Employing Croatian nationals

As Croatia joined the European Union on 1 July 2013 Croatian nationals now no longer require entry clearance or a visa to enter and reside legally in the UK for up to 3 months. However, Croatian 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 Croatian national first applies for a Certificate of Sponsorship from the University (issued by the Staff Immigration Team) under the Points Based System; the Croatian national must then apply for a Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate (also referred to as a Purple Registration Certificate).

Certificate of Sponsorship applications

Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) for Croatian nationals can be applied for under the Tier 2 (General) or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) routes within the Points Based System. All the normal requirements under Tier 5 still apply to Croatian nationals who apply under that route. The broad requirements under Tier 2 (for instance, the advertising and salary requirements) still apply to Croatian nationals, however, there are some differences, namely:

  • work is permitted at NQF Level 4 and above (as opposed to the current Tier 2 required skill level of NQF 6 and above);
  • the English language requirement does apply;
  • the maintenance requirements do not apply;
  • the Tier 2 'Cooling-off' period does not apply.

There are some aspects of the Points Based System that are not relevant to Croatian nationals. These include:

  • Croatian nationals will not be subject to immigration control. They will not require leave (a visa) to enter or remain and therefore after their CoS has been issued they will not need to apply for either a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa. They will, however, need to apply for and obtain a Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate (also referred to as a Purple Registration Certificate) before commencing employment.
  • Croatian nationals who have been working without interruption for a period of 12 months or more without restriction become exempt from work authorisation requirements. Therefore an extension of their CoS will not be required unless the CoS was issued for less than 12 months and the department wishes to carry on employing the individual.
  • Similarly reporting duties in relation to Croatian nationals who hold a Tier 2 or Tier 5 CoS will cease after they have been working without interruption for a period of 12 months or more without restriction.

Please note that the issuing of a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), on its own, does not authorise work in the UK for a Croatian national. To obtain authorisation the Croatian national should, upon receipt of the CoS, complete an application for a Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate (Purple Registration Certificate)  on form CR3 and submit it, along with the neccessary supporting documents, to the Home Office. Only on receipt of the Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate (Purple Registration Certificate) can the person commence work.

The family members of a Croatian national who is working in accordance with the work authorisation requirements will not themselves be subject to the work authorisation requirement. Further details and guidance on rights of employment for family members of Croatian nationals can be found on the Home Office website.

Categories exempt from the need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship

The following categories of Croatian nationals are required to obtain authorisation to work but can apply for a Registration Certificate for a Croatian exercising a Treaty Right in the UK (referred to as either a Blue or Yellow Registration Certificate depending on category) using form CR1 or CR2 without first having to apply for a Certificate of Sponsonship:

  • Individuals who meet the criteria for a grant of leave under the current Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category, having been endorsed by a designated body as per the relevant requirements. In this case form CR2 would be used to apply for a Blue Registration Certificate;
  • Individuals who will be studying in the UK and wish to engage in part-time and vacation work, or a work placement. In this case form CR1 would be used to apply for a Yellow Registration Certificate.

Categories exempt from the need to apply for a Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate

Certain categories of Croatian nationals will not be required to obtain work authorisation and can instead apply for a Registration Certificate for a Croatian exercising a Treaty Right in the UK (referred to as a Blue Registration Certificate) proving their exemption from this requirement using form CR1. The following categories can work without restriction and do not need to apply for a Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate (Purple Registration Certificate):

  • Individuals who have leave 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 or visa 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 or visa holder, or as a student who has been in part-time employment continuously for 12 months.
  • Individuals who have been working with permission, and without interruption, in the UK for a period of less than 12 months will no longer be subject to work authorisation after they have worked for 12 months.

Work in a self-employed capacity is not subject to work authorisation, however, those exercising a right to reside as a self-employed, or a self-sufficient, person (who should hold a Yellow Registration Certificate confirming this) will be subject to work authorisation in the event that they go on to engage in work in an employed capacity. Please note therefore that when performing a right to work check if a Yellow Registration Certificate is presented the category and conditions under which this has been granted must be established in order to determine whether the individual has the right to work in the UK.

General guidance on obtaining a Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate (Purple Registration Certificate) or Registration Certificate for a Croatian exercising a Treaty Right in the UK (Blue Registration Certificate or Yellow Registration Certificate) can be found on the Home Office website.

Brexit

There is currently no requirement for EU nationals to register for any documentation to confirm their status in the UK, however, in light of the uncertainties about Brexit those who want to apply for documentation confirming their status could consider the following options:

  • Those who have worked in the UK for less than 5 years can apply for a Registration Certificate
  • Those who have worked in the UK for at least 5 years have a permanent right to reside and can apply for a Permanent Residence Certificate
  • Those who have worked in the UK for at least 6 years are eligible to apply for British citizenship (but must obtain a Permanent Residence Certificate first), as are children born in the UK whose parent(s) have Permanent Residence.

Years spent carrying out other activities in the UK can also be relied on, such as those spent as a student as long as comprehensive medical cover was held. Family members of EU nationals who have been working and/or studying here should also be eligible to apply under these routes.

Croatian nationals can rely on time in the UK before Croatia joined the European Union.

For more information see the University’s Oxford and Brexit dedicated site for Brexit news, information and academic analysis, and Information for EU staff page which provides a video podcast of an information session along with the presentation slides and a Q&A.

The Staff Immigration Team provide guidance on the requirements, and application process, for EEA Registration Certificates and Permanent Residence but are not in a position to check applications.