UK Employer – Employing EU Nationals


Employers should outline their EU national workforce and ensure these individuals have the required permissions in place to continue working in the UK. Employers should consider their recruitment needs for the next year.

EU nationals residing in the UK must be registered under the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June 2021 to continue their right to work in the UK.

There are two different statuses under this scheme:

  • Pre-Settled Status (for EU nationals currently in the UK, who have less than five years residency in the UK)
  • Settled Status (for EU nationals with more than 5 years of residency in the UK. 

What is the new points-based immigration system?

  • A new global Immigration System will be introduced on 1 January 2021.
  • All non-British nationals will be subject to the same immigration procedures.
  • EU workers will be considered third country nationals if they are coming to work in the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards.
  • Irish nationals will not be subject to the new immigration system – they have a special status. Deemed as settled with permanent status and do not need work authorization.

UK based employers, employing EU nationals should look at a Sponsor License.


What is a Sponsor License?

If you are employing non-EU nationals, you must register with the Home Office to receive a ‘sponsor license’

  • A sponsor license is an online verification of your right to employ non-EU nationals in the UK. Applications for a sponsor license can take up to 18 weeks.
  • This license has compliance requirements attached to it.
  • It is important to look at the expiry date of this license in order to meet these compliance regulations.
  • Consider whether you have enough work authorizations under that license to continue employing individuals.
  • Without a sponsor license, you cannot employ an EU or non-EU national.
  • Any EU citizens coming to the UK intending to work after 1 January 2021 will need to obtain authorization in advance.
  • Work authorization cannot be obtained unless your employer has a sponsor license.

What options are available for employing EU/ non-EU nationals?

  • As an employer you can sponsor an individual, but they are then tied to your organization for the duration of the employment.
  • You will be awarded set points in specific criteria (including qualification, salary, English language and sponsoring).

Skilled Worker:

  • This option applies to new hires or local hires, who intend to remain in the UK permanently.
  • EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa will need to show they have a job offer from an accredited employer sponsor in order to apply.
  • A skills threshold will apply, including salary requirements, qualification requirements and English language requirements.
  • The salary threshold criteria is:
    • Minimum salary requirement of £25,600.
    • There is also a ‘category salary threshold’ which depends on the specific role that employee will undertake.
    • There are also salary thresholds which apply to the type of role the individual will be involved in.

Intra Company Transfer Route:

  • This option involves transferring individuals from overseas linked entity to that UK entity. This option may be more suitable for a short-term assignments or temporary work.
  • This route does not lead to permanent residency.
  • Salary threshold criteria:
    • Skills threshold is much higher in this route.
    • Minimum salary requirement of £41,000

How can employees prove their right to work in the UK?

  • Until 30th June 2021, potential employees can still prove their right to work in the UK by using:
    • A passport or National ID card if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.
    • A biometric residence card if you’re a non-EU EEA or Swiss citizen.
    • Your status under the EU Settlement Scheme of EU Temporary Leave Scheme using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service:
  • As an employer you cannot require citizens to show you their EU Settlement Status until after June 30, 2021 for discriminatory reasons.
  • Employers should support their employees in applying for the EU Settlement Scheme.

The information provided on these pages does not constitute legal advice and is subject to change in line with government rules and laws. While BritCham will endeavour to keep the information on these pages as current as possible, we advise you to seek expert independent legal advice an any matters relevant to your situation.