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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation
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International trade and immigration post-Brexit

Brexit

We keep this page up to date with the latest developments following the UK/EU trade deal, the new immigration system, as well as trade deals signed with other countries that might benefit the industry.

Since the UK left the EU customs union and single market, there is no longer a "one size fits all" for trading with the EU. There will be significant levels of complexity for businesses to navigate as the UK now trades with the 27 different member states in-which different rules apply.

Hiring overseas staff, data handling, business travelling/ mobility and mutual recognition of professional qualifications are all areas affected by these recent changes. The Government website offers a checker tool to quickly identify the information you need to be aware of. 

Perhaps the most significant change for recruiters is the end of free movement. The new Points-based Immigration System is now in place, and details on the EU visa policy for different countries can be found here. Irish nationals will not require a visa to work in the UK, and EEA nationals that arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020 remain eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. The Skilled Worker route is open for those with a job offer from a licenced sponsor. Skill level RQF 3 or above (A-Level and equivalent), and English proficiency to a required standard and minimum salary threshold are required for an individual to be eligible for sponsorship. The REC’s key concerns remain the lack of low-skilled and temporary worker routes and the fact that employment businesses cannot sponsor workers on behalf of their clients. Information on Changes in Right to Work checks are now available. 

If you wish to discuss any of these topics or provide us with case studies, please reach out to policy@rec.uk.com.


Timeline of the latest Brexit, international trade and immigration news

Click any date below for full details

8 September - EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will no longer be able to use an ID card to enter the UK unless they are exempt.

From 1 October 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will only be able to travel to the UK using a valid passport. ID cards will no longer be accepted as a valid travel document for entry to the UK. These changes apply to those who don’t have the right to enter/remain in the UK (such as settled or pre-settled status, for example).

Anyone with protected rights under the EU Settlement Scheme, and those whose rights are protected under the Citizens’ Rights Agreements will continue to be able to use their national identity cards to enter the UK until at least 2025.

The following EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens will be exempt from this change and will continue to be able to use their national identity cards:

  • Those who have received settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) or who have made an application to the EUSS but have not yet received a decision on their application
  • Those who have an EU Settlement Scheme family permit
  • Those who are an S2 Healthcare visitor
  • Those with a frontier worker permit
  • Those who are Swiss nationals and have a Swiss Service Provider from Switzerland visa
  • Gibraltar ID cards issued to British citizens or to passport cards issued to Irish citizens, will also continue to be accepted for travel to the UK

 

Please click checks the links below for sector specific guidance from the home office.

21 July - Proof of Qualifications for Overseas Teachers

Following queries around checking the qualification status of teachers who have qualified overseas post-Brexit, the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) have published the Country Evidence Table. The TRA created this table to help QTS applicants know what evidence they would need for their application, but the DfE have confirmed to the REC that this is the most useful reference for agencies requiring evidence of qualifications for overseas teaching applicants. The Country Evidence Table contains a list of countries, and what evidence would need to be provided by candidates from those countries to demonstrate they have qualified. The list is not exhaustive, but does cover most of Europe, as well as USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This table will be updated on a regular basis.

1 July 2021 – New Immigration System – Graduate Route now open

Under the new immigration system, the new graduate route is now open for applications.  International students that completed an eligible course at a UK higher education provider can apply and be able to work or look for work after their studies for a maximum period of two years, or three years for Doctoral students.

29 June 2021 - UK Adequacy decision on data protection

Earlier this year we reported that the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement contained a provision which allowed for a 'grace period' of up to six months during which data can continue to flow freely from the EU/EEA to the UK. It was anticipated that during this period an adequacy decision would be granted to the UK which would mean that data can then be transferred freely on an ongoing basis, in the same manner as it did before the end of the transition period.

Yesterday the European Union (EU) formally recognised the UK’s high data protection standards after more than a year of constructive talks. This will allow for the continued seamless flow of personal data from the EU to the UK and businesses can continue to receive personal data from the EU and EEA without having to put additional arrangements in place with European counterparts.

The adequacy decision is in place for four years, and the Commission warned that it could be withdrawn if UK law no longer gives EU citizens protection over how their data is used.

In any event, this is a great outcome for UK businesses. For more information on the decision, please see here.

28 June 2021 – Updated Employer Partner Pack

Ahead of the deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme and the subsequent adjustments on Right to Work checks for EU workers from 1 July, the Home Office have updated their Employer Partner Pack with relevant resources. Key points they are emphasising are:

  • Employers do not need to retrospectively check the status of anyone that already works for them before 1 July 2021.
  • Anyone who applies to the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June 2021 deadline will have their existing rights protected by law pending the outcome of their application.
  • Job applicants with a pending application to the scheme will be able to use their Certificate of Application as proof of their right to work, pending the outcome of their application.

You can also access REC's legal guide on Right to Work here where you'll be able to access frequently asked question on how these changes will affect the recruitment industry.

22 June 2021 – Updated Right to Work guidance to reflect changes from 1 July 2021

Updated guidance on Right to Work (RtW) checks to reflect changes for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after 1 July is now available: Right to work checks: an employer's guide.

It is worth noting that employers are not required to carry out retrospective checks on EEA citizens who were employed up to and including 30 June 2021, even in instances where they used their passport or national identity card as proof of their RtW.

The guidance includes updates in the following:

  • Guidance on carrying out right to work checks on EEA citizens, pre 30 June (inclusive) and post 1 July
  • Guidance on EEA citizens without evidence of status after 30 June
  • End date of COVID-19 adjusted checks

The updated code of practice, which accompanies this legislative change, can be found here.  

16 June 2021 – The Home Office is hosting a number of free sessions on EUSS and the 30 June 2021 deadline

The end date to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is fast approaching. EU, EEA and Swiss nationals that were in the UK by 31 December 2020 have less than two weeks to apply. The scheme closes on 30 June 2021. Please remind your employees and candidates to do so.

New guidance on Right to Work (RTW) checks from 1 July 2021 have now been published and this means you will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of right-to-work, except for Irish citizens. The Government has confirmed that retrospective checks won’t be necessary for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens employed before 1 July 2021. You can find more information in our legal update here.

The Home Office joined REC's last Talking Recruitment webinar to present on topics such as the new immigration system, the EUSS and RTW checks. If you missed that, you can watch the recording here.

The Home Office is hosting a number of sessions covering the differences between Settled and Pre-Settled status, late applications, right to work checks, support for EU nationals and Q&A. Use the links below to sign up to one of the sessions:

14 June - What is the latest with right to work checks from 1 July 2021?

Government has just published guidance on right to work checks from 1 July 2021.

From that date, the process for completing right to work checks on EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens will change. Employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of right to work, except for Irish citizens.

The guidance states that employers do not need to retrospectively check the status of any EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens employed before 1 July 2021. It sets out how both the manual’ and ‘digital’ right to work processes will work.

The full guidance for right to work checks is available on the government website here.

What is covered in the new guidance?

Updated guidance on how to conduct a right to work check from 1 July 2021 and lists the acceptable documents can be used. This includes additions of the following documents:

  • Irish passport or passport card
  • Frontier Worker Permit
  • Documents issued by the Crown Dependencies EU Settlement Schemes, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service.
  • Certificate of Application or document issued by the UK, Jersey or Guernsey EU Settlement Schemes, confirming an application made by the 30 June deadline, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service.

EU Settlement Scheme deadline

There are less than three weeks left for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Home Office is encouraging employers to remind their staff to apply to the scheme by the deadline of 30 June 2021.

Guidance for EU, EEA and Swiss citizen on proving their immigrations status

Government has also published a new guide for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens on viewing and proving their immigration status (eVisa). It explains how people can view and prove their immigration status, update their details, what they should expect when crossing the UK border and how to get help accessing their immigration status.

The REC is pushing for clarity from Home Office on certain issues that are concerning members, such as the validity of expired passports and whether there will be a requirement to conduct retrospective checks where a check has been completed before 1 July, but the individual is not due to start work until after the 1 July . We will monitor your feedback and update members as soon as we have more information on this.

Please see the communication issued by the Home Office in this PDF:

Right to Work Checks from 1 July 2021 

11 June –RTW checks for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens from 1 July 2021

With the end of the Grace Period, from 1 July 2021, the process for completing right-to-work checks on EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens will change. You will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of right-to-work, except for Irish citizens. The Government has confirmed that retrospective checks won’t be necessary for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens employed before 1 July 2021. You can find more information in our legal update here.

Previous Brexit updates up to 26 May

26 May - Home Office webinars on the new immigration system and EUSS

The Home Office are running two sessions on the Points Based Immigration System and EU Settlement Scheme. These are aimed at SMEs but would be of value to all businesses. You can register on the links below:

 

7 May 2021 - Guidance for UK Business Travellers

Government have published new guidance for UK business travellers which can be found here. Current guidance covers 8 member states that make up for just under 75% of all business travel visits to the EU. New guidance for other countries will be published in the near future.

 

6 May 2021 - Ratification of the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal

Last week, the European Parliament ratified the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), also known as the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal, which effectively entered into force on 1 May 2021. This was the last step to cement the ongoing partnership between the UK and EU. REC will keep lobbying on behalf of members to ensure issues such as business travel, and mutual recognition of professional qualifications are resolved as smoothly as possible. We attended a webinar on UK travellers in the EU organised by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and you can access some Q&A's from that session here. In addition, the first set of Government guidance for travelling to work in some EU member states is now available and can be accessed here.

As for the future relationship with the EU, 30th June is fast approaching is the closing date to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme on 30 June 2021. Although you cannot ask for proof of status before that date, you should incentivise your employees to apply to preserve their right to legally live and work in the UK going forward.

 

25 March 2021 - New report from the House of Lords on UK-EU trade

The EU Services Sub-Committee has published its report, Beyond Brexit: trade in services. The report raises the REC’s concerns over agency workers being excluded from the provisions for short-term business travel. The changes to business travel rules represent a significant change in the UK-EU trading relationship for the recruitment sector. With the end of free movement, there is now a patchwork of different rules for each country in the EU. The report’s call for country-by-country Government guidance to be published as soon as possible is a welcome step. We are very pleased to see the committee take our evidence on board and acknowledge the difficult situation that the services sector is in. An agreement on mutual recognition of qualifications and a decision on data adequacy were also rightly called for.

 

11 March 2021 - New SMSs toolkit and guidance on business travel

The government has launched a SMEs toolkit to help small businesses to identify the decisions and actions needed to continue trading with the EU and the EFTA. The document contains action lists, helplines numbers and further resources. New guidance on business travel to Europe for work has also been published, including information on entry requirements, luggage, earnings, qualifications, and insurance. You can download the explainer here. REC has been asked to comment on the new guidance, so if you have any feedback, please contact us at policy@rec.uk.com.

 

4 March 2021 - New immigration routes and SOL review

On 4 March 2021, the Government laid additional Immigration Rules to continue the implementation of the new immigration system. These include opening the Graduate route to applications from 1 July 2021, covering also a Global Talent route to enable those at the top of their careers to qualify if they have received a prestigious prize. The Rules for the Skilled Worker route have also been amended to allow foreign workers in key health and care roles to have greater opportunities to come to the UK. Click here to access the statement of changes in full. 

 

25 February 2021 - Data adequacy decision and RTW guidance

The Government has welcomed the European Commission's draft data adequacy decision recognising UK’s data protection standards and setting out that the UK’s standards are ‘adequate’.  This is a step closer for the EU to complete the technical approval process which, if done swiftly, will lead to a final data adequacy decision ahead of the 30 June deadline. We will be watching this space and you can find REC's latest guidance here.

Following feedback from stakeholders, including the REC, the Home Office has published an updated version of its Right to Work leaflet which employers can use during the grace period (1 January to 30 June) to clarify requirements to EEA employees. The materials also include a RTW factsheet and information on the new Points-based immigration system with relevant Q&As as well as updated information on Frontier Workers.

 

28 January 2021 - Department for International Trade support and BEIS videos explainers

The UK is now trading with 27 different member states and there's no longer a "one size fits all". Now is the time to think about your international strategy. The REC has a partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) who can help you to grow your business abroad. With over 160 offices in 108 countries overseas, the DIT has the necessary expertise to support you. Please get in touch with us at policy@rec.uk.com if you would like to hear more.

Following the Trade Agreement with the EU, BEIS has launched a series of new, on-demand videos to help familiarise yourself with the new rules and the actions arising from them. Follow this link to access the video content.

 

7 January 2021 - Brexit Realities Webinar

The REC hosted a Brexit Realities webinar with business partners to share views and answer questions (for those who missed it, you can watch it on-demand here).

Speakers were in unison celebrating the deal which avoided a cliff-edge and having something that will be built on.  But, as reality sinks in, many unanswered questions and unforeseen consequences start to arise. It is, after all, a very unique, one of a kind deal. Click here to read REC's key takeaways from the webinar.

 

29 December 2020 - REC response to the Brexit Deal

The Brexit deal is made, a thin but welcomed platform to build on. Work remains needed on implementation, and to ensure there are provisions on key areas for the industry, such as equivalence on professional qualifications. You can read REC’s response to the deal.


UK trade agreements with non-EU countries

Click below to see the full list of non-EU countries and trading blocs with which the UK has made agreements from 1 January 2021. Where the agreement has not yet been ratified, provisional application or bridging mechanisms have been put in place to ensure continuity of trade. The table is up to date as of 4 August 2021, the Department of International Trade regularly updates the information here.

UK trade agreements with non-EU countries
Agreement Country Entry into effect mechanism (1) Total UK trade with countries, 2020 (£ million) (2)
Albania Albania Full ratification 55
Andean countries Colombia Bridging mechanism 2,018 (total for Andean countries)
Andean countries Ecuador Full ratification 2,018 (total for Andean countries)
Andean countries Peru Full ratification 2,018 (total for Andean countries)
Canada Canada Full ratification 17,662
Cameroon Cameroon Full ratification 163
CARIFORUM trade bloc Antigua and Barbuda Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Bahamas Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Barbados Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Belize Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Dominica Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Dominican Republic Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Grenada Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Guyana Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Jamaica Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc St. Kitts and Nevis Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Saint Lucia Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc St. Vincent and the Grenadines Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Suriname Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
CARIFORUM trade bloc Trinidad and Tobago Provisional application 2,897 (total for CARIFORUM trade bloc)
Central America Costa Rica Full ratification 1,263 (total for Central America)
Central America El Salvador Full ratification 1,263 (total for Central America)
Central America Guatemala Full ratification 1,263 (total for Central America)
Central America Honduras Full ratification 1,263 (total for Central America)
Central America Nicaragua Full ratification 1,263 (total for Central America)
Central America Panama Full ratification 1,263 (total for Central America)
Chile Chile Full ratification 1,360
Côte d’Ivoire Côte d’Ivoire Full ratification 501
Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc Mauritius Full ratification 1,377 (total for Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc)
Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc Seychelles Full ratification 1,377 (total for Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc)
Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc Zimbabwe Full ratification 1,377 (total for Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc)
Egypt   Egypt Full ratification 2,742
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands Full ratification 503
Georgia Georgia Full ratification 148
Ghana Ghana Provisional application 869
Iceland and Norway Iceland Provisional application 21,441 (total for Iceland and Norway)
Iceland and Norway Norway Provisional application 21,441 (total for Iceland and Norway)
Israel Israel Full ratification 4,829
Japan Japan Full ratification 24,687
Jordan Jordan Full ratification 606
Kenya (3) Kenya Bridging mechanism 1,014
Kosovo Kosovo Full ratification 15
Lebanon Lebanon Full ratification 560
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Full ratification 173
Mexico Mexico Full ratification 3,638
Moldova Moldova Provisional application 918
Morocco Morocco Provisional application 1,456
North Macedonia North Macedonia Provisional application 1,443
Pacific states Fiji Provisional application 332 (total for Pacific States)
Pacific states Papua New Guinea Provisional application 332 (total for Pacific States)
Pacific states Samoa (4) Bridging mechanism 332 (total for Pacific States)
Pacific states Solomon Islands (4) Bridging mechanism 332 (total for Pacific States)
Palestinian Authority Palestinian Authority Full ratification 20
Serbia Serbia Provisional application 614
Singapore Singapore Full ratification 14,091
South Korea South Korea Full ratification 11,224
Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc Botswana Full ratification 8,689 (total for SACUM trade bloc)
Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc Eswatini Full ratification 8,689 (total for SACUM trade bloc)
Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc Lesotho Full ratification 8,689 (total for SACUM trade bloc)
Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc Mozambique Full ratification 8,689 (total for SACUM trade bloc)
Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc Namibia Full ratification 8,689 (total for SACUM trade bloc)
Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc South Africa Full ratification 8,689 (total for SACUM trade bloc)
Switzerland Switzerland Full ratification 33,970
Tunisia Tunisia Full ratification 492
Turkey Turkey Provisional application 15,085
Ukraine Ukraine Full ratification 1,286
Vietnam Vietnam Provisional application 4,824