On 1st July Croatia will accede to the EU. The Home Office has already issued regulations to govern this, known as the Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013. These regulations create a hybrid scheme for Croatian nationals, similar in intent to the Workers Registration Scheme that existed for A8 nationals until May 2011.
Apart from some exceptions, Croatian nationals will require a worker authorisation registration certificate. This links into the existing PBS system, whilst entry clearance will not be required, Croatian nationals will be required to obtain certificates of sponsorship under Tier 1 as a pre-requisite to obtaining a registration certificate. Under WRS this was linked to the old Work Permits UK.
The existing Tier 2 limits will also apply, however Croatian nationals will be given priority.
The regulations create various penalties both for employees and employers for working without the registration certificate. In a similar fashion to the WRS once there has been 12 months continuous employment the requirement to be registered falls away and similar rights to other EEA nationals are enjoyed. The regulations make amendments to the now quite revised 2006 EEA regulations to accommodate this.
Any Croatian national intending to come to work here would be advised to comply with the scheme. Historically non-compliance with the WRS could cause problems further down the line, such as an inability to acquire permanent residence.
Employers should note that the usual skill requirement of NQF6 (degree level) has been decreased to NQF4. This enables employers to recruit Croatian nationals for new roles in a wider list of occupations than for non-EEA nationals.