Brexit: Information for EU (and EEA) students (and family members)
Following the result of the EU Referendum in June 2016, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.
After the UK’s exit from the EU, the parties entered into a transitional period until 31 December 2020. During the transitional period EU laws continued to apply in the UK, as did freedom of movement between the EU and UK for citizens.
This means EU, EEA and Swiss nationals did not need a visa to travel to the UK to study or work before 31 December 2020.
The following sets out how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will impact on EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who were in the UK before the end of the transitional period of 31 December 2020.
EU Settlement Scheme guidance notes
- Who is eligible and when to apply
- How to make an application
- Evidence required
a: If you are applying for pre-settled status
b: If you are applying for settled status
- Absences from the UK (including COVID-19 related absences)
- If you already have pre-settled status
- Can I lose my pre-settled or settled status?
- Further advice
1. Who is eligible?
EU, EEA and Swiss students who were in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 were eligible to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to apply under the scheme in most cases was 30 June 2021.
If you were eligible to apply under the scheme, but did not apply by the deadline, you must seek advice on your options. In some cases, it is still possible to apply if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for making a late application
You can check if you are still eligible to apply
If you are in the UK, you need to apply under the scheme or have a valid visa even if you do not plan on staying in the UK long term.
Please note that if you are an Irish citizen, or have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, you do not need to apply under the EU Settlement scheme.
If you meet the criteria to apply after the 30 June 2021 deadline, you will be eligible for status under the scheme if you are either:
- an EEA or Swiss national with a valid passport, or national ID card, or
- a family member of an EEA or Swiss national and are not an EEA/Swiss national yourself but have a residence card or permanent residence card issued on the basis of an application you made on or after 6 April 2015 under EEA freedom of movement regulations (as the family member of an EEA/Swiss national)
If you are here as the family member of an EU/EEA/Swiss national you should seek advice from the International Student Adviser as the rules are a bit more complicated.
You should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme even if you have been in the UK for a very long time and even if you have a Permanent Residence document issued under the EEA regulations.
What if I left the UK during the Covid 19 pandemic?
If your residence in the UK has been disrupted by coronavirus, please read Coronavirus (COVID-19): EU Settlement Scheme - guidance for applicants for information on how the Home Office will treat your absences from the UK.
You can make the application even if you are currently outside of the UK, providing you were here for at least one day in the last six months and before 31 December 2020. In some instances you may also be eligible if you were here within the last 12 months and left due to an ‘important reason’, or, if you were in the UK but left due to COVID and have been absent for more than 12 months, you could be eligible under the Home Office’s guidance on absences due to COVID. We encourage you to seek advice from our International Student Advisers if you are applying from outside of the UK and if you have left the UK more than 6 months ago as you will usually need a bespoke letter to submit with your application.
If you are unclear on whether you need to or are eligible to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, please contact the university’s International Student Advisers by completing the Brexit enquiry form.
What status will I get?
You will be granted settled status, or indefinite leave, if you have been in the UK for a period of five years. You will be granted pre-settled status if you have lived in the UK for less than five years.
2. How to make an application for status under the EU Settlement Scheme
Applications are made online
The first step is to verify your identity by downloading the EU Exit: ID document check app. You need your EU passport or identity card (with biometric chip) or if you are the family member of an EU/EEA national, your biometric residence card. If you cannot use the app, there are alternative ways to verify your identity by sending your ID to UKVI or by booking an appointment to scan your ID document in person. We strongly advise you to use the app to verify your identity if possible, rather than the other options.
To start the identity verification process, you need to complete the identity verification form from the Home Office.
After you have verified your identity, you complete the online application by clicking the sign in button on the EUSS page.
3. Evidence required
You will usually need evidence of your residence in the UK if you apply under the Settlement Scheme.
If you have a National Insurance number and are working and paying National Insurance, your work records will be automatically accessed as part of the application and will be used to calculate your length of residence. If you do not have a National Insurance Number or your National Insurance records don't show your full residence, you will need to provide evidence of your residence in the UK. You will be told for which periods you need to provide evidence of residence.
3a. If you are applying for pre-settled status
You only need one document to show you have been resident in the UK for at least one day in the last six months and before 31 December 2020. This could be in the form of a utility bill, bank statement showing transactions in the UK or a university student status letter see Home Office information about the EU settlement scheme for examples of evidence and full details of how the application process works.
If you left the UK more than 6 months ago, but less than 12 months ago (for example if you started your course in person but left due to the pandemic), you may still be eligible for pre-settled status but you must seek advice on the International Student Advisers on applying as you will need a bespoke student status letter explaining your situation.
If you left the UK more than 12 months ago and have not yet applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, you may now be eligible because of the Home Office’s guidance on extended absences due to COVID. Please contact the International Student Advisers for further advice if this applies to you as you will need a bespoke letter from the Advisers to submit with your application and will also need to have reasonable grounds for making a late application.
3b. If you are applying for settled status
You are likely to need more evidence of your residence if you are applying for settled status. You will be eligible for settled status, or indefinite leave, if you have been in the UK for a continuous period of five years (absences of up to six months in any 12-month period and in some cases longer absences, in specific circumstances are permitted - see Home Office caseworker guidance and Coronavirus (COVID-19): EU Settlement Scheme - guidance for applicants for details).
Unless you have five uninterrupted years of National Insurance contributions, you will need to provide evidence of any periods of residence over the five years for which there are no NI records. See Home Office information about the EU settlement scheme for examples of evidence and full details of how the application process works and contact the International Student Advisers if you need more advice on what documents to provide.
4. Absences from the UK including due to COVID-19
Even if you already have pre-settled status, going forward you need to be aware of the following rules on absences to qualify for settled status after 5 years. In order to be eligible for settled status, you need to complete five years continuous residence in the UK. Continuous residence is usually broken if you are absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12 month period. Over the five year period, a single absence of up to 12 months may be permitted for an 'important reason'. There are also exceptions for absences related to compulsory military service. Under the Home Office’s new guidance on COVID related absences, absences of over 12 months due to COVID are now permitted in certain circumstances, but will cause a pause in your continuous residence.
If you left the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic please note that UKVI have confirmed that a single absence of over 6 months and up to 12 months for COVID-19-related reasons is likely to be considered to be an 'important reason' and will not break your continuous residence. For example if you left the UK during the pandemic and remained studying on your course from your home country, or if you were ill with coronavirus whilst outside the UK and prevented from returning, you may be able to rely on this rule.
The Home Office issued guidance on 11 June 2021, confirming that they will allow absences of over 12 months if COVID meant that you stayed outside the UK for more than 12 months, for example, because your course moved to remote study and you were advised by the university to remain studying in your home country. If you are absent for more than 12 months due to COVID, your continuous residence will now be ‘paused’ at the point you reach 12 months absence, and will resume when you return to the UK.
If you think you will be out of the UK for more than 12 months or are not sure if your COVID-19-related absence will be treated as an important reason, please seek advice from the International Student Advisers.
5. If you already have pre-settled status
You should ensure you know when your pre-settled status expires and apply for settled status before the expiry date of your pre-settled status, or earlier if you qualify before this.
You can apply for settled status once you have completed 5 years continuous residence in the UK. You do not need to wait until the end of the 5-year period on your pre-settled status if you lived in the UK for a while before your pre-settled status was granted. For example, if you started living in the UK in September 2018, but you were granted pre-settled status from September 2020 – September 2025, you can apply for settled status as early as September 2023 providing you meet the criteria.
See section 4 above regarding absences from the UK to understand how you can qualify for settled status.
6. Can I lose my pre-settled or settled status?
Pre-settled' status will be lost after a continuous absence of more than two years from the UK and Islands.
Settled status will be lost after a continuous absence of more than five years from the UK and Islands.
7. Further advice
If you require further advice on your eligibility under the EU settlement/pre-settlement scheme please complete our enquiry form.
The university's International Student Advisers are able to offer you advice and assistance on making your application under the EU Settlement Scheme. In the event that your situation is particularly complex, we can provide you with a list of reputable immigration solicitors and advisers.
Other useful information sources
Tuition fees and loan eligibility
There will be no change to the tuition fee status of current EU students attending UK universities or for those coming for courses starting in 2019–20 and 2020–21. This means that EU students studying at UK universities will pay the same fees as 'home' students for the full duration of their course, even if the course finishes after the UK left the EU.
There has been no change in the eligibility requirements for current EU students at UK universities to receive loans and/or grants to fund their studies for the full duration of their course. The same will apply to those students who started in 2019–20 and 2020–21.
For courses starting in the academic year 2021-22 EU/EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who are eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme and have lived in the UK EEA or Switzerland for the 3 years prior to their course will continue to be eligible for home/EU fees on broadly the same basis as before Brexit. However, EU/EEA nationals who are not covered by the EU Settlement Scheme will no longer be eligible for home/EU fees for courses starting in 2021-22 (courses starting after August 2021). Further information can be found on the gov.uk website and detailed guidance is on the UKCISA website.
This guidance is for the sole use of University of Brighton applicants and students. It is a guide only and must be used in conjunction with the information referenced on the gov.uk website. The information in this guidance is given in good faith and has been carefully checked. However, the University of Brighton accepts no legal responsibility for its accuracy.