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Q&A for researchers: Working in the EU and UK

Will the status of non-UK nationals working or studying in the UK change now the UK has left the EU?

The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement maintains visa-free work and study rights for individuals from the European Economic Area and Switzerland (hereafter 'EEA') for the duration of the Brexit transition period. This is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020. Once the transition period has concluded, the UK government intends to end free movement for EEA nationals and introduce a points based visa system for all migrant workers.

EEA nationals who have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living here. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021 and information on eligibility can be found on the GOV.UK website.

In February 2020, the government launched a new Global Talent visa for scientists, researchers and specialists which will remain open under the future immigration system.

Will UK nationals be able to work or study elsewhere in the EU now the UK has left?

UK nationals are currently free to work and study in other EEA countries without a visa. The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement protects this right for the duration of the Brexit transition period which is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020. The visa treatment of UK nationals after the transition period will be decided by individual countries. Information on visiting EU/EEA countries from 1 January 2021 can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Will the Royal Society provide additional funding to support immigration and relocation expenses for researchers coming to work in the UK from around the world?

We do not fully know how the immigration system will change when the UK leaves the EU and what impact this will have on the costs of immigration and relocation. We are keeping this under review.

What will happen to EU laws, policies and regulations which apply to science and research following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU?

The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 transposes existing EU regulation into UK law at the point that the UK exits the EU. This means there will be no immediate changes to regulations governing science. The extent to which the UK will follow or diverge from EU regulations in future is not yet known.

Find out more about the Royal Society's work on Brexit

The Royal Society is working to achieve the best outcome for research and innovation through the Brexit negotiations and support continuing relationships and build new ones across Europe and beyond.

Read a summary of our Brexit stance (PDF) and UK and international visa costs analysis. Our evidence reports on ‘UK research and the EU’ focus on people (PDF), funding (PDF) and regulation (PDF).

This page was last updated on 24 February 2020

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