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Immigration information for prospective and current students about the UK leaving the EU

How prospective and current UK and EU students might be affected by Britain's exit from the EU.


Last updated 5 April 2022.

The UK has now left the EU and agreements have been reached under International Treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union.

Brexit rules

Brexit rules are in place and we strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with them if you are an EU (except Irish), EEA or Swiss national.

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:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

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.

Find full details from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and UKCISA.

Citizens of Ireland

If you are an Irish national, the UK's exit from the EU does not change your status as you are automatically deemed to hold settled status in the UK. 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 the UK's exit from the EU

Now that the UK has left the EU, travellers who are travelling between the EU and the UK are advised to:

  • check with the embassy of the country where they plan to visit to make sure they are aware of any extra documents that might be needed
  • check their passports for validity (and process any renewals online via the HM Passport Office if necessary)
  • allow more time within itineraries
  • familiarise themselves with relevant travel insurance policies

UK nationals studying in the EU

As a UK national, if you were living in an EU country before 1 January 2021 you have the same rights to access education as nationals of that country. You also retain home fee status (the fee rate that students who live in that country are charged). If you do not have permanent residence, you may not be entitled to maintenance grants.

If you were not already living in that EU country before 1 January 2021, make sure you meet all visa requirements for your destination or you may not be allowed to stay.

Read the Government guidance for studying in the EU.

EU nationals coming to the UK

The Government guidance pages provide information on what EU and EEA nationals need to do to visit the UK (since 1 January 2021).

Anyone intending to come to the UK needs to apply under the relevant category of the Immigration Rules. For students coming for courses longer than 6 months, this means that they will be coming on the Student visa.

Important: if you are a EU student coming on a Student visa, it is essential that you only travel to the UK once you have been granted your visa. If you come to the UK before your Student visa has been granted, you will be travelling on the wrong immigration permission and you will not be allowed to start your course. You will need to leave the UK and come back once your Student visa has been approved. If you are not able to come back for the official start date of your course, you will not be allowed to start studying and you will need to liaise with your department to agree on a later start date, if this is possible.

For courses of up to 6 months, students are able to come on the Standard Visitor visa.

EU citizens (and their families) who have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are able to stay and continue their lives with the same access to work, study, benefits and public services that they enjoyed before the UK's exit from the EU.

The UK Government announced in summer 2021 that it is currently providing temporary protection for more applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme and has put in place comprehensive arrangements to enable those with reasonable grounds for missing the deadline to apply to the EUSS.

The Government is also taking a similar approach with joining family members, who will have temporary protection for three months after their arrival in the UK and pending the outcome of an EUSS application made during that period (and of any appeal).


UK healthcare for EU and EEA students

Students who have secured pre-settled or settled status are able to benefit from UK healthcare and the NHS.

Students who have not secured pre-settled or settled status and come to the UK on a Student visa are able to benefit from UK Healthcare as part of the Immigration Health Surcharge they pay for when applying for their visa.

The NHS has comprehensive information on UK healthcare entitlement for non-UK nationals visiting or moving to England. Make sure you familiarise yourselves with it.


The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. You can apply for a new card up to 6 months before your current card expires. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC to replace it unless your rights are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. If so, you are able to apply for a new UK EHIC which you can continue to use in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. You can apply for the new EHIC if you are:

  • a UK student who started living and studying in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 1 January 2021
  • a national (or student) from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland who started living in the UK before 1 January 2021. Your family may also apply.

Both cards give you access to state provided healthcare while staying in an EU country for things like emergency treatment and visits to A&E. GHIC and UK EHIC do not replace travel insurance and we strongly recommend obtaining travel insurance with healthcare cover if you're travelling to an EU country or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Using GHIC or UK EHIC abroad

A UK GHIC or existing EHIC covers you when visiting an EU country.

Although UK GHIC may become valid in more countries in the future, there are currently different rules for using your GHIC or EHIC card in Switzerland.

A GHIC or an existing EHIC cannot currently be used in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway (for example emergency treatment, or to treat a pre-existing condition).

Applying for GHIC or UK EHIC

If you plan to visit the EU, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, or Switzerland, you can apply for a GHIC or new UK EHIC via the NHS website.

IHS reimbursement for EU and Swiss students holding EHIC

From 1 January 2022, you can apply to get back the money you paid for the IHS. This is called an IHS reimbursement.

  • If you’re a student from the EU, your reimbursement will be backdated to include any surcharge payments made for a visa starting on or after 1 January 2021.
  • If you’re a student from Switzerland, your reimbursement will be backdated from 1 November 2021 even if your visa started earlier.

Eligibility for the IHS reimbursement

You can apply for a reimbursement of the immigration health surcharge (IHS) if:

  • you are an EU or Swiss full-time student studying in the UK and
  • your Student visa started on or after 1 January 2021 and
  • you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued in an EU country or Switzerland and
  • you do not work or do not intend to work in the UK.

Your family members, including your spouse, civil partner and dependant children, can also get an IHS reimbursement if they:

  • are in the UK on a visa that started on or after 1 January 2021 and
  • hold a valid EHIC and
  • do not work and do not intend to work in the UK.

You can only make an application if you are the student eligible for reimbursement.

You are only eligible for an IHS reimbursement if you do not work during the time the IHS covers. You therefore need to carefully consider whether you intend to work in the UK before deciding whether to apply for a reimbursement.

When applying for the student IHS reimbursement scheme, you’ll be asked to declare if you:

  • currently work in the UK
  • have worked in the UK during your visa period
  • intend to work in the UK during your visa period

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, you will not be able to apply for an IHS reimbursement. "Work" is defined as any paid employment or self-employment that is liable for National Insurance. This includes any work where the minimum earnings threshold for owing National Insurance is not met. Please note: if you have a contract of employment with the University of Bath (for example, as a PhD student to teach), this will count as work.

If you do unpaid work or if you volunteer, or if you get scholarship income (such as a bursary), this income is not considered as taxable income and is therefore not defined as "work".

How much IHS reimbursement you will get

If you get a reimbursement, you will not be able to get as much free healthcare in the UK. You should carefully consider all the information on the Government website before deciding whether to apply for a reimbursement.

You’ll get an IHS reimbursement that covers the period that your EHIC is valid in the UK. To get a full reimbursement, make sure that your EHIC is valid for the whole of your stay.

If your EHIC does not cover the whole of your stay, you can make an application for the amount of IHS covered by your EHIC. If you renew your EHIC, you can then apply for a further reimbursement. To make your first application you must have had at least 6 months left on your EHIC when your visa started.

You may not be able to get an IHS reimbursement for any periods in which you didn’t have a valid EHIC.

How to apply for IHS reimbursement

The application takes about 30 minutes to complete online.

To make an application, you need your:

  • full name as it appears on your passport
  • date of birth
  • IHS number – find it in the email from WorldPay which confirmed that you paid. The number starts with ‘IHS’ and then has 9 digits, for example IHS123456789
  • visa share code – this code lets you prove your visa status to others
  • UK address
  • email address
  • scanned copy or photo of your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • scanned copy or photo of your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement or university acceptance letter.

You’ll also need all of the same details for any family members you’re applying for.

When to apply for IHS reimbursement

  • If you arrived in the UK between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021, you must apply for a repayment reimbursement by 31 December 2022.
  • If you arrive in the UK from 1 January 2022, you will have a year to apply from the start date of your visa.

You should apply for your reimbursement as soon as possible after arriving in the UK. This will help you to have all the relevant documents you need to make an application. It also means we can give you important information about using your EHIC to get medical treatment.

After you apply for IHS reimbursement

You will receive an email to let you know if your IHS will be reimbursed or not.

The money will be paid back to the original payment card or bank account used to pay the IHS fee.

Working in the UK

All EEA and Swiss national students who have secured pre-settled or settled status can work in the UK. Students on a Student visa can also work during their studies, subject to the working conditions attached to their immigration permission.

Getting advice

If you are an EU student and have any concerns about your current status and right of residency, feel free to attend our advice sessions and speak to a Student Immigration Adviser.

You can also email us at


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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