On 1st July 2013, Croatia joined the European Union, which allows nationals of Croatia to move and reside freely in any EU Member States.
This means that if you are a Croatian national then you do not need permission to enter and live in the United Kingdom. However, if you wish to work in the UK then you must apply for permission from the Home Office before starting any employment as a result of the transitional provisions that have been put in place by the UK.
This means that a Croatian national is only allowed to engage in certain categories of employment and will need to apply for a work authorisation document (usually a purple registration certificate) before they can start employment, unless they are exempt from this requirement. Employers must also have a certificate of sponsorship reference number before they can employ a Croatian national.
Once a Croatian national has been working legally as an employee in the UK for 12 months without a break, then they will have full rights of free movement and will no longer need Home Office permission to work.
Alternatively, if you are a Croatian national and wish to study in the UK then you do not need to be sponsored under Tier 4. Students are also able to work for any employer for up to 20 hours per week during term time, full time hours when on vacation and for a 4 month period once their course has ended, although they must first obtain a yellow registration certificate confirming their student status. If a Croatian national does not have a yellow registration certificate or wants to work more hours then an accession worker authorisation document is required.
A Croatian national may also be self-employed in the UK without permission from the Home Office, although must be certain that they are not working as employees.
If you are a Croatian national working in the UK without the proper authorisation then this could lead to criminal penalties for both the employee and the employer. This may also cause serious problems if the Croatian national is later making an application for permanent residence.
Further information or advice for Croatian nationals or employers can be found by contacting any member of our Immigration Team.