The Impact of Brexit on EU Students at Independent Schools in the UK - AMCIS

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The Impact of Brexit on EU Students at Independent Schools in the UK

Brexit is the abbreviated term used to describe the UK’s departure from the EU. The impact of this depends upon your date of arrival in the UK, and this document seeks to outline your options with some recommendations to preserve your rights for as long as possible. Based on the date of your first arrival. you should refer to the section which is most relevant to you  by your date of arrival. For our purposes this would be your first date at school in the UK, but if the student can derive resident rights through other means (eg by a parent working in the UK), then they may have other options.

Although the UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020, there is a period of transitional arrangements in place. These currently run until 31 December 2020, and until that date, all rules and regulations from before the UK left the EU continue to apply. Although unlikely, this date may change if both the UK and EU agree to extend the transitional arrangements. The rest of this document is based on the date not changing.

In this document, we refer to the EU, by this we mean all EU, EEA and Swiss nationals.

For students currently studying in the UK or starting their studies before 31 December 2020

All EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can continue to enter the UK using a passport or ID card under the ‘old’ rules until 31 December 2020. If the student has commenced studies before this date, they can maintain their rights by applying to UKVI under the (pre) settled status scheme. The difference between pre settled and settled amounts to the length of time spent in the UK. If over 5 years (ie any student who started their studies before 2015) then the student will be granted settled status; any shorter period would lead to pre settled status. In practical terms there is little difference.

The application is fairly simple, but requires the download of an app onto a mobile phone. With a biometric passport or ID card, plus confirmation of studies in the shape of receipt for fees paid, and EU student or their parent can obtain this status. The application is free and the student does not need to be in the UK at the time of the application (so summer holidays would be an ideal time!)

Please note, it is not (yet) a necessity to do this, but it conveys some benefits. Once obtained, (pre) settled status gives legal recognition to the student being considered as a resident of the UK. The status can only be lost by a 5 year absence from the UK, meaning that even if the student returned to their home country for a 3 year University course after UK A levels, they would still hold the status if they wished to return to the UK (within 5 years) to take up a job. It might also make entry to a UK University easier and it is likely to allow access to “Home Fees” rather than international fees – although we don’t know how the Higher Education sector will charge EU students in the future.

Students who commence study in the UK before 31 December 2020 and continuing their studies after 1 January 2021.

EU students who wish to remain in the UK beyond 1 January 2021 will need to apply under the (pre) settled scheme described above. This will not be the responsibility of the school who are not regulated advisors and schools are not required to check (although they may start to) before the end of June 2021. In other words, it will be students commencing, or returning to study in September 2021 who will be the first cohort to have their status checked by the school.

Students starting their study in the UK after 1 January 2021

A new immigration system will apply for students starting their studies after 1 January 2021. The UK Government have not yet announced the details of this, and we expect further details in the autumn. It is likely to mirror the existing international student scheme whereby a student will need sponsoring by their school. This is a more burdensome scheme with additional costs to the school and student and is likely to require a visa application. If it can be avoided (by utilising the scheme outlined above – then we recommend you do!)


We recommend that any EU student commencing their studies before 31 December 2020 applies for (pre) settled status in the UK. This recommendation extends to those who are finishing their studies in the UK this year. By applying to the scheme, it gives a five year ‘window’ during which time the student can return to the UK for further study or work without the need to apply under the new immigration rules which will be effective for new arrivals from 1 January 2021.

Produced by Ian Westwood, Immigration Advisor, in association with Windermere School on 1 July 2020

Ian Westwood, Director, The Westwood Organisation
Office:  (+44) 1293 889 691
The Westwood Organisation is a niche consultancy business specialising in immigration advice, training and consultancy.

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