‘What will happen after Brexit?’ It’s a question that is on many people’s minds and one that may be causing you significant anxiety if you’re an EU or EEA citizen studying in the UK, especially if you’re hoping to stay and work here either during your studies or after you graduate.
It’s a tricky question to answer, unfortunately, as nobody is quite sure yet what form Brexit will take. However, several assurances have been made that could help put your mind at rest, at least for the time being. Here’s what we know so far:
Your right to live, work and study in the UK after Brexit
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and we are now in what’s known as a transition period, which will end on 1 January 2021. As an EU or EEA citizen living in the UK, you currently have the same rights as UK citizens, which means you can live, work and study here without any restrictions, but this will change once the transition period comes to an end.
So, what if you want to remain in the UK after this?
You can, if you sign up to the EU settlement scheme. The scheme is now open to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK and will remain open until 30 June 2021, although you are urged to apply as soon as possible. It’s totally free to apply and applying won’t affect your citizenship status in your home country.
If your application is successful, you’ll be given pre-settled or settled status. This will depend on how long you’ve lived in the UK at the point of applying: if that’s more than five years you’ll most likely get settled status, which means you can stay in the UK indefinitely. If it’s less than 5 years you’ll probably get pre-settled status, which allows you to stay in the UK for another 5 years. You can apply to change your pre-settled status to settled after five years’ continuous residence in the UK.
Leaving the UK temporarily
If you are granted pre-settled status you can leave the UK for a period of up to 2 years in a row without your status being affected. It’s important to note, however, that to achieve settled status you need 5 years’ continuous residence, which means that for 5 years in a row you have been in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12-month period. An exception to this rule is made if you go abroad to study, undertake fieldwork or do a work placement, in which case you can leave the UK for a period of up to 12 months without it affecting your continuous residence count.
Anyone who has been granted settled status can leave the UK for a period of up to five years without it affecting their status.
What will happen after Brexit is still not a simple or straightforward matter. As we edge closer to January more information may be released and changes to existing plans may be made, so the key is to stay informed. In addition to the university website and the gov.uk website, make sure you follow the following sources too as they are regularly updated: