Employing Bulgarian and Romanian nationals
- Work Permit applications
- Categories exempt from the need to apply for a Work Permit
- Categories exempt from the need to apply for an Accession Worker Card
Work Permit applications
Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are now able to move and reside freely in any EU Member State. They do not require entry clearance or a visa to enter and reside legally in the UK. However, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals do not yet have free right to work in the UK and still need to obtain authorisation to work before starting any employment, unless they are exempt from doing so. The process for obtaining authorisation to work is in two stages: the UK employer first applies for approval of the employment under the work permit arrangements; the Bulgarian or Romanian national must then apply for an Accession Worker Card.
Work permits for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals can be applied for under the old Work Permit arrangements using the WP1 form. The old sponsored researcher route also remains open for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals only. You may use form SR1 to apply for a sponsored researcher permit. All the normal qualifying criteria for work permits (for instance, the requirement to advertise) still relate when applying to employ Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. There are some aspects of the old work permit arrangements that are not relevant to Bulgarian or Romanian nationals. These include:
- Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will not be subject to immigration control. They will not require leave to enter or remain and therefore Multiple Entry work permits will not be issued.
- We are not required to inform the Home Office of a Technical Change of Employment.
- Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who have been working without interruption for a period of 12 months or more without restriction become exempt from work authorisation requirements. Therefore we are not required to seek an extension of the initial approval under the work permit arrangements. However, if the initial work permit is issued for less than 12 months and a department wishes to carry on employing the individual, an extension will be required using form WP1X.
- An Accession Worker Card will be valid for as long as the Bulgarian or Romanian worker remains in the employment for which the card has been issued. We will not therefore need to seek an extension of the initial approval under the work permit arrangements.
If an application made under the work permit arrangements is approved, a letter of approval will be issued by the UK Border Agency. This, on its own, does not authorise work in the UK for a Bulgarian or Romanian national. To obtain authorisation the Bulgarian or Romanian national should, upon receipt of the letter of approval, complete an application for an Accession Worker Card on form BR3 and submit it, along with the necessary supporting documents, to the UK Border Agency. Only on receipt of the Accession Worker Card can the person commence work.
If the Bulgarian or Romanian national has any dependants who wish to work, study, be self-employed or be self-sufficient in the UK they will need to make a separate application. Further details and guidance on which form to use can be found on the UK Border Agency website.
Categories exempt from the need to apply for a Work Permit
The following categories of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals can apply for an Accession Worker Card, using form BR3 without their employer first applying for a work permit:
- Postgraduate doctors, dentists and trainee general practitioners
- Language assistants
- Overseas qualified nurses coming for a period of supervised practice
Categories exempt from the need to apply for an Accession Worker Card
In addition, certain categories of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will not need to apply for an Accession Worker Card, including those who have been in continuous, authorised employment in the UK for a period of 12 months. Individuals in these categories can apply for a registration certificate proving their exemption from the requirement to obtain authorisation to work using form BR1.
The following categories can work without restriction and do not need to apply for an Accession Worker Card:
- Individuals who have leave to enter under the Immigration Act 1971 and whose leave does not place any restrictions on taking employment in the UK. For example, someone who has been given leave to enter/remain as the spouse of a British citizen, as the dependant of a work permit holder, or as the dependant of a student with a visa valid for more than 12 months.
- Individuals who have been working with permission, and without interruption, in the UK for a period of 12 months. For example, someone already present in the UK as a work permit holder, or as a student who has been in part-time employment continuously for 12 months.
- Individuals providing services in the UK on behalf of an employer based elsewhere in the EEA.
General guidance on obtaining an Accession Worker Card or a Registration Certificate can be found on the UK Border Agency website.