International students: working in the UK after Brexit

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‘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 and when. 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

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. The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 31 October this year, but your rights as an EU citizen in the UK will remain the same up until 30 June 2021 if the UK exits the EU with a deal or 31 December 2020 in a no-deal scenario.

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, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 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’re planning a trip abroad and returning after Brexit (31 October), don’t worry: you’ll retain the same rights you have now until 31 December 2020, meaning that you’ll be able to move freely to and from the UK to other EU countries.

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.

As you can see, this is not a simple or straightforward matter and a lot of the answers depend on the date that the UK withdraws from the EU as well as whether or not a Brexit deal can be reached. As we edge closer to October, more information may be released and changes to existing plans may be made, so make sure you stay informed of the latest information. The university website will have lots of useful information, but make sure you follow the following sources too as they are regularly updated:

Source: HN Global.