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Brexit: The Exit of EU worker From UK’s Labour Market

EEA Referendum

Brexit: The Exit of EU worker From UK’s Labour Market

Exactly a year after the Brexit vote and the affirmation of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union a lot has happened. Of note, is the realisation among UK employers of an impending shortage of employees. The fear of being relegated to the status of second-class citizens has already led to the exit of employees from the larger EU. Currently estimated at 7% a fall in the number of EU employees would greatly affect certain sectors of the economy especially the manufacturing, hospitality, trade and financial sectors. The statics based on the data from The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates that EU workers account for an average of 11% in the aforementioned sectors.

Departures from the UK to other EU countries such as Italy, France, Sweden and Germany are already evident. These countries offer a slightly better job opportunities, while still according EU citizens a chance to enjoy full citizenry rights in their countries of residence. On commencement of the Brexit talks, in June 2017, the UK government adamantly stated that it wishes to advance same working, healthcare and benefits right to EU workers who will be in the UK before completion of the Brexit process. This has however been criticised as lacklustre since it does not accord full UK citizenship rights to the workers as has been the case. Needless to say, such resolutions are likely to strengthen EU workers to depart UK’s labour market before and after Brexit.

The departures pose two other major problems, productivity and labour costs. EU workers especially those from the previous Soviet States put in an extra 40 hours per week than a UK citizen worker. Additionally, most of them are not in unions and are able to work at relatively cheaper wages. Thus the exit of these workers will therefore inevitably lead to increase in costs and decrease in productivity. This fact especially rings true in labour intensive economic sectors such as the manufacturing sector. The uncertainty of the final results of the Brexit process will, therefore, be a cause of worry to employers as it is to their EU employees.

Alternatives: Use of EEA (QP) and EEA (PR)

Good news for EU workers is that they can choose to acquire full UK citizenship. The process is not that hard especially if one has been in the country for some years. As a member of the European Economic Area, the UK already had ways to fast-track citizenship for EEA nationals. The first step would be to acquire the European Economic Area-Qualified Person (EEA-QP) certificate. After a period of five years, one seeks an EEA Permanent Residence document. Finally, within six years of residency one can go ahead and apply for full citizenship.

Europeans Economic Area-Qualified Person/ EEA (QP)

The EEA QP certificate is a document showing that an EEA national is in the UK legally and is allowed to exercise full treaty rights. The treaty rights refer to the privilege to be employed, study, seek for a job or live in the UK on a self-sufficient basis.

Applying for EEA QP certificate

An EEA (QP) form needs to be obtained from online from the UK home Office website. The form contains fill in details that need to be completed. Apart from the normal personal details such as age, name, gender, nationality and relationship status it also has other details which may differ from person to person. This difference is as a result of the various economic status and qualification status of the applying parties. On the same note, applicants will have to tender supportive documents such as employment letters, bank statements, insurance documents and school admission letters to back up their requests for the registration certificate. It is also important to point out that this document is meant for use by EEA nationals who have been in the UK for less than 5 years

Categories of Qualified person

• Workers: EEA workers currently actively engaged in employment

• Previously working: This category includes EEA nationals who are out of work due to either injury or illness leading to temporary inactivity, unemployed but undergoing vocational training or unemployed but searching for a job.

• Self-employed: This category includes people who are actively self-employed and those previously self-employed but temporarily incapacitated.

• Self -sufficient: The category caters for persons who are able to cater for themselves without having to go to work

• Students: This group contains students studying in the United Kingdom.

• Job Seeker: This Category caters for any EEA national who is not actively employed but searching for employment

European Economic Area – Permanent Residence EEA (PR)

The EEA (PR) on the other hand gives an EEA nationals the right to reside in the UK perpetually without having to be a citizen. For EEA nationals who have stayed in the country for more than five years, the EEA Permanent residence is a better alternative. The EEA Permanent Residence can, however, be acquired in less than five years due to extremely urgent cases such as long-term injury illness leading to permanent withdrawal from work or in cases of early retirement. Additionally, one may get early permanent residency upon the death of a working or self-sufficient EEA national who was living with them at the time of death or if the EEA national residing with you cease working to work due to the earlier mentioned reasons

The EEA Permanent Residence form is bulkier that the EEA (QP) application document, that would be expected. It does not dwell so much on qualification but one’s time spent in the UK and the relations. Nevertheless, if one has never applied for a qualified person’s certificate before, then the whole process of proving qualification will have to be followed. For persons with qualification certificates, the requirement to produce supporting documents still applies but the process has been found to be much faster, with minor changes shortening the process.

A holder of the EEA permanent residence is able to transfer his rights to the immediate family including the spouse, children under the age of 21 years as well as parents who are his/her dependants. This is very crucial in helping retain family structures. The process of registering immediate family members is also less tedious.

Online applications

Both EEA (QP) And EEA (PR) can be applied for online. However, this is not possible if one is a student or self-sufficient person and they are either:

• reliant on a family member for financial support

• financially responsible for any other family members


Fees and form submission

Both EEA (QR) and EEA (PR) are charged £ 65 for each successive application. If one is sure that the forms have been completely filled in, the supporting documents duly attached and the accompanying fees attached then they can submit the forms online. If sending by post, they should be sent to the Home Office address for processing. The timeline for processing both the documents differ by case. Some cases have been sorted within a span of seven weeks while others have taken as long as six months.

Application for United Kingdom citizenship.

The EEA Permanent Residence status is essential when applying for UK citizenship. A holder of EEA Permanent Residence form may apply for citizenship upon attaining six years of residence in the UK. For individuals who have already stayed in the UK for six years upon the grant of UK permanent residence document, applying for Citizenship can be immediate. Additionally, for permanent residents married to UK citizens the process is also immediate and faster.


So there you have it. It is not all gloom as it seems. The UK has a good number of EU employees who have been in the country for more than 5 years. They can and should easily take advantage of the EEA permanent residence to boost their chances of fast tracking UK citizenship.

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