Croatian nationals right to reside

Eligibility for homelessness assistance of Croatian nationals and their family members during and after the accession period.

This content applies to England

Eligibility rules before and after 1 January 2021

Before 1 January 2021 these rules applied to EEA nationals and their family members who were exercising EU free movement rights in the UK.

After 1 January 2021 these eligibility rules continue to apply to EEA nationals and their family members who have either:[1]

The information and footnotes are kept for reference only and will not be updated.

EEA nationals moving to the UK from 1 January 2021 are subject to new eligibility rules.

Access of Croatian nationals to UK labour market

The Republic of Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013.

The UK introduced a scheme to limit access of Croatian nationals to the UK labour market for a limited time known as the 'accession period'.

Until 30 June 2018, workers from the Republic of Croatia were subject to worker authorisation. They were not eligible for housing assistance unless they were exempt from worker authorisation, or they held an accession worker authorisation document and worked within the conditions set out in it.

Worker Authorisation Scheme for Croatian nationals

Under the Accession of Croatia Regulations,[2] non-exempt Croatian workers had a right to reside and work in the UK, and were eligible for homelessness assistance during the first year of their employment, only if they held an accession worker authorisation document and were working within the conditions set out in it.[3]

Guidance for local authorities regarding Croatian nationals' right to reside and entitlement to benefits during the accession period is contained in Housing Benefit Circular A16/2013 and in a MHCLG letter about housing eligibility of Croatian nationals.

Jobseekers

Prior to the ending of the restrictions, Croatian nationals who were subject to worker authorisation did not have the right to reside in the UK as jobseekers.[4] Croatian nationals subject to worker authorisation may have had the right to reside, for example as a self-sufficient person, but would not normally have been able to claim benefits or housing.

Criminal offence for unauthorised work

It was a criminal offence for a Croatian national to work in the UK without authorisation or to obtain it by deception. Unauthorised Croatian workers and their employers were liable to a fine and imprisonment.[5]

End of accession period

The restrictions imposed on Croatian nationals by the Worker Authorisation Scheme ended on 30 June 2018.

From 1 July 2018, Croatian nationals had the same rights of residence as other EEA nationals.

Exempt from worker authorisation

The following Croatian nationals were exempt from worker authorisation during the accession period and were treated in the same way as other EEA nationals with full rights:[6]

  • a diplomat and family members

  • a person who had leave to enter or remain in the UK without employment restrictions on 30 June 2013 or was given such leave after this date

  • a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, same sex partner or child under 18 of a person with leave to enter or remain (as long as that leave entitled the person to work)

  • a person who, on 30 June 2013, was legally working in the UK and had legally worked for a continuous period of 12 months. The period of 12 months could include time spent legally working in the UK before 30 June 2013 (for example under a work visa) and time spent working in the UK on or after that date and authorised or exempt from authorisation under other provisions. The exemption also applied to the family members as specifically defined

  • a Croatian who was also a national of the UK or another EEA state. The exemption also applied to family members

  • a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner of a UK national or person with indefinite leave who was ordinarily resident in the UK

  • a person who had a permanent right of residence after five years lawful residence exercising EU Treaty rights. This also applied to family members

  • a person who was a highly skilled person with unconditional access to the UK labour market who had a registration certificate to prove this

  • a person who was a family member of an EEA national with a right to reside in the UK. Where that EEA national was a Croatian national subject to worker authorisation, in order to be exempt the person must have been the spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner, or direct descendant under 21 or dependant of the spouses or civil partners

  • a student who had leave to remain as such who was working in accordance with the conditions of their leave

  • a student who held an EEA registration certificate as a student and worked less than 20 hours a week during term-time (unless working as part of the training), or worked as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer, or worked full-time during the holidays, or was working having finished the course less than four months previously, and held the appropriate registration certificate

  • a posted worker within the meaning of the European Posting of Workers Directive[7]

Losing the right to reside

Croatian nationals lost the right to reside if they stopped working for their authorised employer under the terms of their worker authorisation for any reason, or if such authorisation was revoked.[8] Temporary inability to work because of an illness or accident meant that a person was unable to retain worker status and eligibility for assistance, unless the period of unemployment was limited to 30 days within the 12-month period and the person returned to work.[9]

In a case concerning an A8 national, which should apply equally to a Croatian national, the Upper Tribunal held that where the A8 national (who had lived in the UK for two years) stopped working within the first 12 months of her employment because she became permanently incapacitated, she did not cease to be eligible for assistance.[10]

Completion of 12 months' authorised work

Once Croatian nationals completed 12 months' authorised employment, they no longer required authorisation to work and had the same rights as workers of EEA states with full rights.[11] The period of 12 months normally needed to be without interruption, meaning that any gaps in the worker's record of authorised work must have amounted to no more than 30 days.[12]

Family members' eligibility for homelessness assistance

During the accession period, the rules on eligibility for homelessness assistance for family members of Croatian nationals mirrored that of their relative. If Croatian workers were authorised and eligible, their

Family members' right to work in the UK

Whether or not a family member of a Croatian national in the UK was subject to worker authorisation depended on their nationality and, in some cases, what kind of family member they were.

Croatian national family member

  • Croatian national family members of a Croatian national who was exempt from worker authorisation were also exempt from worker authorisation[13]

  • Croatian national family members of a Croatian national who was subject to worker authorisation and who was working in the UK within the conditions set out in a valid accession worker authorisation document were exempt from worker authorisation. In this context, family members of a Croatian national who was subject to worker authorisation means only spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, same sex partner, and child(ren) (including those of a spouse or civil partner) under the age of 21 or older but dependant[14]

  • Croatian national family members of other EEA nationals with a right of residence were exempt from worker authorisation[15]

EEA national family member

The right to work of an EEA national was independent of any family relationship to a Croatian national, as it was a basic Treaty right. There was no need for an EEA national to be authorised to work.

Non-EEA national family member

Non-EEA family members of a Croatian national who was exempt from worker authorisation could apply for a residence card in order to prove their right to work in the UK.

Non-EEA family members of a Croatian national who was subject to work authorisation and who was working in the UK within the conditions set out in a valid accession worker authorisation document could apply for a family member residence stamp in order to prove their right to work in the UK.

Self-employment and other rights

With regards to the right to self-employment, the right to provide and receive services, the right to reside as a student, and the general right to free movement, Croatian nationals and their family members generally had the same rights as other EEA nationals with full rights.

Permanent right to reside

An EEA national who resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years in accordance with the UK Regulations had a permanent right to reside in the UK.[16]

A Croatian national needed to show that periods of employment requiring authorisation were in fact authorised in order to constitute a period of lawful residence and count towards the five years residence needed for a permanent right to reside. In exceptional cases, the strict requirement for compliance with authorisation may be disproportionate.

Last updated: 17 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    see the The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 (Consequential, Saving, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1309 and The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1209.

  • [2]

    Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [3]

    Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294, as amended by Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1467. See also Social Security (Croatia) Amendment Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1474.

  • [4]

    reg 5 Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [5]

    regs 11-17 Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [6]

    reg 2 Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [7]

    Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services.

  • [8]

    reg 10 Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [9]

    reg 2(5)(c)(ii) Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [10]

    SSWP v NZ (ESA) (Third interim decision) [2017] UKUT 360 (AAC).

  • [11]

    reg 2(4) Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [12]

    reg 2(5)(c) Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [13]

    reg 2(13) and reg 2(14) Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [14]

    reg 2(13) and reg 2(14) Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [15]

    reg 2(13) Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1460.

  • [16]

    reg15 Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052.