On 29 March 2017, the Government triggered Article 50, which began the formal process for the UK to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.
In December 2017, the UK reached an agreement with the European Commission on citizens’ rights to secure the status of UK nationals living in other member states and EU citizens living in the UK after it exits the EU.
The UK remains a full member until it exits the EU, and all rights and obligations of membership remain in place until then.
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
- Lithuania- Malta
- 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.
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.
EU citizens currently in the UK
If you are an EU student concerned about possible changes to residency rules, read the information and advice here.
Progress in the negotiations – EU Settlement Scheme
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.
To obtain settled status EU citizens will generally need simply to have lived continuously in the UK for five years. This means for example that students can be eligible. Those with less than five years’ continuous residence will be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point.
If you are an EU citizen in the UK, we strongly encourage you to sign-up for email updates from the Government.
The same has been agreed for British citizens living in Europe.
The EU Settlement Scheme will mean that:
The agreement the UK has reached for EU citizens and their families is:
EU citizens and their family members who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously resident in the UK for five years will be eligible for ‘settled status’, enabling them to stay indefinitely - this covers the implementation period running from 30 March 2019 (day after the UK leaves the EU) to 31 December 2020
EU citizens and their family members who arrive by 31 December 2020, but will not yet have been continuously resident here for five years, will be eligible for ‘pre-settled status’, enabling them to stay until they have reached the five-year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status
EU citizens on temporary settled status can spend up to six months of each year out of the UK, and, in exceptional circumstances (e.g. for healthcare, training or work), one period of up to 12 months of continuous time outside the UK
EU citizens with permanent settled status can spend up to five years of continuous time out of the UK without losing their settled status
EU citizens arriving during the transition period, between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020, will need to register to stay here for more than three months
EU citizens and their family members with settled status or pre-settled status will have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK
Close family members living overseas will still be able to join an EU citizen resident here after the end of the implementation period, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK. Future children are also protected
EU citizens granted status under the scheme will be able to travel to and from the UK using a valid passport or (at least until 31 December 2025) a valid national identity card
Application for Settled Status
The EU Settlement Scheme will be delivered through a streamlined, digital application process which will be implemented from late 2018 so that EU citizens and their family members can begin to obtain their new UK immigration status at their earliest convenience.
Application will be online, with documents (where required) and proof of ID provided by post or in person, or via an online app, although the app will not work with Apple devices
Applications will cost £65 and be half that cost for children under 16
The process will be particularly straightforward for those who already hold a valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain document, which they will be able to swap for settled status free of charge
Applications will be automatically linked to the past seven years of HMRC / DWP data, so any work which EU citizens have paid tax on, or benefits they have claimed in that period, will automatically prove eligibility
If they do have an HMRC / DWP record, EU citizens can use further evidence (e.g. bank statements, P60, tuition fee invoice, SLC letter, tenancy agreement, council tax bill, payslip, utility bill)
EU citizens with temporary settled status will not then have to pay again to upgrade it to permanent
It is expected that the UK will begin to accept settled status applications in a phased role out from Autumn 2018 and is expected to be fully open on 30 March 2019. It will remain open till June 2021
EU citizens and their family members will not be required to apply immediately; there will be no change to their current rights until the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020, and the deadline for applications to the scheme by those resident here by the end of 2020 will be 30 June 2021.
Citizens of Ireland
Brexit will not change the status of Irish nationals and they will not need to apply for pre-settled or settled status. Irish people are automatically deemed to hold settled status in the UK, so they are not required to do anything in preparation for Brexit. However, Irish people can continue to apply for British citizenship if they meet the requirements. In particular, they must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days in the five year period before they apply, or 90 days in the year immediately before the application.
Citizens of Switzerland and the EEA
The UK government is in separate discussions with the governments of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Officials from the EEA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and the UK met on 12 February 2018 to discuss the agreement reached by the UK and the EU on citizens’ rights in December 2017. They subsequently issued a statement to confirm that positive discussions took place at the meeting and the parties affirmed their desire to secure the status and protect the rights of UK nationals living in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein and nationals of those countries living in the UK.
The government has suggested that the scheme described in the Statement of Intent will be open to other EEA and Swiss Citizens (and their family members) on a similar basis as for EU nationals. We will provide a further update once more information is made available.
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.
Those applying under the EU Settlement Scheme will not be required to show that they 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 will not be 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).