further updates and clarity as Brexit discussions progress.

  1. Keeping up-to-date

NHS Scotland staff can keep up-to-date with developments around the UK-EU negotiations and EU citizens' rights by:

  1. Managing NHS Scotland colleagues concerned about Brexit

The outcome of the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union is about to change the status of all non-UK EU/EEA nationals living in the UK. This has caused significant concern and distress for a considerable number of NHS Scotland staff who are directly or indirectly affected by these changes.

As a manager, you may be working with a colleague who has been affected by the EU Referendum outcome, for example:

  • a non-UK EU/EEA country citizen
  • a dual citizen
  • an Irish, Maltese or Cypriot citizen who has a different status to other EU citizens in the UK
  • a UK citizen who has close family members holding EU/EEA citizenship
  • a non-UK, non-EEA citizen who is the family member of an EU/EEA citizen

Given the multitude of personal and family circumstances, you should take into account that Brexit may present different challenges or concerns for your colleagues.

How to provide support

Managers should provide appropriate support using empathy and understanding. Regular conversations between managers and staff are an opportunity to have honest and open conversations about the impact Brexit is having on them. Staff members affected by Brexit can use this time to raise any issues that they think you should be aware of and, if appropriate, address in the context of the workplace. 

Processes around the EU exit settlement scheme, citizenship or immigration may be stressful and onerous for colleagues and their partners and dependants. In line with the general approach set out in the national ‘Supporting the Work Life Balance PIN policy’, managers are encouraged to take a flexible and facilitative approach in responding positively to reasonable requests from EU/EEA nationals for either annual leave or flexible working to deal with the bureaucratic elements of Brexit.

  1. Right to live and work in the UK - key terms

EU/EEA national colleagues obtain their right to reside/work in the UK from EU law. The UK's withdrawal from the European Union raises concerns for EU/EEA nationals because EU law will no longer apply to the UK.  Many EU/EEA nationals colleagues are taking a number of steps to secure their status in the UK.

Below is an explanation of some of the key terms EU/EEA nationals may use when discussing their status:

Permanent residency

EU/EEA nationals qualify for permanent residence after five years of living in the UK - subject to meeting certain conditions. Permanent residence gives them the right to live permanently in the UK, but can be lost if they are absent from the country for over two years.

EU Exit Settlement Scheme or ‘Settled Status’

During withdrawal negotiations, the UK and EU27 agreed a joint technical note on citizens' rights at negotiator level, reaching consensus on a number of areas. The UK plans to introduce a new settlement scheme. EU citizens and their family members wanting to remain in the UK will have to apply to get their status regularised.

The EU Settlement Scheme is now open and information regarding this can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families.

Naturalisation

After obtaining permanent residency, applicants can apply to naturalise as British citizens. This requires applicants to sit the Life in the UK Test and pass a language test, as well as collecting some documentation. 

Making a residency or citizenship application can be long and time-consuming, with individuals needing to take time off to sit a test, travel to other cities (or countries) to collect documents, or attend legal appointments. There are financial implications to consider when making an application which can cause worries to members of staff and their families. For example a naturalisation application costs in excess of £1000.

  1. Settled status costs and documentation

The Settlement Scheme is free to apply to. If you paid a fee when you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme during the test phase, you can apply to get a refund.

Handling documentation requests

We will endeavour to have procedures in place in time to provide staff with the documentation they need to support any permanent residency or citizenship applications.

1. How will the outcome of the EU referendum affect our current staff from the EU?

When the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, the UK and the EU negotiating parties have agreed that EU citizens who arrive in the UK before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020 will be able to continue to live and work here as they can now.

Free movement will no longer apply after 30 December 2020 and EU citizens will be required to apply for either settled status or pre-settled status via the Home Office EU settlement scheme.

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will be unaffected and permitted to remain in the UK due to existing arrangements between the UK and the Republic of Ireland outside the EU freedom of movement.

The government has previously confirmed that workers’ rights will be protected by the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will convert existing EU law into UK law. It’s not anticipated that many changes will be made to UK employment law, at least not in the short term.

2. Which of my EU staff will be eligible for settled status?

There are three eligibility requirements for EU citizens applying for settled status. They must:

  •  be an EU national or dependant
  •  have continuously lived in the UK for five years or more by 31 December 2020
  •  have no serious or persistent criminal background.

EU citizens who arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020 but have not been living continuously in the UK for five years will be able to apply for pre-settled status before switching to settled status once they have been in the UK for five years. The second application will be free of charge.

3. What is continuous residence?

Continuous residence is where a person has not been outside of the UK for more than six months in total in any 12 month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences a person can make from the UK.

A single period of absence of more than six months but less than 12 months is permitted where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

Any period of absence in relation to compulsory military service is also permitted.

4. What action should I advise our EU staff to take now?

The Home Office has published details of its new EU settlement scheme. The scheme opened using a phased approached late in 2018 and will be fully operational by 30 March 2019 and will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for settled status.

Employees are advised not to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) under the current system. The current system for making ILR applications is complex and lengthy, and it is intended that the EU settlement scheme will be considerably simpler.

5. How will our EU staff apply for settled status and how long will the process take?

The Home Office advises that the application will be quick, easy and user friendly and completed in four steps:

  •  Confirmation of identity using a passport or residence card. This can be done using an android app or by sending the documents to the Home Office.
  •  Declaration they have no serious or continuous criminal convictions.
  •  Evidence of residence in the UK. It is expected this will be done by providing a national insurance number so will be automatic for most people. Some applicants may be asked to provide supplementary evidence.

Supplementary evidence may include: annual bank statement, a signed and dated letter from an employer or a signed and dated letter from an accredited college, TV licence, confirmation of doctor appointments etc.

If an applicant has been living in the UK for five years or more, they will be granted settled status. If they have been living in the UK for less than five years, they will be granted pre-settled status which can be switched to settled status free of charge on accrual of five years.

Individuals who already have valid permanent residence or ILR documentation will be able to exchange it for settled status, free of charge.

Following the announcement on the 21 January 2019, fees previously associated with the application for Settled Status has been abolished. There are now no costs associated with this application.

6. If an EU member of staff has British citizenship how will the UK leaving the EU affect them?

EU citizens who have been naturalised as British citizens will be unaffected by the UK’s exit from the EU and will be permitted to retain their citizenship.

EU citizens, who have held a document confirming permanent residence for 12 months or more, are eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. EU citizens considering naturalisation will need to ensure that the rules of their home country permit dual nationality, and whether any of their family members may be affected by them obtaining British citizenship.

A naturalisation application costs £1282 for adults and £973 for children.

EU citizens who have legitimately obtained ILR will be guaranteed settled status once the new system is in place and therefore an application for naturalisation may be unnecessary.

7.  What should we advise an EU member of staff who previously requested a permanent residence document and was unsuccessful?

There is no need for your EU staff members to request a reconsideration now as the government has confirmed that until the UK exits the EU, EU citizens that are resident in the UK will continue to benefit from their existing rights to live and work here. Following the UK’s exit from the EU, the individual will need to make a new application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

However, if the application is refused for a seemingly straightforward reason (under the current system, many applications fail due to the applicant’s failure to provide the correct documentation) an applicant would be well advised to request a reconsideration now. There will be a simple process for exchanging an ILR document for a settled status document and this will be free of charge.

The technical document submitted by the government to the European Commission as part of the ongoing exit negotiations makes clear that those applying to remain in the UK following Brexit will not have their applications refused on minor technicalities, and caseworkers considering settled status applications will exercise discretion where appropriate. Therefore, it is possible that EU citizens who have had an application for ILR turned down may nevertheless be successful under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Unsuccessful applicants will also be given a statutory right to appeal against the decision, in keeping with the existing right under the EU Free Movement Directive.

8. What will happen to an EU national who has already obtained UK residence documents, will these be valid after the UK leaves the EU?

EU citizens who have been naturalised as British citizens will be unaffected by the UK’s exit from the EU and will be permitted to retain their citizenship. EU citizens who hold other residence documents, such as a permanent residence document or residence card, will need to apply for settled status under the new system. The government has agreed that the process will be streamlined for such applicants and documents will be converted free of charge.

9. What is the situation for families of our EU staff?

Family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for settled status, after they have accrued five years' continuous residence.

Close family members (i.e. spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependant parents and grandparents) will be able to join EU citizens following the UK's exit from the EU, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020.

Children born to or adopted by an EU citizen after being granted settled status, will automatically become a British citizen if they’re born in the UK. You will not need to apply for settled status on their behalf.

Family members who become related to an EU citizen after the withdrawal date (other than children born or legally adopted after that date), will be subject to the requirements of UK law i.e. their spouse or civil partner must meet a minimum income threshold, currently £18,600.

Useful email addresses/website addresses

To join the NES mailing list email:

Brexit@nes.scot.nhs.uk

To receive Email alerts from the home office:

https://www.gov.uk/email-signup/?topic=/government/brexit

To visit the European Commission’s website on citizen’s rights:

https://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/services/your-rights/Brexit_en 

EU Settlement Scheme: Employers toolkit

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-employer-toolkit 

Scottish Government website: EU Exit – what you need to know

https://www.mygov.scot/eu-exit/  

NES employee counselling service:

https://hub.nes.digital/nes-employee-benefits/independent-counselling-advisory-services-icas/