Hard Brexit’s effect on UK citizens’ employment and residence in the CR
At the end of March, two years will have elapsed from the moment the United Kingdom announced its intention to withdraw from the EU. If the British parliament does not approve the agreement on the conditions of the withdrawal by that time, the governmental bill regulating some relationships in connection with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland withdrawal from the EU (“the Brexit Act”) will enter into effect. The Act regulates, among other things, the conditions of UK citizens’ employment and residence in the CR in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The withdrawal agreement in its present wording stipulates that for a transition period (until 31 December 2020), EU law, including rules regulating the free movement of persons, will continue to apply to the United Kingdom.
If the agreement is not passed and Brexit not postponed, UK citizens will become “third-country foreigners” once the UK exits the EU. To mitigate the intensity of the changes, the Brexit Act stipulates a transition period during which a special regime will apply, providing UK citizens in the Czech territory with more advantageous conditions than other foreigners.
The Brexit Act stipulates that Czechia will not require work (employment) permits from UK citizens and their family members provided that their employment commenced before Brexit. Of course, this will only apply during the transition period; after that, UK citizens will have to obtain such permits. However, they will have to get a residency permit, even during the transition period.
The Brexit Act provides for the possibility to apply for temporary residence for a period longer than three months. Under the Brexit Act, UK citizens or their family members who have obtained a certificate of temporary residence or have applied for it before Brexit will have the right to stay in the territory of the CR, which they may exercise until the end of the transition period, or until the temporary residence certificate expires or is terminated.
Apart from temporary residence, the Brexit Act also regulates long-term or permanent residence, providing some advantages to UK nationals. Applicants for long-term residence, for instance, do not have to meet the condition of prior residence based on a long-term visa, i.e. do not have to prove having had a visa for stays of over 90 days. Applicants for permanent residence will have the time of their temporary residence included in the required period of uninterrupted stay and will not have to submit documents proving their knowledge of Czech.
Last but not least, the Brexit Act regulates the conditions for UK citizens to acquire Czech citizenship, if they apply before the Brexit date. A precondition for acquiring citizenship is permanent residence in the Czech territory for three years for EU citizens, and for five years for other foreigners. UK nationals who have applied for Czech citizenship before Brexit will be viewed as EU citizens, and will therefore only have to meet the shorter permanent residence requirement, i.e. three years.
As of this day, it is not clear when and in what form the United Kingdom will withdraw from the EU. We therefore recommend that UK citizens working in the Czech Republic at least obtain a certificate of temporary residence to legalise their status in our territory in case of a hard Brexit.