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Work and travel between Ireland and the UK after Brexit: what happens next?

Written by
Lewis Silkin, widely recognised as Ireland’s leading specialist employment law practice
Authors
Declan
Declan Groarke
Solicitor - Ireland
Lewis Silkin (Ireland)
Ireland
05.01.21
5
This article explains how work and travel between the UK and Ireland will be affected by Brexit from 1 January 2021.

1. GUIDANCE

1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?

Yes.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has issued guidance on Preparing for Brexit, which includes information on the Common Travel Area that applies to British and Irish citizens.

Ireland has a unique relationship with the UK whereby the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK (including Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man) has existed since 1922, with its modern inception coming into force in 1952. The CTA is not reliant on membership of the European Union. It is based on legislation and bilateral agreements between Ireland and the UK. Therefore, if an Irish or British citizen is living or working in a part of the CTA, they will not be required to take any action to protect their status or rights associated with the CTA.

In response to Brexit, the Government of Ireland and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding, reaffirming their commitment to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances. Through the Memorandum of Understanding, both Governments committed to undertaking all the work necessary, including through legislative provision, to ensure that the agreed CTA rights and privileges are protected.

Accordingly, the Irish legislature enacted the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2020 (‘the Act’). The Act is primarily designed to reduce the possibility of serious disturbance in the Irish economy in the event of Brexit. As part of the Act there is provision to maintain the integrity and operation of the CTA and to ensure that the CTA rights continue.

The operation of the CTA has been unaffected by Brexit and has been recognised in Brexit negotiations. There is agreement under Article 3 of the Protocol on Northern Ireland and Ireland that the UK and Ireland ‘may continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories’. It further states that the UK shall ensure that the CTA and the rights and privileges associated with it can continue to apply without affecting the obligations of Ireland under Union law.

Therefore, Irish citizens and British citizens continue to have the same reciprocal rights associated with the CTA which include the right to work, study and vote, access to social welfare benefits and health services. Irish and British citizens will be able to continue to travel freely within the CTA without seeking immigration permission from the authorities. The CTA has been unaffected by Brexit negotiations and there has been no change to the Irish or UK approach to immigration and travel that falls within the CTA rules. Consequently, British citizens are not required to seek immigration permission from the Irish immigration authorities to travel to Ireland and there will be no routine immigration controls on journeys within the CTA.

Arrangements have been put in place by the Irish Government for non-EEA nationals who are a family member or dependent of a British citizen who as of 31 December 2020 hold a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) Card. These individuals continue to hold the same residence rights to live, work or study in Ireland. They will simply be required to exchange their current valid IRP Card for a new one. This card exchange programme applies from 1 January 2021 and will be administered by the Immigration Service of the Department of Justice.

All non-EEA family members or dependents of British citizens who are seeking to join or accompany the British citizen to live in Ireland after 23:00 on 31 December 2020 will need to apply for permission through a preclearance or visa scheme (depending on their nationality). This scheme applies to both visa required and non-visa required nationals.

Non-British citizens arriving in Ireland from the UK will need to ensure that they follow Ireland entry clearance requirements and standard Non-EEA citizen rules will continue to apply to entry to Ireland.

2. BUSINESS TRAVEL

2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?

Not if they are British citizens.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has not affected the right of British citizens to travel and work within the CTA. The associated rights and entitlements attaching to the CTA  have been protected by the Act. The associated rights and entitlements include the right to work within the CTA without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission.

If they are non-EEA employees (who are not British citizens) they are likely to require a business visa to travel to Ireland.

2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?

This depends on the nationality of the person travelling.

2.3 Do UK nationals need additional permission to work for business travel from 1 January 2021 ?

No.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has not affected the right of British citizens to work within the CTA. The associated rights and entitlements attaching to the CTA have been protected by the Act. The associated rights and entitlements include the right to work without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission.

3. EMPLOYMENT AND RESIDENCE

3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in Ireland from 1 January 2021?

No.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has not affected the right of British citizens to work within the CTA. The associated rights and entitlements attaching to the CTA have been protected by the Act. The associated rights and entitlements include the right to work without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission.

3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals? 

An employment permit will not be issued unless at the time of application at least 50% of the employees in the employer organisation are EEA nationals or nationals of the Swiss confederation or a combination of both. This rule is waived in limited circumstances.

The Act amended current employment permit legislation in Ireland so that citizens of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland will be counted when calculating the 50% threshold.

3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?

Not applicable.

3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?

Not applicable.

3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable?

Not applicable.

 

4. FRONTIER WORKERS

4.1 What formalities apply to UK frontier workers working in Ireland but living in another country from 1 January 2021?

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has not affected the right of British citizens to work within the CTA. The associated rights and entitlements attaching to the CTA have been protected by the Act which include the right to work without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission. Therefore, British citizens working in Ireland but holding their primary residence in the UK won’t be required to apply for any form of frontier work permit in order to work in Ireland.

 

5. PERMANENT RESIDENCE

5.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence?

British citizens are not required to obtain permanent residence in Ireland. This arrangement is to continue after Brexit.

Under the CTA, UK and Irish nationals enjoy a range of reciprocal rights, which include the right to enter and reside in each other’s state without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission.

All non-EEA family members or dependents of British citizens who are seeking to join or accompany a British citizen to live in Ireland after 23:00 on 31 December 2020 will need to apply for permission through a pre-clearance or visa scheme (depending on their nationality). This scheme applies to both visa required and non-visa required nationals.

Non-EEA nationals and their families have a right to apply for permanent residence once they have a five-year uninterrupted period of residence in Ireland.

 

6. SECURING RESIDENCE AND WORK STATUS

6.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?

None.

As above, under the CTA, UK and Irish nationals enjoy a range of reciprocal rights, which includes the right to enter and reside in each other’s state without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission.