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EU students studying in the UK

As Brexit has now happened the transitional arrangement has now ended. This means from 1 January 2021, EU nationals who have never lived in the UK will now have to apply for a visa to work, study and live in the UK. 

Information for New Students 

As a result of coronavirus (Covid-19) and social distancing measures, teaching and learning at the RCA for academic year 2020/21 will be blended – a combination of online and, where safe, face-to-face activities.

While we look forward to welcoming our students to London, and are committed to offering onsite access where it is safe, we do recognise that some students may not be able to join us in person due to ongoing Covid-related issues that may apply to their individual circumstances. We will ensure, under these circumstances, you will still be able to study and attend classes online for the duration of the academic year 2020/21.

EU students who moved to the UK before 1 January 2021

If you arrived in the UK  before 31 December 2020, you will not be required to apply for a visa from your home country in order to study in the UK. You will have the right to free movement. This means you can come to the UK to study, live, and work as now. 

In order to protect your rights after the UK leaves the EU, you will need to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme after you arrived in the UK, and before 30 June 2021. The application process is easy, user-friendly and free of charge. 

 Guidance on how to apply is available here.  

EU students who move to the UK after 1 January 2021

If you have never lived in the UK before and did not arrive in the UK before 1 January 2021 for long-term study, you will need to be sponsored and obtain a student visa. You will need to pay visa and other associated fees, which can be considered under the new immigration system. Please see our  Student Visa route webpage for further information. 

The guide below provides you with an introduction to the points-based immigration system. 

EU students who are currently living in the UK

If you are already living in the UK you should make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. It is recommended that you make your application as soon as possible to avoid delays if there is a surge in applications. A successful application will allow you to demonstrate your right to live study and work in the UK as long as you arrive in the UK before 1 January 2021. Some employers, landlords etc may want you to demonstrate your right to live, work in the UK as they might not be aware. Those with pre-settled or settled status can view and provide evidence of their status via an online tool.

EU Settlement

In order to remain in the UK after December 2020 and to easily show entitlement to reside, work and study in the UK even prior to this date, EEA nationals and their family members should apply for the EU Settlement Scheme which is a free process by which EU nationals can apply for pre-settled status (also known as limited leave to remain) or settled status (also known as indefinite leave to remain). The application is free to apply.

Settled Status

Settled status is granted to EU nationals who can show that you have lived in the UK for at least five years, means that you are free from immigration control and you do not have to make any further immigration applications (as long as you do not leave the UK for more than five consecutive years, or four years for Swiss citizens). With settled status, you have the same rights to live, work, healthcare and welfare as UK citizens.

Pre- Settled Status 

EU nationals who have not lived in the UK for five years can obtain pre-settled status. You will have to make a further, free, application under the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status once you have lived in the UK for five years (if you wish to remain). Whilst you have pre-settled status, you have the right to live, work and healthcare in the UK. This will be applicable to new students starting this academic year.


The application process via the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app. If a person has a national insurance number, this is usually sufficient for the Home Office to be able to check that they have been residing in the UK. Those who do not have a national insurance number, and this may include newly arrived students, will need to review the documents that can be provided to demonstrate that they are living in the UK. 

There is no minimum residence requirement. As long as the applicant is in the UK when the application is filed and can provide a national insurance number or meet the documentary requirements, the application will be successful. This is providing the application does not fall for refusal based on criminality grounds. If the applicant lives in the UK but is temporarily abroad, they may be able to submit their application from overseas.

Important Note: '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 website for exceptions to this, as well 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.

Further Information

Student Support

The Student Support team offers advice, information and support to all RCA students and offer-holders. Student Support offer confidential help and practical support at any point. We aim to be flexible and responsive and provide a welcoming place to come and talk things through. If you have any concerns of your own do come and see us or get in touch.

If you have any further questions please email [email protected]