British citizens are exempt from immigration control — they can automatically settle and work in the UK.

On 31 January 2020, the UK formally left the EU with a formalised and finalised withdrawal agreement. There is a transition period until 31 December 2020 during which the EU’s rules on freedom of movement will continue to apply. Therefore, EEA nationals (that is, EU citizens plus those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) have an automatic right (that is, without the need for a visa) to work in the UK. If they want to continue to work in the UK after the transition period, they must apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settled Status Scheme (EUSS) by 30 June 2021.

When overseas nationals from outside the EU or EEA wish to come and work in the UK, they require permission to do so. Usually, this will be through a certificate of sponsorship, issued by an employer which is licensed to sponsor migrant workers. This topic covers those legal requirements, including checking a person’s right to work in the UK, details of coming changes to the regime and the exceptions to it.

There are some categories of employment for which a certificate of sponsorship is not required (although a different type of permission may be necessary) and nationals or citizens of some countries are able to come to the UK to work without any specific permission.

New immigration rules apply when freedom of movement ends on 31 December 2020. New immigration routes, such as the Skilled Worker visa (to replace the Tier 2 General Work visa) are open for applications.

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