Applying for a Student Visa
EU, EEA and Swiss students coming to study a course in the UK that lasts more than 6 months in total on or after 1 January 2021 will need to apply for and secure a Student visa before arrival. Please see our Student visa webpage for further information. Those coming to study a course that lasts less than 6 months should read the information below under 'Travelling to the UK from 1 January 2021'. EEA nationals already residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 should not need to do this but will need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by the relevant deadline in order to regularise their status. Please see the information below.
Brexit, EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals
This information is for current and prospective EU, EEA and Swiss students.
The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and entered a transition period, this ended on 31 December 2020. This information sets out advice for current and prospective students from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein following Brexit.
Remaining in the UK if you were living in the UK before 31 December 2020
If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and were already resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, we recommend that you apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if you are eligible.
Advantages of making the EU settlement scheme application:
- It is your opportunity to protect your residence in the UK
- It is free of charge, whereas there will be a charge for Student visa applications to live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021
- You do not need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge and will be able to continue to access the UK health services, whereas there will be a charge for this if you apply for a Student visa to live and study in the UK from 1 January 2020
- It is a straightforward and short online application, in most cases it will take only half an hour to complete
- Holding this status will mean that you can continue to work and study in the UK without having to apply for additional immigration permission
- Holding this status will mean that there will be no restrictions on study (where you study or what you study)
- Holding this status will be the most straightforward status to have when travelling to and from the EU from 1 January 2021
The deadline for applying for EU settlement is 30 June 2021, however, we recommend that you apply as soon as possible, particularly if you will travel between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021, to ensure that you are not considered under the new rules when you return to the UK. The application process is straightforward and free. Depending on how long you have been in the UK you will get either pre-settled status, which allows you to stay for a further 5 years from that date or settled status, which allows you to stay in the UK for as long as you like.
If you wish to apply for EU settlement, please follow the steps below:
1) prepare your supporting documents: if you don't have a National Insurance number and/or haven't been working in the UK for 5 years you will need to obtain a student status letter to prove when you commenced studies (to show that you were living in the UK before 1 January 2021) OR any other documents, such as a tenancy agreement, to show that you were living here if you moved to the UK before you started your studies.
2) prove your identity: download the EU Exit ID Document Check app onto an Android device and use it to prove your identity by scanning your face and passport. If you don’t have a suitable device you can prove your identity by post or go to an identity document scanning location. You can find a list of these locations here.
3) log in and complete the application online: this can be done on any device.
For further application information see EU Settlement Scheme
IMPORTANT NOTE regarding leaving the UK and 'continuous residence' under the scheme:
Pre-settled status - if you are granted pre-settled status you can apply to change this to settled status once you have 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK. If you have been out of the UK, you risk not meeting this requirement. Whilst those with pre-settled status can spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing their pre-settled status, you would lose your continuous residence if you want to qualify for settled status. Continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you live in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12 month period, please see the gov.uk website for exceptions to this, as well as for specific information related to absences due to COVID-19.
Settled status - if you are granted settled status and are Swiss you can spend up to 4 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status or up to 5 years for everyone else.
Travelling to the UK from 1 January 2021
Freedom of movement for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals ended on 31 December 2020. The information below gives guidance for you if you are travelling into the UK from 1 January 2021 depending on whether you lived in the UK before 31December 2020 or are travelling to the UK to study for the first time and what actions you will be required to take to enable you to travel to and study in the UK.
Students who lived in the UK before 31 December 2020:
- students who have already applied for EU settlement – will need to travel with evidence of their pre-settled or settled status
- students who have not applied for EU settlement but were previously living in the UK but returned home during the pandemic and are continuing with their course online in their home country (when they would otherwise be studying in the UK) – are able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK, so long as they are able to prove that they are still continuously resident in the UK. This means that they must not have been absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period, except for a single absence of no more than 12 months for an important reason, for example due to studying outside the UK because of COVID-19. They will still be continuously resident in the UK for the purposes of the scheme. Further information about absences due to COVID-19 can be found on the gov.uk website. Students should seek advice from the government helpline (at the bottom of their webpage) before travelling if they are unsure if they are eligible to apply for EU settlement, because if they are not eligible and their course is over 6 months long they will be required to apply for a Student visa.
Students who did not live in the UK before 31 December 2020:
- students coming for a course/period of study that is less than 6 months long - do not require a CAS and are not required to apply for a visa prior to travel. They will be granted 6 months under the 'Standard Visitor' route with permission to study by showing their University offer letter (and tenancy agreement, if they have one) at the border to prove that they will study in the UK. This does not include students who started a longer course by Distance Learning and are coming to the UK to complete the course in person for the final few months - these students would still need to apply for a Student visa.
- students coming for a course/period of study that is more than 6 months long, or those who started a longer course by Distance Learning but wish to attend the final few months in person - will require a CAS to apply for and secure a Student visa before they travel into the UK - they will need to complete this form to request a CAS.
Please see our Student visa information for more details on how to apply for a Student visa.
- EU Settlement Scheme application and information
- UKCISA regarding how Brexit affects EEA students and their families and information regarding the EU Settlement Scheme
- Brexit: information for current students on our website
- Brexit: information for prospective students on our website
There is a dedicated government helpline that may be able to help you with any scheme eligibility queries. You can find the contact details at the bottom of this webpage.