The United Kingdom’s (UK) departure from the European Union (EU) termed “Brexit” targeting March 29th continues to impact the business and global mobility forecast for the country. Yet there are still many more questions than answers as speculation about a final Brexit deal -- or “no deal” situation -- ebbs and flows with each passing day. As of January 15th, the UK House of Commons voted down the proposed agreement for the UK to withdraw from the EU. Since Members of Parliament voted against the Brexit deal that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had reached with EU leaders, January 21st is now the deadline for May to propose a backup plan to Parliament.
Brexit Impact on Global Mobility
The impact on global mobility is still uncertain, but businesses in Europe feel that the most significant negative impact of Brexit will be that it will be harder or more expensive to send staff to work in the UK and require more administrative steps than before.
Mobility Managers across the UK and EMEA are keen to understand what the impact will be on their employees, departments and companies’ business operations and what they can do to prepare in advance for Brexit.
NEI’s immigration service partner, Berry Appleman & Leiden (LLP (BAL) indicated that one critical and still unsettled issue of Brexit is the large number of UK nationals currently in Europe that would need to be resolved on a country-by-country basis. However, there is no indication yet on how the majority of the EU countries will accommodate these individuals.
As of now, there is an “expectation” that they would reciprocate and put in place policy arrangements for those UK nationals currently residing on their territory to continue to normally work, reside and study. So far, there have been agreements on this reached only with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway – European Economic Area (EEA) countries not part of the EU - and Switzerland, which has its own set of bilateral agreements with the EU. EU member states are discussing this topic but have not yet released finalized requirements.
Beyond the potential for increased costs, there is significant likelihood companies will experience increased administrative demands and should prepare accordingly. NEI recommends each company’s Global Mobility and Human Resources take the following steps today:
- Create a detailed, accurate report of every one of your company EU nationals in the UK by individual country and, respectively, all company UK nationals in the EU by individual country.
- Determine and realistically prepare internal company resources that will be needed after Brexit to manage the extremely likely additional internal administrative work as a result of Brexit visa and immigration compliance paperwork and forms.
- Work with NEI to discuss potential Brexit issues with immigration and other global service partners. A significant potential change of Brexit is that EU national employees going to the UK and UK national employees going to the EU may likely need work permits after the March 29th deadline for new compliance and visa/immigration laws. This is still to be determined based on pending legislative results.
- Understand that some parts of one’s UK global mobility program may need alterations in the future to adhere to new Brexit compliance laws, once those are decided upon and confirmed. Again, NEI is available to help.
“No Deal” Contingency Plans
Given the continued uncertainty surrounding the ratification of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, agreed between the EU and the UK on November 25, 2018, companies should give some thought and flexibility should a “no deal” Brexit situation occur.
In December 2018, the UK government issued a policy paper confirming the treatment of EU and EEA nationals in the UK in case of a “no deal” for Brexit. This policy statement confirmed that there will be some crucial differences for citizens’ rights in a “no deal” scenario. However, it also assured that EU nationals in the U.K. have a right to stay and can continue to plan for the EU Settlement Scheme rollout in early 2019. Again, this is also to be determined.
What to Consider Next?
Brexit is about to begin an uncertain period of change, but until the world knows definitively on an outcome, the British slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” may prove appropriate -- but NEI recommends clients prepare proactively using our suggestions provided above.
NEI will continue to update clients and prospects as Brexit unfolds with more certainty and then communicate the impact on our clients and the industry. When final, we will work with each of our clients to modify any policies and/or procedures together with our visa and immigration service partners.
In the interim, should NEI Clients have any questions, they should not hesitate to reach out to their Client Relations Manager.