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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 when the UK leaves the EU?

If approved, the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement will maintain visa-free work and study rights for individuals from the European Economic Area (EEA) until the end of the Brexit transition period. The scheduled end date for the transition is 31 December 2020 but could be pushed back if the UK and EU agree to an extension.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no transition period and EEA nationals arriving in the UK for study and work will be required to apply for a 36-month temporary immigration status called 'European Temporary Leave to Remain'. Further information on no-deal immigration arrangements can be found on the GOV.UK website

For non-UK EEA nationals living in the UK before exit day, a settlement scheme has been introduced so they can apply for permanent residency. Find further information on eligibility at GOV.UK.

Irish citizens’ work, study and residency rights are to be protected unconditionally.

Following Brexit, the UK government has stated its intention to end free movement for EEA nationals through legislation and to introduce an 'Australian-style points based immigration system'. It has also announced plans for a fast-track visa specifically for scientists, researchers and specialists and is consulting on the detail.

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

UK nationals are currently free to work and study in other EEA countries without a visa. If approved, the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement will protect free movement rights until the end of the transition period. The visa treatment of UK nationals after the transition period will be decided by individual countries.

In a no-deal scenario, UK nationals will lose their free movement rights and likely require a visa to enter an EEA country for an extended period of study or work.

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 yet 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 will transpose 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, even in a no-deal scenario. The extent to which the UK will follow or diverge from EU regulations after Brexit is not yet clear.

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), our no-deal factsheet 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 16 September 2019

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