The Worker Registration Scheme
The Worker Registration Scheme will close on 30th April 2011. The scheme was introduced when the A8 countries joined the European Economic Area. It requires workers from A8 countries to obtain a registration card and to work legally for a qualifying period of 12 months, without a break in their continuity of employment, before they become eligible for a residence permit.
The scheme is ending because the UK is only permitted to impose transitional restrictions on nationals of states joining the EEA for a period of 7 years; that time is now expiring in the case of A8 states.
After 30th April, workers from A8 states should be treated in the same way as other EEA nationals but note that nationals of Bulgaria and Romania will still require an Accession worker card.
The A8 states are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
This relaxation of the immigration rules is an inevitable consequence of the UK’s treaty obligations. It is welcome for removing one potential trap for the unwary HR officer but it will be interesting to see if and how this is balanced by the political consequences of extending some social welfare benefits to nationals of A8 states.