The Final Call For EEA and Swiss Students

This article has been written for the Midlands International Group, which comprises the careers services from the 15 universities across the English Midlands. They agree due to the urgent action that might be required that this be shared as wide as possible.


Teresa Corcoran, postgraduate careers consultant at the Nottingham University Business School said “The Midlands International Group are eager for our EU students to fully understand their rights and take advantage of the option to obtain their right to work in the UK through gaining “Settled” or “Pre-Settled” status. We, therefore, urge all of our EU students to read this article and take the necessary action within the timescales mentioned.”  


European (EU, EEA and Swiss) first-year students who are home learning should, if they are able to, arrive in the UK before 11pm on 31 December in order to then be able to make an application for pre-settled status. There are many short and long-term advantages of acquiring this immigration status. More on this later.


If the first-year student arrives before this date and then plans to remain until the end of the academic year i.e., summer 2021 then they will have until 30 June 2021 to file their application for pre-settled status.


The deadline date of 30 June will also apply to students who enrolled in the academic year 2019-20 (or earlier) though in their case they can plan to arrive after 1 January but giving themselves enough time to make the application before the deadline date. These students will still have to provide evidence that they were in the UK on a date before 31 December and evidence that at that time they were genuinely residing in the UK. The date before 31 December which these students wish to rely upon must be within the six months preceding the date of the application. This evidence might include a previous tenancy agreement, a UK bank account or evidence of their enrolment on the course.


If a first-year student arriving on a date before 31 December needs to return home prior to 30 June 2021, it is advised that they make their application for pre-settled status before travelling. However, it should be noted that proving genuine residence in the UK might be trickier, particularly if the student has not before that date of application rented accommodation and therefore does not have a tenancy agreement. Students who are in this scenario should provide documents confirming that they have made an application for a UK bank account and evidence of enrolment on their course of study as evidence of their genuine residence in the UK.


Particularly for first year students, if the facts of individual cases allow, the university should provide a letter in support of the application confirming the details of the student and that but for COVID-19 the course of study would have necessitated that the student arrive in the UK at the beginning of the academic year and confirmation of the actual date of arrival in the UK (which should be a date before 31 December).


This article will not discuss the application procedure under EU Settlement Scheme  (EUSS). Your university will be able to support and guide you. A further excellent resource is the information provided by Here for Good a charity which Paragon Law supports, which includes with Bindman solicitors managing a telephone advice line.                   


Whilst you have to be in the UK to make the application under the EUSS, you can then leave the UK and once a decision is given you will be provided a digital confirmation of your immigration status and in turn you will then be able to enter the UK on the next occasion as a pre-settled status holder.


 The advantages of making an application as a European student are:

  1. There is no application fee

  2. You will be able to continue to study in the UK without requiring sponsorship from your university. This means:

  • You will not need to apply for a Tier 4 visa

  • Meaning that you will not have to pay a student visa fee of £348

  • You will receive free NHS treatment and will not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which is £470 for each year of study as a Tier 4 student

  1. You will be able to work unlimited hours in the UK to supplement your education unlike Tier 4 students who can only work 20 hours during term-time

  2. After your studies you will be able to take up employment without requiring sponsorship under the skilled worker visa or having to switch to the Graduate route and thus you will save cost of additional future visa and IHS fees

  3. You will be able to set up a business without requiring endorsements etc 

  4. You will be able to claim welfare benefits to which you satisfy the eligibility criteria

  5. You will be able to include your spouse / unmarried partner and children up to the age of 21 years in your application

  6. Once you have 5 years continuous residence in the UK you will be able to apply for settled status

  7. If you have pre-settled status you will be able to leave the UK for up to 2 years (5 years if you have settled status) and be able to return back to the UK with this status. However, note that if you have pre-settled status then you must not leave the UK for than 6 months in any calendar year or else you will break your continuous residence for the purposes of making a settled status application

  8. After 1 year of settled status you will be entitled to apply for British citizenship so long as you satisfy the eligibility criteria

Finally, you might have read elsewhere that there are organisations that are trying to apply pressure on the UK Government to allow EU nationals who have enrolled on university courses in 2020 to arrive after 31 December and still be allowed to apply under the EUSS. Whilst there are arguable reasons why the Home Office should concede on this it is unlikely that they will as they will argue that the residence requirement before 31 December has been made clear to all EEA and Swiss citizens including students. Therefore, do not rely on this.