This article is intended to give more clarity and information, to enable Family Businesses to reassure their staff, and themselves.
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.
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.
After that three month period, an EEA national can continue remaining in the UK provided that they are a Qualified Person:
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.
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.
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.