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The immigration rules for European or EU citizens wishing to work in the UK are not as straightforward as you would expect considering we are all supposed to be part of the happy ‘one market’ European family.

Free movement of labour conditions have varied from country to country since the EU expansion of 2004 when former Eastern Bloc countries, known as the A8 nations, were admitted to the European Union.

Whilst all EU citizens were free to travel around to EU area, only Ireland, Sweden and the UK allowed full ‘free movement of Labour’ to the ‘new kids on the bloc’ such as Poland, Slovakia, Latvia and so on. See Free Movement of EU nationals explained.

Under European Union rules that came into force on 1 May 2011, countries like Germany were forced to open its doors fully to A8 jobseekers from Poland and other Eastern European nations for the first time.

EU Workers in the UK

According to Directgov.co.uk, if you are a European worker and want to come to the UK to work your new employer will need to know if it is legal for you to do so. Find out if you will have to register and what proof you will need to show an employer.

Coming to work in the UK

Directgov.co.uk says that ‘nearly’ all European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals are free to enter and live in the United Kingdom without the need to apply for permission. In other words, everyone except Bulgarians and Romanians.

EEA countries

The EEA countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

European Union member states

If you are from one of the new ‘A2’ European Union (EU) member states, either Bulgaria or Romania, then you may need to register or ask permission.

If you are a Bulgarian or Romanian national you may be subject to worker authorisation requirements. This means that you need authorisation from the UK Border Agency before accepting or starting any employment in the UK.

The UK Border Agency says that ‘most categories of employment will require your employer to obtain a work permit before you apply for an accession worker card’

However, in certain permit-free categories you will only have to apply for an ‘accession worker card’. These categories are:

  • airport-based operational ground staff of an overseas airline
  • au pair placements
  • domestic workers in a private household
  • ministers of religion, missionaries or members of a religious order
  • overseas government employment
  • postgraduate doctors, dentists and trainee general practitioners
  • private servants in a diplomatic household
  • representatives of an overseas newspaper; news agency or broadcasting agency
  • sole representatives
  • teachers or language assistants on an approved exchange scheme
  • overseas qualified nurses coming for a period of supervised practice

You do not need authorisation if you are self-employed – i.e. you are running a business as a genuine self-employed person, not working as a waiter for one restaurant on a ‘self-employed’ basis to get around the rules.  

Exceptions to worker registration and authorisation

There are a few other circumstances when you wouldn’t need to register if you are from Bulgaria or Romania.

Exemptions from worker authorisation for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are listed on the UK Border Agency website. The UK Border Agency’s section on ‘Exemptions from the worker authorisation requirement’ states:

‘You do not need to apply for a registration certificate, but you can do so if you would like confirmation that there are no restrictions on you taking employment in the UK.

The section lists a number of exemption categories and states that ‘you will be exempt from the requirement to obtain authorisation to work in the UK if’:

  • you have leave to enter under the Immigration Act 1971 and that leave does not place any restrictions on taking employment in the UK (for example, if you have been given leave to remain as the spouse of a British citizen or as the dependant of a work permit holder); or
  • you have been working with permission, and without interruption, in the UK for a period of 12 months ending on or after 31 December 2006. For example, you are already present in the UK as a work permit holder or in some other category that confers permission to take employment (for example as a student and you have been in part-time employment continuously for 12 months); or
  • you are providing services in the UK on behalf of an employer established elsewhere in the EEA; or
  • you are also a citizen of the UK or another EEA state (other than Bulgaria or Romania) or Switzerland; or
  • you are the family member of an EEA national who is exercising a Treaty right in the UK (except if you are the family member of a Bulgarian or Romanian national who is subject to work authorisation requirements, or who is exempt from those requirements but only by virtue of being self-employed, self-sufficient or a student) or
  • you are the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen or person settled in the UK; or
  • you are the family member of a Bulgarian or Romanian national who is self-employed, self-sufficient or a student. You will remain exempt provided that your sponsor remains a student, self-sufficient person or self-employed; or
  • you are the spouse, civil partner, descendant under the age of 21 or the dependant of a Bulgarian or Romanian national who is subject to work authorisation and holds an Accession worker card; or
  • you are a member of a diplomatic mission, the family member of a diplomat or the family member of anyone who is entitled to diplomatic immunity.

There is also a Highly Skilled Migrant Programme or category specifically for nationals of Bulgaria and Romania

To pass the points-based assessment, you need to score at least 75 points across the following categories:

  • the Master in Business Administration (MBA) provision;
  • qualifications;
  • previous earnings;
  • United Kingdom experience; and
  • age.

EEA students

Directgove.co.uk says that if your home country is in the EEA, or you are a Swiss national, you can work without restrictions unless you are a Bulgarian or Romanian national.

Students from Bulgaria and Romania

If you are a student from Bulgaria or Romania you will need permission from the UK Border Agency to work. You will be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week and full time during vacations or if you are on a vocational course.

Vocational courses are work related qualifications where much of the learning takes place on the job in a real work environment. The most common type of vocational course is the QCF, which replaced the NVQ (National Vocational Course) courses as part of a recent government qualifications revamp.

Yellow Card to Blue Card route to residence in the UK

The majority Bulgarians and Romanians we come across in the UK (there are an estimated half a million Romanians living in the UK) have been or are currently working under a ‘yellow card’ registration scheme either as a ‘self-employed’ worker or studying and working as a student. However, many others have obtained an NI number and convinced an unwitting employer that they are ‘European’ and do not need permission to work.

Romanian and Bulgarians who study for vocational or sandwich-type courses, such as QCF (which replaced NVQ’s this year) in Customer Service, IT, Catering, Hospitality, Construction or Health and Social Care, are allowed to work full time, as stated on the back of their Yellow Cards.

Employers can employ Romanian and Bulgarian workers provided they obtain a yellow card registration certificate allowing them to work in the UK whilst studying for a British qualification.

Provided they stick to the course and work legally for 12 months in line with their course, they will usually be granted a residence ‘Blue Card’ permit.

Some students, perhaps unwilling or unable to pay the fees, drop out of the course as they believe that having obtained a Yellow Card and NI Number they can continue working without further checks.

The Romanian/Bulgarian students and their employers may find themselves in breach of the immigration rules and may therefore lose their eligibility for residence or Blue Card.

As employers can be fined up to £10,000 for each illegal worker they employ, they are now looking deeper into their staff files. 

Employers also have the option of applying for a work permit provided the job meets the requirements. See: Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

The application form for a yellow card is a ‘BR1’, but it is not actually called a ‘yellow card’ It is only called a yellow card because the registration certificate is literally a yellow card!

See:  HOW TO FIND APPLICATION FORMS FOR A ‘YELLOW’ OR ‘BLUE’ CARD REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE ON THE UK BORDER AGENCY WEBSITE

See article:

UK Border Agency launch new website

The newly revised UK Border Agency website has a better look and feel and navigation seems faster, but previously published links to specific pages of the site may no longer exist.

For instance, the link for European Workers is now:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/bulgaria-romania/work-permits/applying/

The link for ‘Bulgarian and Romanian nationals‘ is:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/bulgaria-romania/work-permits/

The UK Border Agency and Home Office website contains a vast amount of information which can be difficult to wade your way through the guidance and Immigration Rules.

The navigation section for European workers from Bulgaria and Romania also appears to have been simplified although finding specific information is still a challenge.

Confusion remains over the need for Bulgarians and Romanians applying for BR1 Yellow Cards as students to take out Comprehensive Sickness Insurance cover. 

The BR1 Form in Section 9 states:

‘If sections 4 (Students) and 5 (Self-sufficient) have been completed: evidence of ‘Comprehensive Sickness Insurance’ cover in the UK and funds to show you are economically self-sufficient, e.g. a bank statement.’

In other words, the paragraph means you need comprehensive sickness insurance only if you are applying under both ‘student’ and ‘self sufficient’ sections.

Nevertheless, student applicants are being asked to take out private medical insurance policies and are being refused if they fail to supply the correct cover.

What is the correct insurance cover?

One insurance company manager told Immigration Matters that he has been trying to get clarification on the exact requirements from the UK Border Agency for several weeks.

Active Quote offers an easy to use online quotation and application system, but also has telephone support from advisers who are on hand to answer questions.

To obtain a quotation for Comprehensive Sickness Insurance visit the Active Quote website 

See article:

 

UK Border Agency launch new website

The newly revised UK Border Agency website has a better look and feel and navigation seems faster, but previously published links to specific pages of the site may no longer exist.

For instance, the link for European Workers is now:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/bulgaria-romania/work-permits/applying/

The link for ‘Bulgarian and Romanian nationals‘ is:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/bulgaria-romania/work-permits/

The UK Border Agency and Home Office website contains a vast amount of information which can be difficult to wade your way through the guidance and Immigration Rules.

The navigation section for European workers from Bulgaria and Romania also appears to have been simplified although finding specific information is still a challenge.

Confusion remains over the need for Bulgarians and Romanians applying for BR1 Yellow Cards as students to take out Comprehensive Sickness Insurance cover. 

The BR1 Form in Section 9 states:

‘If sections 4 (Students) and 5 (Self-sufficient) have been completed: evidence of ‘Comprehensive Sickness Insurance’ cover in the UK and funds to show you are economically self-sufficient, e.g. a bank statement.’

In other words, the paragraph means you need comprehensive sickness insurance only if you are applying under both ‘student’ and ‘self sufficient’ sections.

Nevertheless, student applicants are being asked to take out private medical insurance policies and are being refused if they fail to supply the correct cover.

What is the correct insurance cover?

One insurance company manager told Immigration Matters that he has been trying to get clarification on the exact requirements from the UK Border Agency for several weeks.

Active Quote offers an easy to use online quotation and application system, but also has telephone support from advisers who are on hand to answer questions.

To obtain a quotation for Comprehensive Sickness Insurance visit the Active Quote website

If you would like more information on vocational courses suitable for Bulgarians and Romanians applying for a yellow card, email info@immigrationmatters.co.uk

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