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.

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

The Home Office has announced changes for a second pilot of the EU Settlement Scheme which will include all health and social care staff in Scotland from late November this year. This is the scheme which will enable resident EU citizens and their family members to obtain the UK immigration status which they need in order to remain here permanently. Phase two of the pilot will start on 29 November 2018 at which point any eligible NES employees will be able to apply.

Those applying to the scheme will only need to take three steps:

  1. Prove their identity
  2. Show that they live in the UK
  3. Declare any criminal convictions

The new online application system for the scheme will be accessible through phones, tablets, laptops and computers. Please note that there is currently no action to be taken but we will update this section as further guidance becomes available.

Pilot eligibility guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-settlement-scheme-pilot-applicant-eligibility

A news item can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/immigration-rules-next-phase-of-eu-settlement-scheme-confirmed

*        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.

It is expected that the settlement scheme process will be more user-friendly than existing processes for residence under EU law, however the scheme is not yet open. The Home Office plans to open the application process for settled status on a voluntary basis from the second half of this year, before it becomes mandatory in January 2021. Our understanding is that individuals will need to engage with the settlement scheme before 30 June 2021 if they want to retain their rights and remain in the UK – even if they already have permanent residence. The latest guidance from the Home Office is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-office-publishes-details-of-settlement-scheme-for-eu-citizens

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 Scottish Government has committed to look to meet the cost of applying for settled status for EU citizens working in the Scottish devolved public sector. Whilst the Scottish Government's powers in relation to immigration are limited by the current constitutional arrangements, it can seek to support EU nationals working within our public services and NES Education for Scotland as your employer will liaise with the Scottish Government and advise in due course how this will work.

The Home Office published a statement of intent in relation to the EU Settlement Scheme on 21 June. This sets out some further details of the application process, which is designed to be simple. The settled status fee will cost less than the fee for a British passport - £65 and £32.50 for children under 16. Moreover, for those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for free.  There will be support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer and there will be no quotas for applications.  The statement advises people that they do not need to do anything just yet.  The scheme will open later this year and be fully operational by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.

  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 Scottish Government’s Health Workforce and Strategic Change Directorate are in the process of creating a Q&A document to help address common questions. This will be made available in due course.

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.

It is expected that the settlement scheme process will be more user-friendly than existing processes for residence under EU law, however the scheme is not yet open.

The Home Office has announced changes for a second pilot of the EU Settlement Scheme which will include all health and social care staff in Scotland from late November this year. This is the scheme which will enable resident EU citizens and their family members to obtain the UK immigration status which they need in order to remain here permanently. Phase two of the pilot will start on 29 November 2018 at which point any eligible NES employees will be able to apply.

Those applying to the scheme will only need to take three steps:

  1. Prove their identity
  2. Show that they live in the UK
  3. Declare any criminal convictions

The new online application system for the scheme will be accessible through phones, tablets, laptops and computers. Please note that there is currently no action to be taken but we will update this section as further guidance becomes available.

Pilot eligibility guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-settlement-scheme-pilot-applicant-eligibility

A news item can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/immigration-rules-next-phase-of-eu-settlement-scheme-confirmed

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 Scottish Government has committed to look to meet the cost of applying for settled status for EU citizens working in the Scottish devolved public sector. Whilst the Scottish Government's powers in relation to immigration are limited by the current constitutional arrangements, it can seek to support EU nationals working within our public services and NHS Education for Scotland as your employer will liaise with the Scottish Government and advise in due course how this will work.

The Home Office published a statement of intent in relation to the EU Settlement Scheme on 21 June. This sets out some further details of the application process, which is designed to be simple. The settled status fee will cost less than the fee for a British passport - £65 and £32.50 for children under 16. Moreover, for those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for free.  There will be support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer and there will be no quotas for applications.  The statement advises people that they do not need to do anything just yet.  The scheme will open later this year and be fully operational by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.

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.