Information for EEA and Swiss students
Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, the UK has formally signalled its intent to withdraw from the European Union by the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is important to note that there are no immediate changes to the status of EEA nationals living in the UK or those planning to come to the UK.
Below, we aim to address some of the questions you might have, and provide information on how to secure documentation confirming your right to reside in the UK.
There is very little reliable detail on the immigration environment that will be in place after the UK leaves the EU.
At the time of writing, no formal negotiations have begun.
Therefore, this information is to highlight the current position and includes our best advice based on the current situation.
Has my immigration status changed?
At present, the UK remains in the EU. It will do so all the way until a formal date for leaving has been set as part of the negotiations.
This means there are no immediate changes if you are an EEA or Swiss national, including where you have a dual nationality with a non-EEA/Swiss passport.
You continue to have the same rights and status as were in place before the referendum result and the triggering of Article 50. You should also remember that the negotiation process is expected to take a minimum of two years. Most informed commentary indicates a strong likelihood of transitionary arrangements based on free movement being required and in place even after the UK has left the EU.
We will publish relevant, verified information on this page as soon as it becomes available.
What can I do now?
The Home Office has advised EEA nationals that at present they don’t need to take action to confirm their status in the UK. Our best advice, however, is to recommend that you do take steps to secure evidence of your formal right to reside, if possible, using the process that is currently in place.
You can also sign up for Home Office alerts so that you can keep up with any relevant developments.
Your residence rights
As an EEA national, you have an initial, unrestricted right to reside in the UK for up to three months.
After that, you must be here as a “qualified person”. A qualified person can be a jobseeker, worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or a student.
In order to be considered a qualified person, a student needs to:
- have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI)
- have enough money to cover living expenses without recourse to public funds
Comprehensive Sickness Insurance
Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) is a type of medical insurance. The Home Office has confirmed that the following are acceptable forms of CSI:
- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- You should obtain this from your home country
- The Home Office has stated that the EHIC is only a valid form of insurance if you make a declaration that you do not intend to stay in the UK permanently
- This does not stop you from changing your mind at a later date to stay permanently
- Forms S1, S2 or S3
- These are documents that prove reciprocal arrangements between the UK and your home country
- Comprehensive private medical insurance policy
- If you purchase private medical health insurance or already have it, you should ensure that it covers you for the majority of risks and medical treatment while you are in the UK
As a student, you will still have access to the National Health Service in the UK, which is free at the point of access. However, under European Union law on which the “qualified person” criteria is based, access to a member state’s health system is not regarded the same as having comprehensive sickness insurance for the purposes of proving your treaty rights.
If you are currently living in the UK as a qualified person, you have the option to apply for a registration certificate to confirm your right to reside in the UK.
This is not a change from the position before Article 50 was triggered. The possibility to apply for documentation has always existed as have the rules in place to obtain it.
Nor has it become a requirement - historically, most EEA nationals have not needed to apply for documentation as a qualified person as no real practical barriers such as access to work or medical care exist from not having it.
The point of applying for it now, in the post-Article 50 situation, would be to ensure you have documented your rights of residence.
EEA nationals can acquire a permanent right of residence after living in the UK for 5 consecutive years, provided they have met certain criteria during the relevant period.
Information for dual nationals
If you are a citizen of a non-EEA country but also hold a valid passport for an EEA country (excluding the UK), you will be able to come to the UK under EU law using your passport or ID card, and you will not need to apply for a visa.
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive sickness insurance before you travel to the UK so that you secure your right of residence while you are here.
In most cases, it will not be possible for those who reside outside EEA countries to apply for a European Health Insurance card.
We therefore recommend that you purchase private comprehensive sickness insurance. If you are already insured in your home country, you could contact your provider to ask if they can offer to cover in the UK for an extra fee.
Family members of EEA nationals
Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals can continue to come to the UK. Their right to reside, study or work has not yet been affected by the outcome of the EU referendum.