Advice for UK students:
EEA and Swiss students: immigration
- Am I an EEA national?
- Do I need to register to stay in the UK?
- What is comprehensive sickness insurance?
- Can I bring my family to the UK?
- How do my non-EEA national family members come to the UK?
- I am a Croatian national. What will happen from 1 July 2013?
- My BR1 application has been pending for many months. Is there anything I can do?
- I am a Bulgarian or Romanian national who has completed a degree, postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma in the UK or a HND in Scotland; can I apply as a Highly Skilled Person?
- Where can I find out more about being an EEA or Swiss national in the UK?
- I want to challenge the UK Government's interpretation of EC law
Am I an EEA national?
You are a European Economic Area (EEA) national if you are a citizen or national of one of the following countries. If you have permanent residence in, but not citizenship of, any of these countries, you are not an EEA national.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are EEA member states, but they are not members of the European Union (EU).
Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the EEA. However since 1 June 2002, Swiss nationals have had rights which are similar to those of nationals of EEA countries. The information in this area of the website applies to both EEA and Swiss nationals.
Do I need to register to stay in the UK?
You are entitled to enter the UK freely and have an automatic right of residence for up to three months without needing to demonstrate that you are exercising a right of free movement, for example, to study or work. Once you are enrolled onto a course of study at an institution which meets the criteria below and you meet the conditions as set out below, you have the right of residence in the UK for as long as your course lasts.
You do not have to register or apply for any particular documents in order to stay in the UK. However, you can choose to apply for a registration certificate which confirms that you have a right of residence as a student. You might want to apply for a registration certificate if you have family members who are not themselves EEA or Swiss nationals, as this can make it easier for your family to apply for an EEA family permit or residence card. If you are a Bulgarian or Romanian national, you might have to apply for a registration certificate if you want to work in the UK.
If you are a Bulgarian or Romanian national, you can apply for a student registration certificate on form BR1. If you are not a Bulgarian or Romanian national, apply on form EEA1. You will need to enclose the following with your application:
- your passport or national identity card
- evidence of your studies, for example, a current letter from your institution confirming your enrolment on a course. You must be studying, either part-time or full-time, at an institution which is:
- publicly-funded OR
- is 'otherwise recognised by the Secretary of State as an establishment which has been accredited for the purpose of providing such courses or training within the law or administrative practice of the part of the United Kingdom in which the establishment is located'
- evidence that you can support yourself financially. This can be a bank statement, a document confirming the receipt of a grant or scholarship, or a declaration of sufficient funds.
- evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance (see below).
- two passport photographs of yourself.
Registration certificates can be issued immediately if you apply in person at the Home Office's Public Enquiry Office in Croydon. You must make an appointment in advance. However, there are very few slots available for EEA applications. Alternatively, you can apply by post. You can check how long applications are taking on the Home Office website. You can ask the Home Office to return your passport if you need to travel, but make sure that you allow plenty of time (at least two weeks) for the passport to be located and sent back to you before your trip. There is no charge for this application.
What is comprehensive sickness insurance?
In order to show that you have a right of residence in the UK as a student, you have to show that you have comprehensive sickness insurance. Until recently, the UK Government would not accept the European Heath Insurance Card (EHIC) as evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance. However, the BR1 and EEA1 forms now state that you can use the EHIC as evidence, if you also send a letter confirming that you intend to stay in the UK on a temporary basis. If your stay is to be permanent, you will need to obtain additional insurance. The UK government does not accept entitlement to the National Health Service as sufficient as evidence, so you will need to get the EHIC before you leave your country of residence.
Can I bring my family to the UK?
If your family members are also EEA or Swiss nationals, they can come to the UK in the same way as you, without restriction.
If your family members are not EEA or Swiss nationals, and you are coming to, or you are in, the UK as student, the following family members can come with you, or join you:
- your husband or wife
- your civil partner - this is a same-sex partner with whom you have a relationship that has been legally recognised. See Annex H of Chapter 8 of the Immigration Directorate Instructions for a list of non-UK civil partnerships that are recognised in the UK.
- children who are dependent on you or on your spouse or civil partner.
If you want to bring other family members, for example, a co-habitee or parents, it is at the discretion of the UK Government. If you want your co-habitee to be with you, you need to show that you have been in a relationship 'akin to marriage' for at least two years. European Community (EC) law says that you just need to be in a 'durable relationship', without any minimum length - if you need to challenge the UK interpretation of 'durable relationship', seek legal advice. If you want to bring parents or other relatives, you need to show that they were members of your household or dependent on you in your home country, or that they are seriously ill and require your personal care.
If you are not in the UK as a student but as, for example, a worker, you can bring a wider range of family members with you under EC law, including grandchildren who are under 21 or dependent on you, and parents and grandparents who are dependent on you. Find out more about how the UK Government views the rights of non-EEA family members in Chapter 2 of its European Casework Instructions.
I am a Croatian national. What will happen from 1 July 2013?
Croatia is due to join the European Union on 1 July 2013. This means that from this date, nationals of Croatia and their relevant family members will no longer be subject to immigration control in the UK. They will have an initial right of residence for three months and after that they will need to be here as a student, worker, self-employed person or self-sufficient person or the relevant family member of any of these.
The UK government has drafted Regulations which contain the restrictions it will impose on the right to work in the UK and these Regulations are currently being considered by Parliament before they become law. The draft Regulations are publicly available.
Before you start to work in the UK, you will need to obtain authorisation (unless you meet any of the exemptions outlined in the Regulations).
If you are here with student immigration permission (either Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4), you will be able to continue to be here beyond the date your immigration permission has expired without needing to make an immigration application. You must ensure you have valid immigration permission until 30 June 2013. We have asked the Home Office if you will be able to continue or start working without having to apply for authorisation if your student permission is valid beyond 1 July 2013.
We strongly advise you to obtain comprehensive sickness insurance before this date, so that you are exercising your right to reside as a student according to current UK requirements.
The application forms for applying for work authorisation are not yet available.
We will update this information when the Regulations are approved, if we get answers to our questions or when the applications forms are available.
My BR1 application has been pending for many months. Is there anything I can do?
Applications from EEA nationals can be made at Croydon public enquiry office. However, there appear to be very few slots available for processing these applications.
The current processing time for BR1 applications appears to be approximately 9 months. However, if you have been waiting a few months and the delay in processing your application is having a detrimental impact on you or your course of studies (for example you are prevented from doing a work placement as part of your course), you may wish to consult your MP or seek legal advice about your options.
How do my non-EEA national family members come to the UK?
Your family members can apply for an EEA family permit online or using form VAF5. This application is free of charge. There are guidance notes for form VAF5. If your family members are not visa nationals and they are coming to stay with you for under six months, they do not need to get an EEA family permit before travelling, and can just apply when they arrive in the UK. They will need evidence of their relationship to you.
I am a Bulgarian or Romanian national who has completed a degree, postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma in the UK or a HND in Scotland; can I apply as a Highly Skilled Person?
The Eligibility and Application information on the UKBA's website does not specifically mention the route open to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who have successfully completed either:
- a recognised UK Bachelor's degree, Master's degree or PhD at a recognised institution anywhere in the UK OR
- a postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma in England, Wales or Northern Ireland OR
- a HND in Scotland
Where can I find out more about being an EEA or Swiss national in the UK?
There is more detailed guidance for employers and employees about the Worker Authorisation Scheme for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.
I want to challenge the UK Government's interpretation of EC law
If you think the UK Government has not interpreted or implemented European Community law correctly, for example, in relation to bringing non-EEA family members to the UK, acquiring the right of permanent residence, or your eligibility for home fees and Student Support, you can seek advice from the following:
- SOLVIT - the European Commission coordinates this network of Solvit centres (there is one in every EEA member state) which aim to resolve problems in a wide range of areas covered by EC law without having to take legal proceedings. You can submit a case to SOLVIT online free of charge. If you are complaining about the UK Government's application of EC law, you should apply to the UK office
- Solicitors who specialise in EC law - select EU law as the area of law and enter your postcode or town name or the country of the UK where you live or study, that is England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
- Aire Centre - this centre specialises in EC law and can provide advice free of charge, but only to other advisers. If you have advisers at your college or university, they might agree to contact the Aire Centre for you if they feel it is appropriate.