by Lieven Goossens and Hannelore Durieu
On 1 January 2021, Brexit will bring the free movement of people between the EU and the United Kingdom to an end. From this date, Belgians moving to the UK or UK citizens moving to Belgium will be treated as third-country nationals. What does this mean for European nationals who are currently working in the UK, or British workers in our country? What are the specific requirements for employment in another country? We found out for you.
To avoid problems for workers currently working abroad, both Belgium and the United Kingdom have established provisions so that these workers may continue to live in the country. They can then continue to do their present job without encountering significant problems.
In the United Kingdom, this is done through the EU Settlement Scheme. If you're an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply online to keep living in the UK. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. In your application, you must be able to prove that you moved to the United Kingdom before 31 December 2020. If your application is successful, you will get either "settled status" (if you have lived in the United Kingdom for longer than five years) or "pre-settled status" (if you have lived in the United Kingdom for less than five years). You can then continue to live and work in the United Kingdom after 30 June 2021.
Every UK national who has a valid electronic E(+) card by 1 January 2021 may continue to live and work in Belgium. This also applies as long as you submitted your application for an electronic E(+) card by 1 January 2021.
If you are a UK national who has been resident in Belgium for at least five years, the statute for long-term residence applies. In this case, you will be invited by the town you live in to apply for a new type of residence permit during 2021.
Cross-border workers will also still be able to work in Belgium. To do so, you will need to have the document "Annex 15", provided by the town where you work. This document confirms your status as a cross-border worker.
If you want to take up employment in a different country after 1 January 2021, you need to be aware that you will be considered a third-country national in the other country. This applies both ways, to Belgians wanting to work in the UK, or vice versa, but the situation is different in the United Kingdom and in Belgium.
In the United Kingdom, you will need to apply for a work visa based on the particular activities you plan to carry out. It will still be possible to travel to the United Kingdom for a short period.
In Belgium, it will be possible to apply for a combined permit to allow UK nationals to be employed on Belgian territory from 1 January 2021. To help the process go smoothly, all regions are already accepting applications from UK nationals for the combined permit.
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