With just one year to go before the UK Government’s Settled Status Scheme closes, farmers employ seasonal and permanent workers from the EU are reminded to encourage all their staff who wish to work in the UK in future years to apply to the Scheme.
EU citizens (and their families) living in the UK before December 31, 2020, will need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme before June 30, 2021, to obtain their new UK immigration status should they wish to continue living and working in the UK.
The scheme entitles Settled Status to EU nationals who have already been in the country for five years or more; and Pre-Settled Status to EU nationals who have been in the country for under five years.
NFU Scotland is reminding employers of seasonal workers that the 'Pre-Settled Status' category can be accessed by any seasonal worker in the country this year, who wishes to return in future years.
For this reason, it highlights both status categories are vital for employers of workers from the EU in both permanent and seasonal capacities.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “For decades the Scottish agricultural sector has benefited from the contribution the many workers from other EU countries have made. Their skill and commitment to the industry is vital.
"It is therefore important we encourage members to remind any permanent or seasonal workers they employ to apply to the Settled Status Scheme which can secure their future employment opportunities in the UK.
For EU nationals who’ve been living and working in Scotland [or the rest of the] UK continuously for five years, Settled Status will give them indefinite leave to remain – this is vital for any workers from outside the UK who are working here in a permanent capacity.
“Any EU nationals who have taken up employment in the UK by December 31, 2020, can apply for pre-settled status which ensures they can work in the UK for a further five years from the date Pre-Settled status is achieved.
“Importantly, seasonal staff from the EU are entitled to apply for Pre-Settled status as there is no threshold for time spent living and working in the UK in order to make an application.
"This will be vital for any existing seasonal workers who wish to return to work in Scotland or the UK in the next five years."
New points-based system
The UK Government will introduce a new points-based system of immigration on January 1, 2021, following the end of free movement of citizens from the EU.
“NFU Scotland remains concerned that the new points-based system will not provide the necessary flexibility to ensure that labour-market gaps in Scottish agriculture and ancillary industries can be filled beyond 2021 and is engaging with and strongly lobbying the Home Office to ensure the new Points Based System is fit-for-purpose," McCornick added.
“NFU Scotland encourages all employers of EU nationals, if they have not already, to engage with staff about their plans beyond January 1, and, where suitable, to encourage their registration through this important Scheme.”