Regulations have been approved by the UK Parliament to manage the flow of new workers into the United Kingdom from Romania and Bulgaria. Both nations are set to join the European Union on 01 January 2007, forming the EU-27.
This follows a decision by the Home Office on 24 October to put transitional arrangements in place for Bulgaria and Romania while UK continues immigration reform efforts and analysis of the wider ramifications of an expanded EU.
The focus of the new regulations is the restriction of low-skilled workers to existing quota schemes in the agricultural and food processing sectors. Skilled workers who qualify for work permits or the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme can still work in the UK. Self-employed individuals may also work in the UK under the European Union treaty so long as they meet other financial viability qualifications.
The aim is to provide workers from Bulgaria and Romania with "gradual" access to the UK labour market after their accession to the EU. Workers from both countries will have standard EU citizenship rights to enter the UK and stay for three months.
However, if they wish to work in the UK, they need to get a special "work authorisation document" unless they are exempt for certain reasons, such as already residing in the UK under prior authorisation before accession. In most cases, those who will qualify for this document are people who meet the criteria for skilled labour under current work permit requirements or the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.
Lower skilled labourers can also qualify, but under more limited circumstances. They must come under a restricted set of conditions such as the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme. These existing schemes will move to being restricted to workers from Romania and Bulgaria.
Those who have received permission to work in the UK through this process will then need to hold an Accession Work Card or a Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme work card to be legally able to work in the UK. Accession Work Cards will need to be issued in respect to a specific job with a specific employer if all qualifying criteria are met. They can also be issued for certain other criteria, such as if a prospective worker is a sole representative of an overseas business.
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