On 18 October 2012 the British Government introduced the European Union (Croatian Accession) Bill to Parliament. The bill includes provisions for transitional access arrangements for Croatian nationals.
Croatia is expected to join the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2013, which will mean that companies wishing to hire Croatian nationals will in theory benefit from the European rules on Free Movement. The rules allow EU nationals to travel and work freely in the Member States, without the need for obtaining work authorisation first.
However, the UK Government reserves the right to put in place transitional arrangements which will restrict Croatian nationals’ access to the UK labour market, just as similar arrangements were imposed when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007.
The Home Office has published a Statement of Intent setting out the transitional restrictions which it expects to apply to Croatian nationals working in the UK after 1 July 2013. Companies should make themselves aware of key provisions including the following:
- After 1 July 2013, Croatian nationals will no longer be subject to immigration control and will have an unrestricted right to enter and reside (but not to work) in the UK for up to 3 months.
- Croatian nationals will instead be subject to a requirement to obtain work authorisation if they intend to undertake employment in the UK.
- Certain categories of Croatian nationals will be exempt from the work authorisation requirement, including those legally present in the UK on the date of accession and who, on that date, are not subject to any restrictions on working and those who work legally for an uninterrupted period of 12 months falling partly or wholly after the date of accession.
- Croatian nationals who meet the criteria for a grant of leave to enter under the current Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category or the previous Tier 1 (Post Study) category of the Immigration Rules can be issued with a registration certificate confirming that the holder has free access to the labour market and is therefore exempt from the requirement to obtain work authorisation if they intend to take employment.