Europeans in the Isle of Man: a Brave New World

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Europeans in the Isle of Man: a Brave New World

IOM and EU flags

Working in the Isle of Man just became rather more complicated for many Europeans, their families and their employers, explains Kinley Legal’s Christopher Kinley.

While Isle of Man residents were given no say in the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the implications of Brexit have had a profound effect upon the rights of Europeans and their families to live and work in the Isle of Man. The UK having left the EU impacts not only on EU citizens and their families, but also on those from other European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) as well as Switzerland.


“Old” Europeans

Europeans who were in the Isle of Man exercising their EU rights by 31 December 2020, together with their partners and children, have special status to continue to live and work there, provided that they register those rights under the so-called “EU Settlement Scheme”.

Those who have not yet applied for either pre-settled status (Limited Leave to Remain) or settled status (Indefinite Leave to Remain) under the Scheme should apply as soon as possible, and in any case by 30 June 2021.

The Scheme is a very beneficial way for these Europeans and their families easily to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain in the Isle of Man. For people subject to the full immigration system, obtaining this status would typically cost several thousand pounds in government fees, and they would have to pass the English language and Life in the UK and Islands tests.

Europeans and their family members with pre-settled or settled status can be employed by Isle of Man employers without any further immigration permission, although they may need work permits.

In due course, Europeans who have passed the English language and Life in the UK and Islands tests can apply to become British citizens. Most (but not all) European countries permit dual or multiple citizenship.


New arrivals

Europeans arriving in the Isle of Man from 1 January 2021 are in a very different position, unless they have family members who arrived earlier.

The Coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions have meant that relatively few Europeans have moved to the Isle of Man in the first few months of 2021. As restrictions ease, we expect to see many more people surprised by the requirements now imposed on their moving to the Isle of Man, when Europeans were able to do so easily while the UK was an EU member state.

As in the UK, most Europeans will now have to go through the full immigration system in order to obtain permission to live and work in the Isle of Man. This means additional costs in terms of immigration application fees, legal expenses, qualification requirements and the need to pass tests for English language and the Life in the UK and Islands Test.


Which immigration routes may apply?

The most common immigration routes that may apply are five-year routes, including:

  • Isle of Man Worker route – this is the most common immigration route to the Isle of Man. Requirements include having a job offer from an Isle of Man employer in advance, evidenced by a formal Confirmation of Employment confirming that the position and salary are eligible, and needing formal evidence of English language ability and maintenance funds.
  • Family routes – these are for the spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners and dependent children of British citizens and other people permanently settled in the Isle of Man. Requirements include passing an onerous financial test showing that you have a specified income level or amount of savings to support the family.

However, where Europeans wish to come to the Isle of Man to set up their own business, the Start Up and Innovator routes are highly recommended, even for those that potentially qualify for one of the more common routes.

Start Up and Innovator are suitable for Europeans with an original business idea wishing to set up in the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man, with its excellent infrastructure and access to UK markets, competitive tax rates and government business support, is a destination of choice for both new and re-located businesses.

Start Up is a two-year route to prove a business idea, which allows a person then to potentially move on to the Innovator route. The whole immigration programme takes five years.

Direct access to the Innovator route is particularly beneficial for more experienced entrepreneurs with capital to invest in the business. It potentially allows Europeans and their families to complete the Isle of Man immigration system and obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain after only three years, compared with the usual five.

After completing the immigration requirements, Europeans can in due course apply to become British citizens. Most (but not all) European countries permit dual or multiple citizenship.

Why does this matter to employers?

Employers considering employing new arrivals from continental Europe need to know that they now have more immigration obligations than they did for their existing European staff.

In order to be eligible to employ a person under the Worker route, an employer needs to ensure that its business structure complies with the Immigration Rules and that it meets the requirement to hold a bank account in the Isle of Man. It must also ensure that the position pays a prescribed minimum salary and that, where required by the Rules, local workers have been given an opportunity to apply for the role ahead of the European worker.

While this responsibility that employers of overseas workers bear is a serious one, it is still far easier than the equivalent Skilled Worker route in the UK, which involves an employer needing to get a Sponsor Licence, get an allocation of workers it can sponsor, pay fees, Immigration Skills Charge and Immigration Health Surcharge per employee, and be subject to onerous obligations including an ever-present risk of compliance visits and the Sponsor Licence being suspended or revoked. The Isle of Man mercifully does not have any of these enhanced obligations and costs.

Not all Europeans are equal (but some are more equal than others)

Despite the EU’s efforts to ensure citizens of EU member states are treated equally, the Isle of Man immigration system offers preferential terms to citizens of certain EU countries – although everyone else is in a similarly complicated position.

Citizens of Malta and Cyprus, the two EU member states which are former British colonies, benefit from access to the British Ancestry work visa, which is open to citizens of countries which remain members of the Commonwealth of Nations. This means that citizens of Malta or Cyprus who can demonstrate they had at least one grandparent born in the Isle of Man, UK or Channel Islands can obtain a five-year work visa without needing to be sponsored in advance by an employer. They may still need work permits before they actually start work.

Irish citizens in the Isle of Man are in a particularly favourable position. As part of the longstanding arrangements between the UK and Ireland, which predate the EU and include the Common Travel Area, Irish citizens can live and work in the Isle of Man in exactly the same way as British citizens without immigration permission, although they may too need work permits. Irish citizens do not need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme to protect their rights.

To ask for an assessment in relation to your immigration status, or help with an EU Settlement Scheme or immigration application, please get in touch by e-mail at immigration@kinleylegal.com or just complete our simple contact form.

We would be pleased to arrange video meetings or telephone calls for both Isle of Man-based and international clients. We also expect to be in a position to re-commence face-to-face meetings for Isle of Man-based clients with effect from Monday 19 April 2021, after the end of lockdown.