Brexit information for current students

The UK may have left the EU but Sussex will always be a friendly, international community. Check what you need to know about Brexit and how it affects your immigration status.


LAST UPDATED: Tuesday 2 March 2021

This information was correct at the time of writing and is subject to change. We will keep these pages updated with any developments.

Important

  • The UK exited the EU on the 31 January 2020 with a withdrawal deal agreed.
  • From 1 February 2020 we moved into a post-Brexit transition period which ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020.
  • Our advisers can offer advice on matters related to obtaining pre-settled status and the conditions of this status; we cannot offer immigration advice on obtaining settled status in the future (including how absences from the UK could affect your eligibility) and applications for family members.
  • The term "EU citizens" below refers to citizens of the EU, EEA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. This information may be relevant to you if you hold dual nationality of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland.

Citizens’ rights after the UK leaves the EU

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, until 30 June 2021.

To continue living, working and studying in the UK after the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020), you and your family will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Successful applications will be granted ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status, depending on how long you have been living in the UK.

Those with five years’ continuous residency will be granted settled status and those with less than five years will be granted pre-settled status.

Those granted settled status can stay in the UK as long as they like. Those granted pre-settled status can stay for a further five years from the date they get pre-settled status and can apply for settled status once they reach five years of continuous residency.

With settled or pre-settled status you’ll be able to:

  • work in the UK
  • use the National Health Service
  • enrol in education or continue studying
  • access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
  • travel in and out of the UK.

If you do not apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to apply for immigration permission as a student (see below). You are not eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme if you did not arrive in the UK by 11pm on 31 December 2020 and you will not have access to the benefits that currently exist under EU rules.

Immigration permission as a student

If you arrived in the UK or were already resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020

If you’re a current student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland you will not need to apply for immigration permission as a student from your home country as long as you arrived in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020.

If you arrived before this time and date, there is no change to your rights and status as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen until 30 June 2021. This means you can study, live and work in the UK as now.

However, to protect your rights since the Brexit transition period ended (at 11pm on 31 December 2020), you need to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021 but we advise you to apply as soon as possible. The application process is easy, user-friendly and free of charge.

If you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from within the UK, we advise you to not leave the UK until you have been granted your status under the Scheme. Read our information on the EU Settlement Scheme and how to apply.

Once your settled or pre-settled status is granted, you will have the same access to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK according to current EU rules.

If you arrive in the UK after 11pm on 31 December 2020

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who move to the UK after 11pm on 31 December 2020 (and who have not already been granted pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) need to apply for immigration permission as a student.

You will not be eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme and will not have access to the benefits that currently exist under EU rules. The only exception to this is if you were previously resident in the UK within the past 12 months (see below).

See our information on making a Student Visa application outside the UK.

You can read this UK government guide: UK points-based immigration system: An introduction for EU students.

EU Settlement Scheme – advice for students resident in the UK before 31 December 2020

  • How do I make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme?

    The UK government have produced a step by step guide on applying to the EU Settlement Scheme. Check your eligibility through the UK Government webpages.

    The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) have also produced guidance on how to apply.

    Proof of identity

    You should use the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app to complete the identity stage of your application. For this you will need either an Android device with NFC (Near Field Communication) or an iPhone 7 or newer (see further information above).

    The app will:

    • check that your identity document is genuine
    • verify that the document belongs to you.

    You must use either:

    • Your biometric passport from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
    • Your UK residence card with a biometric chip if you are the non-EU family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.

    There is further guidance on using the app on the UK government webpages.

    Once you have completed the identity stage, you can complete the rest of the application either on that device or any smartphone, laptop or computer.

    Proof of residence

    The Home Office will do checks against other government databases to check that you have been resident in the UK. You will be asked to provide your National Insurance (NI) number, if you have one.

    There is no requirement for you to have a NI number or to have worked in the UK to be eligible under the scheme. If you do not have one, the Home Office will ask you for evidence from a list of documents in Annex A of the Home Office guidance on the settlement scheme which includes:

    a dated and signed letter from an accredited organisation in the UK confirming physical attendance at a course and its duration, or confirming enrolment on a course accompanied by dated and signed evidence of completion (such as a qualification certificate) – this will be treated as evidence of residence for the duration of the course

    You will also need to declare any criminal convictions (and the Home Office will do their own checks too).

  • I have already applied for and been granted pre-settled or settled status. Do I need to do anything else?

    If you have already been granted pre-settled or settled status under EUSS, then you have secured your continued right to study in the UK after 31 December 2020. Make sure you can access proof of your status through the online checking service. You may need to provide this to the University in the future.

    Pre-settled status is valid for a period of 5 years and only lapses if you are out of the UK for more than 2 years. If you have obtained this status and will not be absent from the UK for more than 2 years, it is not necessary to re-enter the UK before 31 December 2020.

  • I want to move from pre-settled to settled status in the future. How do absences from the UK (including Covid absences) affect my eligibility for settled status?

    If you have been granted pre-settled status and would like to apply for settled status in the future (which has no time limit on how long you can stay in the UK), you need to be aware of the eligibility criteria for settled status. There are strict rules on how long you are permitted to be outside of the UK to qualify for settled status.

    You are allowed absences of:

    • up to six months in any 12 month period, and/or
    • a one-off period between six and 12 months for ‘an important reason’ (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting).

    See the section on ‘continuous qualifying period’ in the EU Settlement Scheme caseworker guidance.

    There is also detailed guidance for EUSS applicants who have been studying remotely due to Covid. You will see the guidance states:

    If you are a student who was studying in the UK and are studying outside the UK because of Coronavirus, that absence will not cause you to break your continuous qualifying period, where it is for a single period of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months, during your 5-year continuous qualifying period.

    The EUSS allows for a single absence up to 12 months for an important reason, including serious illness and study.

    Any absence of 12 months or longer from the UK will automatically make you ineligible to move from pre-settled to settled status in the future (apart from compulsory military service, time spent as a Crown servant or in the Armed Forces). We are aware that some students left the UK around March 2020 and have understandably not yet returned due to Covid.

    The 3 Million Group have a useful questionnaire to calculate absences from the UK and to see how they could affect an application for settled status.

    The UK Council for International Student Affairs also has a list of organisations you can contact for more help.

  • I am currently in the UK but have not yet applied for or been granted pre-settled or settled status. What do I do?

    If you arrived in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, you should submit an application for EUSS as soon as possible. See the information above for details.

    We advise that you don’t leave the UK until your status has been granted.

    If you arrived in the UK after 11pm on 31 December 2020, contact us for advice.

  • I was previously resident in the UK but I am currently studying remotely outside the UK. Can I apply under EUSS while outside the UK?

    This may be possible, but depends on why you were previously in the UK and how long you have been absent.

    Check the following scenarios. If none of these apply to you, or you have any questions, contact the Immigration team for advice.

    Scenarios

    • I have returned to my home country because of the Covid-19 situation. Can I still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

      You can apply for the scheme from outside the UK (free of charge) based on the fact that you had been studying and living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and have not been absent from the UK for longer than 12 months. In order to qualify for pre-settled/settled status, if you have an absence of between 6-12 months from the UK, it has to be for an ‘important reason’. There is detailed guidance for EUSS applicants who have been studying remotely due to Covid. The guidance states:

      “If you are a student who was studying in the UK and are studying outside the UK because of coronavirus, that absence will not cause you to break your continuous qualifying period, where it is for a single period of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months, during your 5-year continuous qualifying period.”

      and

      “The EUSS allows for a single absence up to 12 months for an important reason, including serious illness and study.”

      We recommend you submit evidence to prove when you were in the UK (immigration stamps or used flight tickets/boarding passes) and a student status letter.
    • I have been out of the UK for longer than 12 months. Can I still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK?

      No. Absences of longer than 12 months are not permitted (apart from compulsory military service, posting on a crown service or any period spent working in the UK marine area).
  • I have dual nationality. Should I apply for settlement status?

    You do not need to apply if you have dual British citizenship.

    If you have dual EU and non-EU nationality, you can apply for settlement status using your EU passport.

  • I am from the Irish Republic. Do I need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

    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 for the EU Settlement Scheme.

  • If I leave the UK, do I lose settlement status?

    If you have settled status, this would be lost after an absence of five years from the UK (this is still subject to approval from Parliament).

    If you have pre-settled status, this would be lost after an absence of more than two years from the UK.

    If you lose your status and you are no longer eligible to apply under the settlement scheme, you will only be able to apply under any other category of the Immigration Rules in place at the time you wish to come to the UK.

  • How do I prove my residence?

    Settled status

    To be granted settled status, you will need to evidence that you have been resident in the UK for five continuous years. If you have been working in the UK during the last five years, the easiest and quickest way to prove this is by providing your National Insurance (NI) number on the form. UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) can check this with HM Revenues & Customs by accessing your NI records. In this case no further documents will be needed to prove residence.

    If you have not been working some or all of the last five years, you can upload evidence of your residence to your application. Acceptable documents include annual bank statements, letters from your school or university confirming your attendance, or tenancy agreements. All documents you provide must be dated and have your name on them. Further details are available online.

    If you have had an absence from the UK of longer than six months but less than 12 months for one of the ‘important’ reasons listed in the EU Settlement Scheme caseworker guidance (see the section on ‘continuous qualifying period’), you will need to provide official evidence.

    Pre-settled status

    If you have been resident in the UK for any period of time less than five years, you will need to provide evidence that you were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 when you apply.

    If you have a National Insurance (NI) number and you have been working, the NI number should be sufficient evidence for pre-settled status.

    If you don’t have a NI number and/or you haven’t been working, you can provide other evidence to support your application. Acceptable documents include a student status letter from the University and used flight tickets/boarding pass.

  • If I need a letter from the University to prove my residence for my EU Settlement application, where can I get this from?

    If you are an undergraduate student then you can request a ‘General Letter of Enrolment’ or student status letter from your School office.

    If you are a Masters student then you can get a letter from the Student Systems and Records Office in Bramber House or request it online.

    Research students can visit the Research Student Administration Office in Sussex House or email researchstudentoffice@sussex.ac.uk.

    Former students can make an online request for a letter confirming your dates of attendance.

  • How long will it take for my application to be processed?

    Applications for the EU Settlement Scheme are still being processed during the Covid-19 pandemic, but for those sending documents (rather than uploading them online) it is taking longer than usual for them to be returned. It can take several weeks for complete applications to be processed.

  • I have questions or need to check my application status?

    If you have questions and queries about an ongoing application please contact the EU Resolution Centre.

    We advise that you telephone, rather than submitting an online query:

    If you’re inside the UK:
    Telephone: 0300 123 7379
    Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 8pm
    Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm
    Find out about call charges

    If you’re outside the UK:
    Telephone: +44 (0)203 080 0010
    Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 8pm
    Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm
    Find out about call charges

  • What is the difference between settled and pre-settled status?

    Settled status

    This allows you to remain in the UK indefinitely and you can continue to study and work without restriction. You can also access any public funds you may be eligible for and use the National Health Service (NHS). You are free to travel in and out of the UK.

    After obtaining settled status you can spend up to five years outside the UK without losing your status and you can choose to apply for British citizenship.

    Pre-settled status

    This gives you permission to remain in the UK for a further five years from the date that you were granted this status. Once you have reached five years continuous residence, you can apply again to obtain settled status if you want to remain in the UK longer. However, you must apply before your five years on pre-settled status expires if you wish to remain in the UK.

    Whilst in the UK with pre-settled status you can continue to study and work in the UK without restriction. You can also access any public funds you may be eligible for and use the National Health Service (NHS). You are free to travel in and out of the UK.

    After obtaining pre-settled status you can spend up to two years outside the UK without losing your status. However, if you plan to apply for settled status in the future, you will need to ensure you maintain your continuous residence in order to qualify (see above for information on absences).

  • Is the application process different for settled and pre-settled status?

    The application for settled or pre-settled status is the same process through the EU Settlement Scheme. You don’t need to choose which status you are applying for.

    Settled status

    To be granted settled status you must complete the EU Settlement Scheme application and demonstrate that you have been resident in the UK for the last five years with no absences of longer than six months in any 12-month period. In exceptional circumstances, a one-off absence from the UK of up to 12 months (such as a Coronavirus-related absence, study abroad, pregnancy, childbirth or work posting) may be discounted as absence. Any periods of compulsory military service are also allowed.

    If you are under 21 and are applying with your parents, you may not need to have been resident in the UK for five continuous years to obtain settled status if your parent(s) have met the requirements.

    Pre-settled status

    To be granted pre-settled status you must complete the EU Settlement Scheme application and demonstrate that you are resident in the UK.

    You must have started living in the UK before 31 December 2020 but there is no minimum time you need to have spent in the UK in order to be eligible.

Student status letter

If you are an undergraduate student then you can request a ‘General Letter of Enrolment’ or student status letter from your School office.

If you are a Masters student then you can get a letter from the Student Systems and Records Office in Bramber House or request it online.

Research students can visit the Research Student Administration Office in Sussex House or email researchstudentoffice@sussex.ac.uk.

Former students can make an online request for a letter confirming your dates of attendance.

Tuition fees and student loans

There will be no change to the tuition fee status of current EU students or those applying to courses at Sussex starting in 2019-20 or 2020-21 and fees will continue to be at the applicable Home fee rate for the duration of your course.

Find out more about ‘home’ fee status eligibility on the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website.

If you’re continuing, or starting a course in the 2019-20 or 2020-21 academic year, and are eligible under the current rules to receive loans from Student Finance England, you will continue to remain eligible for the duration of your course.

Find out more about student finance eligibility on the UKCISA website.

Visiting the UK after Brexit

What you’ll need to enter the UK will not change until at least 2021.

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will be able to continue to travel to the UK for short trips without requiring a visa.

If you began living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and have status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll be able to use your EEA or Swiss national identity card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025.

Find out more on the UK Government’s website.

Reciprocal EU/EEA healthcare arrangements after the UK leaves the EU

The UK government has published information about access to healthcare for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals visiting the UK after Brexit.

Eligible students are advised to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled/settled status as this protects your access to healthcare after the transition period as well as your immigration status.

If you do not have Pre-settled or Settled status and are planning to study in the UK under a student visa, you will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application.

If you are visiting the UK, you should buy insurance to cover your healthcare as you would if visiting another non-EU country.

Further information about access to healthcare for EU, EEA and Swiss students is available on the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website.

Travelling in Europe (UK citizens)

For the latest information on visiting Europe from 1 January 2021, please visit the government’s website.

Erasmus+ programme

The UK has now entered a ‘transition phase’ which will last until the end of December 2020. Under the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, the UK will continue to be able to participate in the Erasmus+ programme during this time.

Currently Sussex is applying for Erasmus+ funding for student and staff mobility due to take place during the academic year 2020/21. Whether Sussex has been successful in its application for Erasmus+ funding will be confirmed by the European Commission in May, as in previous years. However, students and staff planning to complete mobilities in the EU in 2020/21 should continue with all other aspects of their applications. The Sussex Abroad team will inform participants about the outcome of the University’s Erasmus+ funding application after May 2020.

Beyond 2020/21, the future participation of UK universities in the European Commission’s successor programme to Erasmus+ is one of the areas of future negotiation between the UK and the EU. These discussions are due to begin after the UK has left the EU.

Sussex students studying or working abroad through the Erasmus+ programme in 2019/20

We are not expecting Sussex students or staff completing mobilities through Erasmus+ this academic year, 2019/20, to have their visit affected by the UK leaving the EU. If staff or students have any concerns about this, we would ask them to contact the Sussex Abroad office.

Non-EEA nationals

There are no foreseeable changes to the arrangements for non-EEA nationals to visit, study, work or settle in the UK.

Contact us

We realise that the above information is complex and that individual circumstances will also have been further complicated by Covid-19 and remote study.

If you ever have any questions about applying for the EU settlement scheme, or your immigration status in the UK following Brexit, please get in touch.

The advisers in International Student Support are the only staff at the University of Sussex qualified to give immigration advice relating to study.