The future immigration arrangements for EU citizens and their family members will be set out in UK Immigration Rules as is the case now for non-EU nationals. The proposed visa routes will be opened in autumn 2020, to enable those who wish to come to the UK to apply in good time. (Read more)
So effectively, there will be a single route which gives access to highly skilled and skilled workers from all countries. Those coming to the UK on this route will need an employer to sponsor them and applicants may add their spouse/partner and children as dependants.
Currently there is a cap on numbers coming into the UK and this will be lifted along with the need for a resident labour market test. The Home Office are also claiming they will make the new system as straightforward and light touch as possible, and low cost to employers.
It also looks likely that Tier 5 YMS visa holders will be able to switch into Tier 2 “in-country” rather than having to go home to apply.
The new skilled route will include workers with intermediate level skills, at RQF 3-5 level (A level or equivalent) as well as graduate and post-graduate, as the MAC recommended. The MAC recommended retaining the minimum salary threshold at £30,000 and the Home Office say they will engage with businesses and employers as to what salary threshold should be set.
There will NOT be a route for low skilled workers although the Home Office recognises the challenges faced by these employers, particularly in sectors like construction and social care, who would find it difficult immediately to adapt. They are proposing, as a transitional measure, to institute a time-limited route for temporary short-term workers. This route will allow people to come for a maximum of 12 months, with a cooling-off period of a further 12 months to prevent people effectively working in the UK permanently.
Although the Home Office do not intend to open sectoral labour schemes, they may consider running one for seasonal agricultural work, and so will be running a small-scale pilot scheme for agricultural workers in 2019.
For EEA nationals already here in the UK their situation is much more secure and they can apply for either settled or pre-settled status depending on how long they have been in the UK.
Come 29th March 2019, or later if the deadline is extended, all EEA nationals who wish to remain here after 31 December 2020 must apply for “pre-settled status” document – if they have been here for less than five years – or “settled status” document if they have been here over five years. This document shows they have had the right to live and work here prior to 29th March 2019 ie: before Brexit.
Your EEA staff who have been here for over five years already can, if they wish, apply for “permanent residency” now. This would entitle them to apply for British citizenship 12 months later, but they may still have to apply for a settled status document to accompany their application.
Here is a link to the EU settlement scheme employer toolkit, which you may find useful: