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Brexit Implications of Employing EEA Nationals in Your Family Business

on Friday, 16 June 2017.

Some of our clients have contacted us over employee concerns, particularly following press reports of individuals receiving (albeit in error), Home Office letters inviting them to leave.

This article is intended to give more clarity and information, to enable Family Businesses to reassure their staff, and themselves.

No Change for Now

Until the United Kingdom leaves the EU, on 29 March 2019 at the earliest, the EU Single Market principle of free movement of people will not change. Any EEA national working in your family business at the moment enjoys exactly the same rights to be here as they did before Article 50 notice was given. Nothing has changed...yet.

Current Regulations

Under the EEA Regulations, any EEA national can remain in the UK for a period of up to three months, provided that they have a valid passport, or national identity card.

Qualified Persons

After that three month period, an EEA national can continue remaining in the UK provided that they are a Qualified Person:

  • a worker
  • a job seeker
  • self-employed
  • self-sufficient in the UK and having comprehensive sickness insurance ora student in the UK and having comprehensive sickness insurance

An EEA national who is a Qualified Person need not apply for confirmation of this status, but it can be useful to do so (though not essential) in order to prove subsequently that they have been in the UK long enough to acquire Permanent Residence rights.

Permanent Residence

An EEA national who has been living in the UK as a Qualified Person for a period of at least five years automatically acquires the right of Permanent Residence - that is they are entitled to live permanently in the UK.


After a period of 12 months from the date on which an EEA national acquires Permanent Residence, they may be eligible to apply for British citizenship. Since 2015, an application for British citizenship is conditional on the individual having a permanent residence card.

What Next?

This article was written one week before the Queen's Speech to follow the June 8 General Election. Before the election, the last government was keen to emphasise that they would seek an early deal to settle rights of EEA citizens currently living in the UK, together with a phased approach to setting new immigration regulations.

As the consequences of a new political balance of power begin to emerge, we will be keeping our Family Business clients informed of the Brexit negotiations, including their effect on immigration rights and your EEA national employees.

If you employ EEA nationals, or have concerned EEA nationals working in your family business and would like to discuss the issues in more detail, please contact Judith Hockin on 0117 314 5302, or contact any member of our Family Business team.

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