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

What is the immigration status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens working or studying in the UK now the UK has left the EU?

Freedom of movement for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens coming to work or study in the UK ended on 1 January 2021. This means that all non-UK nationals, except for Irish citizens, are now subject to UK immigration rules. If you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland and started living in the UK before 1 January 2021, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for this is 30 June 2021. Otherwise you need to apply for a work or study visa.

Is a visa required for short visits to the UK?

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can travel to the UK for short trips without needing a visa. The same applies to individuals from other countries with visa exempt status. Permitted activities for visiting researchers are listed on GOV.UK.

What types of visa are available to researchers?

Researchers coming to the UK to work may be eligible for a visa under the Global Talent (see below), Skilled Worker or Government Authorised Exchange categories. There are also several student visa categories depending on the applicant’s circumstances and length of stay. Information on all visa options is available on GOV.UK.

What is the Global Talent visa?

The Global Talent visa allows you to work in the UK on a flexible basis with fewer restrictions and costs than other immigration categories. Researchers are encouraged consider this option when applying for a visa.

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

Each EU member state decides its own immigration rules for non-EU citizens. Information on visiting the EU can be found on GOV.UK.

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 transposed EU regulation into UK law when the UK left the EU. The extent to which the UK will follow or diverge from EU regulations in future is not yet known.

Does the Royal Society provide its grant holders with funding to support immigration and relocation costs?

The Royal Society’s grants can cover visa and other costs associated with relocating to the UK.

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

The Royal Society is working to ensure the best outcome for research and innovation following Brexit and support continuing relationships and build new ones across Europe and beyond. Read our Q&As on the UK’s participation in EU programmes including Horizon Europe. Visit our Brexit and UK science page for more information.

This page was last updated on 9 March 2021

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