The following information is provided to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who may be concerned or have questions around immigration rule changes as a result of the UK referendum decision to leave the European Union.
The current position as of 1 January 2021
In line with Appendix EU, EEA citizens and their family members who travelled to the UK on or before 31 December 2020 (this is the end of the transitional period) are eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
The deadline to apply for the EUSS is 30 June 2021. This is the additional 6 months “grace period” given by the Home Office for EEA nationals to protect their rights to live, work and study in the UK.
What is the EUSS eligibility criteria?
The eligibility criteria for the EUSS is:
- Proof of identity- EU, EEA, and Swiss passport or national ID card and a digital photo.
- Continuous residence- Evidence of residence in the UK.
- Criminal Convictions- Declare any criminal convictions on record inside and outside the UK.
The EUSS eligibility requirement is based on nationality and residency, as long as the EEA citizen travelled to the UK or was residence in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 they will be eligible to apply.
EUSS and Absences due to covid-19
On 15 December 2020 the Home Office published a short guidance information covering absences for EUSS applicants in or outside the UK who have been affected by the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
It applies to EEA citizens and their family members who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or those who are eligible but have not yet applied.
Exceptions to the six-month rule
There is a general rule within the EUSS that a person will have been continuously resident if they have not been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in total in any 12 month period. There is no restriction on the number of absence permitted, provided that the total number of absence does not exceed 6 months in any 12 month period.
In limited circumstances absences of more than 6 months but up to 12 months is permitted provided it is for an important reason. Acceptable examples of important reasons are listed in Appendix EU as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.
The Home Office guidance information only caters for COVID related absences between 6 and 12 months where a person has remained outside the UK due to travel restrictions, quarantine or COVID-19 health complications. The Home Office will consider each case individually, depending on whether or not the individual can produce the specified documents as part of the EUSS application For example if the EEA national has an expired passport additional evidence from the embassy will need to be provided such as an official webpage link or letter evidencing closure.
There is however a concession for students who are enrolled at a UK university, such as the University of Birmingham. As students have been granted the ability to study remotely online/blended learning they are considered to have an important reason to be absent for up to 12 months.
The guidance further confirms that absences that exceed 12 months will always interrupt continuous residence regardless of the reason for it.
The EUSS guide is also available in 26 European languages
If you believe you are eligible for British Citizenship as a Dual National but do not hold a valid British passport please read this news article on the University website for further information on your immigration status and Right to Study in the UK.
How will the UK leaving the EU impact EU citizens in terms of their Immigration Status?
There will be no change to the right and status of EU citizens living in the UK. However, the Home Office will require EU citizens to apply for documentation via the EU Settlement Scheme proving they have permission to live and to work legally in the UK.
What is The EU Settlement Scheme?
The settlement scheme will officially open on 30 March 2019 and the deadline to apply will be 30 June 2021. There are two parts to this scheme “Pre-settled Status” and “Settled Status”.
The scheme is to protect the rights of over three million EU citizens so that they can continue to live their lives as before.
It is highly recommended that you apply under the EU Settlement Scheme as this will protect your ongoing rights in the UK.
What status do I get if my EUSS application is successful?
If your EUSS application is successful you will be given either:
This is for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and their family who have not lived in the UK for 5 years on 31 December 2020. This status will allow you to continue living in the UK until you reach 5 years residence after which you can then can apply to change your pre-settled status to settled status for free. Pre-settled status will allow you to live outside the UK without losing your pre-settled status but you will need to maintain your continued residence in order to qualify for settled status at a later stage.
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who already live in the UK, or will be arriving by 31st December 2020 will be able to apply for “Settled Status”. This status will enable you to live, work and study in the UK with the ability to leave the UK for up to 5 years without compromising your settled status.
What is the process of applying under the EU Settlement Scheme?
You will need to complete an online application. You can apply using a laptop, Android device or iPhone.
What documentation will an EU citizens need in support of their application?
You will be required to submit the follow documentation:
- Valid EU passport or Identity Card
- Evidence of employment if you are employed in the UK
- Proof of continued period of residence in the UK for a consecutive period of 5 years if you are applying for settled status. At least 6 months of evidence regarding residence in any 12 month period.
- Evidence that you are a student if you are studying in the UK - this will normally be a letter confirming your registration status as a student and you can obtain this from the online shop.
Will EU citizens receive a document confirming pre-settled or settled status under the EU Scheme?
If your application is successful you will be granted either pre-settled status or settled status. You will not get a physical document proving your status. Your proof of status will be given through an online service.
Do students still need Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) to apply under the Settlement Scheme?
The Government announced some time ago that they will not require EU citizens living here as students or self-sufficient people to prove that they have held Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) when they apply for settled status in the UK. However, CSI is still needed in order to access the NHS.
How much does the EUSS application cost?
The EUSS application is a free application.
How will applying for pre-settled or settled status benefit EU citizens?
We would strongly recommend that you apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. The advantages under this scheme are as follows:
Pre Settled Status:
- If you have pre-settled status you can spend up to 2 years outside the UK without losing your pre-settled status but you will need to maintain your continuous residence in order to qualify for settled status.
- Once you qualify for settled status your application to move from pre-settled status to settled status will be free.
- You will be eligible to work in the UK.
- You will be able to use the NHS.
- Enroll in education or continue studying.
- Travel in and out of the UK.
- Any child born in the UK after you have been granted pre-settled status will be automatically eligible for pre-settled status.
- If you have settled status you can be absent from the UK for up to 5 years without losing your settled status.
- If you hold settled status you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship provided you meet the relevant criteria for naturalisation.
- You can travel in and out the UK.
- You will be able to use the NHS
- You can access public funds such as benefits and pensions- if you are eligible for them.
- If you have settled status any children born in the UK while you are living in the UK will automatically be British Citizens.
- You can also bring family members and extended family members to the UK after 31 December 2020 if; your relationship with them began before 31 December 2020 and you are still in a relationship when they apply to join you in the UK.
What will happen if an EU citizen is refused “pre-settled status” or “Settled Status”?
If you receive a refusal, please notify the IST as soon as possible and we will provide you with detailed advice and guidance in relation to your situation.
If your application is refused under the EU Settlement Scheme; you can apply for an administrative review within 28 days of receiving your decision email and the cost for applying will be £80.00. You can also send additional supporting documentation in support of your administrative review request. This fee will be refunded if your application for a review is successful and you are granted pre-settled or settled status.
If your EU Settlement Application is refused you must contact the International Student Advisory Service (IST) by appointment or by logging an enquiry online.
The rights of Irish citizens residing in the UK are protected after the UK leaves the EU under the UK-Ireland Common Travel Area arrangements. This means that Irish citizens do not need to apply under the scheme. Nonetheless, Irish citizens can make an application under the scheme, should they wish to do so.
What will happen after the transition period end? Will students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland need a visa to study in the UK?
The Student route has opened from 5th October 2020 for applications made outside the UK from EU, EEA and Swiss nationals coming to the UK from 1 January 2021. The UK Government has released a booklet with information on how EU, EEA and Swiss nationals can apply under the Student route.
From 31st December the University will not assume that all EU/EEA students should be treated the same with regards to their status and what they are permitted to do in the UK for example:
- EUSS students can study full or part time, and can work over 20 hours per week during term time, and can undertake a work placement/ internship;
- Student Route Visa students cannot work more than 20 hours per week, and must meet criteria for placement/work placement;
- General visitor visa route students are prohibited from working meaning they cannot undertake a placement/internship etc.
I am an existing EU student who applied for the EUSS and successfully obtain pre-settled status but left the UK in March 2020 due to Covid 19 and restricted campus access. Will I lose my status if I return to campus after January 2021?
If you have successfully applied for the EUSS and have been granted pre-settled status, you can spend up to two years outside the UK without losing your pre-settled status.
The potential issue will only arises when you need to evidence continuous period of residence for five years for settlement purposes. At present absences from the UK for a six month period in any qualifying twelve month period is permitted and the exceptions are:
- one period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting)
- compulsory military service of any length
- time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
- time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces
If you successfully applied for the EUSS and was granted settled status, they can spend up to five years outside the UK without losing their settled status.
Study Abroad Arrivals January 2021
EU/EEA have normally provided evidence of right to study by providing either their ID card or passport. Changes from 1 January 2021 mean that evidence will be based on:
- Evidence or pre-settle status (electronic document);
- Evidence of settle status (electronic document);
- Evidence of ‘other’ immigration document e.g. spousal/family visa;
- Evidence of UK immigration permissions:
- Student Route Visa;
- Short Term Study Visa
A Right to Study Check (RTS) can be completed on our My RTS page.
How to get Immigration Advice
The University of Birmingham is committed to supporting its students throughout the Brexit process and we understand that you may have worries or concerns. If you have queries or concerns, the International Student Team will be very happy to discuss them with you and you can do this by:
Submitting an online enquiry
Booking an appointment
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC): Will my EHIC Card still be valid after 31st October 2019?
An EHIC gives EEA citizens access to state healthcare in other nations in the European Economic Area (along with Switzerland) at reduced cost or even for free (it depends on the country). The EHIC card also allows EEA citizens to get the same medical treatment, which is free to resident of the country they intend to visit, live or work. Each individual requires their own EHIC card in order to access state healthcare. EEA Nationals need to obtain the EHIC from their country of residence before travelling.
The UK Government (the Department of Health and Social Care) has published guidance pages for the following groups giving information about accessing healthcare in the UK in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit:
Healthcare for EU and EFTA nationals living in the UK
Healthcare for EU and EFTA citizens visiting the UK
EEA students and home fee status
- EEA citizens who start a course in England in the 2020/21 academic year or before will continue to be eligible for home fee status and student finance support from Student Finance England for the duration of their course.
- Eligibility rules are changing for EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who wish to commence courses in England in the Academic Year starting in August 2021.
- EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals not in scope of the citizens’ rights protections will not be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. This change will also apply to Further Education funding for those aged 19+, and funding for apprenticeships. It will not affect students starting courses in the 20/21AY. This will not apply to students from Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis under the Common Travel Area arrangement.
- EEA/Swiss students, staff and researchers make an important contribution to universities, the government wants to ensure this contribution continues with world leading institutions within the HE sector.
In the UK, undergraduate student fees are regulated by the Government. These fees are subject to parliamentary approval and liable to increase annually.
The Student Loans Company (SLC) has confirmed that access to student loans is unchanged for EU or EEA students starting a university course in, or prior to, 2018 and that students qualifying for a loan will continue to eligible throughout the duration of their course.
EU students applying for an undergraduate or master’s course at an English university in 2018/ 2019 academic year will continue to have access to student loans and grants, even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the EU.
For the full information see the statements from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science – ‘Statement on higher education and research following the EU referendum’
EU citizens will also remain eligible to apply for Research Council PhD studentships at UK institutions for 2018-19 to help cover costs for the duration of their study.
It has not been confirmed if leaving the EU will affect funding for research students. If you have specific queries about your own funding please contact your College directly.
The UK Government has stated that they are determined to make sure the UK continues to play a leading role in European and international research and innovation.
The Home Office have stated the following in relation to Erasmus +
- Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programmes. This means that the projects successfully bid for during the current programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including those where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period.
- The government remains open to considering participation in some elements of the next Erasmus+ programme. This will be subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU.
- The government will, in parallel with the negotiations, continue to develop a domestic alternative to Erasmus+, to ensure the UK are prepared for every eventuality as the government remains committed to international exchanges in education, both with the EU and beyond.
You can find further details on the Erasmus+ website. You can also contact the Study Abroad team for further information.
UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)
University of Birmingham