Britain is expected to leave the EU in 2020 but the exit date has been postponed on multiple occasions. The current expected exit date is 31 January 2020, referred to below as 'Brexit date'. EU nationals will be able to travel to and from the UK and continue with or start University study after that date, but if the UK leaves the EU without agreeing an exit deal, there will be some different rules for EU nationals arriving after Brexit date. An 11-month transition period is due to come into force after the UK formally leaves the EU on 31 January to give time for negotiations over the future relationship between the UK and EU.

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals resident in the UK before Brexit date

All EU/EEA and Swiss nationals currently living in the UK (including students) are able to apply for pre-settled or settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme. If you plan to live, study, or work in the UK past 31st December 2020, you’ll need to make an immigration application under the EU Settlement Scheme before that date.  

As long as you are resident in the UK prior to Brexit date, you should be able to leave and re-enter the UK freely before 31st December 2020 and still be able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

  • You can apply for the scheme regardless of the length of your course or how long you intend to stay in the UK. Students that have lived in the UK for less than 5 years, will be granted ‘pre-settled’ status. 

  • To be granted settled status you’ll need to show that you’ve lived in the UK for five years. If you’re granted ‘pre-settled’ status, you’ll be able to switch to settled status once you’ve been resident in the UK for five years   

  • The EU Settlement Scheme is open to EU citizens who have a valid biometric passport or national ID card

  • If you have family member(s) who also live in the UK but are not EU nationals, they can also apply under the scheme; they will need to hold a biometric residence card 

  • Applications are free and are usually processed quickly

You do not need to apply under this scheme if you are an Irish citizen as your rights to travel to and remain in the UK are protected under the Common Travel Area agreement. 

The final deadline for applying under this scheme will be June 2021, if Britain agrees an exit deal, and December 2020, if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. 

Details of the EU Settlement Scheme are available here. International Student Support can advise you on your application and help you to submit it. Email for further advice or to book an appointment.

EU nationals entering the UK for the first time after Brexit date

The rules which will apply to EU nationals arriving in the UK after Brexit date differ depending on whether or not an exit deal is agreed. 

If an exit deal is agreed – EU nationals will be able to freely enter the UK up until the end of any planned implementation period – at least the end of December 2020. If you want to remain in the UK after this date you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, outlined above. 

If no exit deal is agreed – The current guidance is that EU nationals will be able to enter the UK and stay in the country. If you wish to stay past the end of December 2020, however, you will need to apply for Temporary Leave to Remain. This status will give you the right to remain in the UK for up to 36 months from the date that you apply. If you need to stay for longer than 36 months (for example, to complete a degree programme) you will need to apply for an immigration status under the new immigration system which will come into effect from 1st January 2021. The details of this scheme have not yet been announced.


Page last updated: 17/Dec/2019