Last updated 8 January 2020
On 29 March 2017, the Government triggered Article 50, which began the formal process for the UK to leave the EU. The exit date has now been extended until 31 January 2020, with the option of leaving sooner if the government can agree a deal in Parliament.
The UK government has not yet made the Withdrawal Agreement into UK law, which can only be done through a Parliamentary process. This process started in December 2019 and is likely to be completed in early January 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement includes an agreement on citizens' rights during a transitional/ implementation period from the day after the UK leaves the EU. This is a period of time (which is likely to continue only until 31 December 2020) during which EU citizens and their family members can come to, or remain in, the UK on the same basis as they can now.
The UK has separately negotiated with Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland to reach a similar agreement on the rights of non-EU EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members (who will also benefit from the transitional period if the UK and the EU agree the terms of a Withdrawal Agreement).
The UK remains a full member until it exits the EU, and all rights and obligations of membership remain in place until then.
Getting ready for Brexit
Use the Home Office Brexit checker to find out what you will need to do to get ready for Britain's exit from the EU. It should only take a few minutes to complete.
European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss students
You are an EEA national if you are a citizen or national of one of the following countries:
- Republic of Cyprus
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
If you have permanent residence in any of these countries, but not citizenship you are not an EEA national.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are EEA member states, but they are not members of the European Union (EU).
Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the EEA. However, since 1 June 2002, Swiss nationals have had rights similar to those of nationals of EEA countries. The information in this area of the website applies to both EEA and Swiss nationals.
Citizens of Ireland
If you are an Irish national, Brexit will not change your status as Irish people are automatically deemed to hold settled status in the UK, so you are not required to do anything in preparation for Brexit. However, you can continue to apply for British citizenship if you meet the requirements. In particular, you must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days in the five year period before you apply, or 90 days in the year immediately before the application.
Travel advice around Brexit
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the rules will change.
Travellers who are going to the EU from the UK as we approach the 31 January 2020 deadline are advised to:
- check with the embassy of the country where they plan to visit to make sure they are aware of what type of visa, if any, may be needed
- check their passports for validity (and process any renewals online via the HM Passport Office if necessary)
- allow more time within itineraries
- be more vigilant when choosing a travel insurance policy as it is likely that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which currently allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country, could cease after 31 January 2020 for UK citizens going to the EU and for EU citizens in the UK.
Further information is available on the University of Bath travel blog
Current status of EU nationals coming to the UK after Brexit
The Government guidance pages provide information on what EU and EEA nationals will need to do to visit the UK after the UK leaves the EU, including whether they will need to apply for a visa.
If a final agreement is reached
EU, non-EU EEA and Swiss citizens and their eligible family members already in the UK on or before 31 January 2020 and those who come to the UK during the transitional/ implementation period (from 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020) can apply for immigration permission in the UK under a scheme designed by the UK government known as the EU Settlement Scheme. They will need to do this if they wish to remain in the UK after the end of the transitional / implementation period , or otherwise apply under another category of the Immigration Rules.
If no final agreement between the UK and the EU is reached
- The settlement scheme will still operate in the same way for EU citizens and their eligible family members who are resident in the UK before 11 pm on 31 January 2020 (with certain permissions for temporary absence) with an application deadline of 31 December 2020.
The UK government has reached separate agreements with the EFTA EEA countries and Switzerland protecting non-EU EEA citizens and their eligible family members and Swiss citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by 31 January 2020. They will be eligible to apply under the settlement scheme, but the deadlines within which to apply vary according to the two agreements.
- If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU citizens and their family members entering the UK after Brexit between 1 February 2020 until 31 December 2020 will be able to move to the UK and live, study, work and access benefits and services as they do now.
EU citizens and their close family members who move to the UK after Brexit and wish to stay beyond 2020 will need to apply for a UK immigration status granting them permission to stay. After Brexit, the Home Office will open a new voluntary immigration scheme – the European temporary leave to remain (Euro TLR) Scheme – to provide a route to apply for this immigration status. Applications will involve a simple online process and identity, security and criminality checks.
Successful applicants to the Euro TLR scheme will be granted a period of 36 months’ leave to remain in the UK, running from the date the leave is granted. This will provide EU citizens who move to the UK after exit and their employers with greater confidence and certainty during the transition period, and ensure that they have a secure legal status in the UK before the new immigration system is introduced from January 2021.
- A new immigration system is expected to be operating from 1 January 2021. Anyone intending to come to the UK from January 2021 will need to apply under the relevant category of the Immigration Rules in place at that time. We will update our pages as new information is released.
Prospective EEA students concerned about the duration of study leave granted in a no deal scenario may choose to apply for a Tier 4 visa instead.
Current status of UK nationals in the EU
Until the UK leaves the EU, the UK remains a full member of the EU and UK nationals retain their legal status as EU citizens. There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in the EU while the UK remains in the EU. All UK nationals lawfully residing in another EU Member State on 31 December 2020 will be covered by the citizens’ rights agreement.
The UK and EU Commission have so far agreed that UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement will continue to have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits
UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement will also be able to leave their Member State of residence for up to five years without losing their right to return.
UK nationals travelling to EU after 31 January 2020
If the UK leaves with a deal, travel to the EU will remain the same as now until at least 31 December 2020. You will not need to apply for a visa to travel or work in the EU during this time.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal after 31 January 2020, the rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change. In the case of a 'No Deal Brexit', the following new rules will apply:
UK nationals should have at least 6 months left on their passport from their date of arrival. This applies to adult and child passports
if their passport was renewed before it expired, up to 9 extra months may have been added to their new passport’s expiry date. Any extra months on their passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months that should be remaining for travel to most countries in Europe.
The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.
The new rules do not apply when travelling to Ireland.
The European Commission has proposed that in a no deal situation, British citizens would not need a visa for short stays in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU. They would be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Visits to the Schengen area within the previous 180 days before their date of travel will count against the 90-day limit.
If they are intending to stay in the Schengen area for longer than 90 days, or their stay would take them over the 90 days in the 180-day limit, they may need to get a visa before travelling.
EU citizens currently in the UK
On 21 June 2018, a Statement of Intent on the EU Settlement Scheme was published by the Home Office.
This Statement highlights the agreement reached with the EU guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and of UK nationals living in the EU.
EU citizens living in the UK, along with their family members, will be able to stay and continue their lives, with the same access to work, study, benefits and public services that they enjoy now. Existing close family members living overseas will be able to join them here in future. In order to do so, EU citizens will need to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you are an EU citizen in the UK, we strongly encourage you to sign-up for email updates from the Government.
Should you wish to apply for the Settlement Scheme, the Student Immigration Service is available to support you to submit your application for settled or pre-settled status.
Healthcare for EU citizens visiting the UK in the case of 'no deal' scenario
The UK government (the Department of Health and Social Care) has published guidance pages for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens visiting the UK about accessing healthcare in the UK in the event of a ‘no deal’ situation.
Under new agreements, if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national living lawfully in the UK on exit day you will be able to access the NHS as you do now.
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national visiting the UK after is has left the EU your healthcare cover may change and you are advised to visit NHS.UK for information on accessing healthcare in the UK.
Healthcare for EU citizens living in the UK in the case of 'No Deal' scenario
The UK government (the Department of Health and Social Care) has published guidance pages for EU, non-EU EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK about accessing healthcare in the UK in the event of a ‘no deal’ situation.
The government has confirmed that if there is no deal, it will protect the rights of citizens from EU member states, who are living lawfully in the UK on exit day, and this includes their entitlements to NHS cover.
Under this agreements, if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national living lawfully in the UK on exit day, you will be able to use the NHS as you do now.
Comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI)
Most students are able to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their country of residence prior to coming to the UK. This card allows EEA nationals to get the same medical treatment, which is free to residents of the country they are visiting, without being charged.
If you are applying under the EU Settlement Scheme you will not be required to show that you meet all the requirements of current free movement rules, such as any requirement to have held comprehensive sickness insurance or generally to detail the exercise of specific rights (e.g. the right to work) under EU law. The UK has decided, as a matter of domestic policy, that the main requirement for eligibility under the settlement scheme will be continuous residence in the UK.
Applicants under the scheme are not required to pay the Immigration Health Charge.
The UK government has produced a leaflet about EHIC and access to medical treatment while in the UK.
Working in the UK
All EEA and Swiss national students can work in the UK. You can work during or after studies. However, if you are a national of Croatia you may be subject to the 'Worker Authorisation Scheme' and will need to obtain the appropriate registration certificate before you can start work unless you are exempt.
The information on this page is based on the current situation for EU students. Updated information will appear here when it is announced by the UK government.
If you are an EU student and have any concerns about your current status and right of residency, feel free to attend our daily drop-in advice sessions and speak to a Student Immigration Adviser.
You can also contact us through SAMIS online Student Service Helpdesk (University login details required).