In the last month, the Home Office has received the largest number of settlement applications to date from EU nationals living in the UK, amidst growing fears of a no-deal Brexit and for their future rights.

The number of EU nationals applying to remain in the UK after Brexit has more than doubled, surging from 131,300 in July to 299,000 in August. Home Office officials are now urging employers to help increase the number of applications even further as Brexit approaches.

Whilst employers are not obliged to speak to their employees about the EU Settlement Scheme, nor assist their EU nationals with applications, employees may be unaware of the scheme or unsure of how it works. They may even be unhappy and considering their place in the UK. Therefore, employers that adopt an active and supportive approach to the scheme can help retain their EU staff and foster a more positive working environment.

In a no-deal scenario, the deadline for applications is 31 December 2020 (which is six months earlier than within the Withdrawal Agreement, which has so far been rejected by Parliament). However, EU/EEA/Swiss citizens hoping to apply must be living in the UK by the time it exits the EU on 31 October 2019.

Employers can assist their staff and provide helpful guidance using the Home Office’s employer toolkit.

Applying for settlement is free and the process is designed to be simple but, if you have any questions, please speak to a member of our Brexit team on 0161 941 4000.