Right to reside of A2 nationals

Requirements that Romanian and Bulgarian nationals and their family members had to meet during and after the accession period to be eligible for assistance.

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 A2 nationals to UK labour market

The A2 countries are Bulgaria and Romania. They joined the EU in January 2007.

The UK introduced schemes to limit the access of A2 nationals to the UK labour market for a limited time known as the 'accession period'.

The restrictions imposed on A2 nationals by the Worker Authorisation Scheme expired on 31 December 2013.

A2 Worker Authorisation Scheme

Under the Worker Authorisation Scheme, an A2 national had a right to reside in the UK, and was eligible for homelessness assistance during the first year of employment, if that employment was authorised during the period of accession.[2]

The Worker Authorisation Regulations[3] required an A2 worker who was not in an exempt group to obtain prior authorisation before taking up employment.

The accession period ended on 31 December 2013.[4]

Exempt from authorisation

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals were not subject to worker authorisation if they:

  • on 31 December 2006, had leave to enter or remain in the UK without any restriction on their employment or were given such leave after that date

  • had been legally working in the UK without interruption throughout the period from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2006

  • were also a national of the UK or another EEA state

  • were the spouse or civil partner of a UK national or of a person settled in the UK

  • had a permanent right of residence under regulation 15 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations (ie after five years' residence in exercise of EU Treaty rights)[5]

  • were a family member of an EEA national with a right to reside in the UK

  • were a 'highly skilled person' with a registration certificate to prove this

  • were a student who did not work for more than 20 hours a week during term-time (unless working as part of their training), or worked full-time during the holidays, or was working having finished her/his course less than four months previously, and held the appropriate registration certificate[6]

  • were the spouse, civil partner or child aged under 18 of a person who had leave to enter or remain in the UK without restriction on employment[7]

Losing the right to reside

Bulgarian or Romanian nationals would lose their right to reside if, during the first year of their authorised employment, they stopped working as per the terms of their working authorisation.[8] Temporary inability to work because of an illness or accident meant that they were 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 they returned to work.[9]

Completes 12 months' authorised employment

Bulgarian or Romanian nationals who completed 12 months' authorised employment were no longer required to register under the Worker Authorisation Scheme and had the same rights as other EEA workers.

Permanent right to reside after five years' residence

EEA nationals who have resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years in accordance with UK Regulations have a permanent right to reside in the UK.[10]

A2 nationals needed to show that periods of employment that fell under the requirement for authorisation complied with the Worker Authorisation Scheme in order to constitute a period of lawful residence and count towards the five years' residence needed for a permanent right to reside.[11]

Jobseekers

A2 nationals who entered the UK as jobseekers during the accession period had no right to reside unless they satisfied the self-sufficiency requirement set out in the Citizenship Directive.[12]

Asylum applications

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who made an asylum application before 1 January 2007 are still entitled to be accommodated by UKVI and to have a decision on their asylum claim.

Family members during accession period

In most cases the family members of A2 workers working in the UK in accordance with any authorisation requirements had a right to reside in the UK and were eligible for assistance with social housing. The principal exception applied to the family members of A2 nationals who were authorised to work in the UK as seasonal agricultural workers or au pairs.[13]

Unauthorised employment of A2 workers could not give rise to a 'Baumbast' derivative right to reside in the UK as the primary carer of a child in education.[14]

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, A2 nationals and their family members generally had the same rights as all other EEA nationals even prior to 1 January 2014.

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]

    Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3340 and Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317, as amended by Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/475 and by Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 SI 2011/2816.

  • [3]

    reg 2 Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317, as amended by Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/475.

  • [4]

    reg 1(2)(c) Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317, as amended by reg 2 Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 SI 2011/2816.

  • [5]

    reg 15 Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052.

  • [6]

    reg 2(10)-(10B) Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317, as amended by Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/475, subject to transitional provisions in reg 4(1) Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/475.

  • [7]

    reg 2 Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317, as amended by reg 2 Accession (Worker Authorisation and Worker Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 SI 2009/2426.

  • [8]

    reg 6 Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317.

  • [9]

    reg 2(12)(c) Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/3317.

  • [10]

    reg 15 Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052.

  • [11]

    para 1, sch. 4, Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052.

  • [12]

    Directive 2004/38/EC on the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

  • [13]

    reg 2(3) Accession (Worker Authorisation and Worker Registration) (Amendment) regulations 2007 SI 2007/3012.

  • [14]

    HMRC v IT (CTC) UKUT 252 (AAC).