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Advice and Counselling Service

Rights in the UK (immigration, healthcare, working, study and other rights)

Immigration/ Entering the UK




Welfare Benefits

Exercising other rights

Immigration/ Entering the UK

Moving to the UK before 31 December 2020

EU/ EEA (& Swiss) students who are already resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be able to exercise their rights to enter and reside in the UK until that date, without the need for additional immigration permission, just by producing a valid passport or a national identity card from EU/ EEA member states or Switzerland.

The UK government website provides guidance on rights to enter the UK and on rights to reside in the UK

There is some specific information for Irish citizens on the UK government website

Most EU/ EEA nationals who wish to continue to reside in the UK beyond 31 December 2020 will need to apply to the EU settlement Scheme in order to remain in the UK. More information can be found in our How to stay in the UK: About the EU Settlement Scheme webpages. 

Moving to the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards

If you do not already live in the UK before the end of 2020, to move to the UK from 1 January 2021 for a course of six months or more you will need to apply for student immigration permission. You will need to complete an application, pay an application fee, and have a current passport or other valid travel document. You will need to meet specific requirements and to pass relevant checks, including UK criminality checks. There is more information in our Guide called Apply for student immigration permission


Moving to the UK before 31 December 2020

We recommend that you register with a doctor (GP) as soon as you can after you arrive in the UK.

Detailed information for international and EU/EEA students on seeing a doctor, medical emergencies, other healthcare services, dentist and eye-sight is on Queen Mary University of London's Student Health web pages

EU/ EEA and Swiss citizens will continue to be able to access NHS services as they do now until 31 December 2020 regardless of having made an application for settled or pre-settled status.

Those who apply to the EU Settlement Scheme successfully will have access beyond this date if granted either settled status or pre-settled status.  

Those arriving in the UK before 31 December 2020 are required to hold Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) if they are in the UK as a student or as self-sufficient person. This would usually mean obtaining a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving your home country, or a private health insurance policy. UKCISA has information about the EHIC. 

Whilst there is a requirement for permanent residence applications for EEA citizens coming to the UK as either a student or a self-sufficient person to prove that they have had CSI in place for at least five years, evidence of CSI is not required once you have been granted pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme - you will then be able to access healthcare without needing CSI. 

Moving to the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards

If you are moving to the UK after the end of 2020, you will need to apply for student immigration permission. This includes a requirement to pay an Immigration Health Charge as part of your immigration application, so that you can then access healthcare in the UK. For more information please read our Guide called Apply for student immigration permission 


Moving to the UK before 31 December 2020

We have written an advice guide about Part time and vacation work (how to look for a job, how much you can get paid, how to get a National Insurance number, will you pay Income Tax, can you work).

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who moved to the UK by 31 December 2020 are able to work in the UK restriction free and only have to show an employer a valid passport or national identity card as proof of your right to work. The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is 30 June 2021, if you wish to stay in the UK beyond that date. Employers will then need to see proof that you have been granted either pre-settled or settled status under the EUSS.  

The UK government website provides guidance for employers on EU/ EEA citizens rights to work in the UK.

Moving to the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards

If you are moving to the UK after the end of 2020, you will need to apply for student immigration permission. The conditions of that permission restrict the amount of hours a student can take employment to 20 hours a week during term-time for degree level courses or above.

We have written an advice guide about Part time and vacation work (how to look for a job, how much you can get paid, how to get a National Insurance number, will you pay Income Tax, can you work).


We have guidance on our website about studying at Queen Mary, including study support and changes to your studies. EU/ EEA national.

See our Fees & Funding pages for EU/ EEA students for more information on the eligibility rules for tuition fee and living cost support.

Welfare Benefits

Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit that has replaced all means-tested benefits for most new claimants. These include Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, (Income-related) Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), (Income-related) Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support and Working Tax Credit.

Qualifying Conditions

Most students, including EU/EEA nationals, cannot claim Universal Credit unless they meet certain basic qualifying conditions applicable to most welfare benefits. These are:

  • you are responsible for a child, or;
  • you have regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person, or;
  • you have taken time out from your course because of illness or caring responsibilities which have ended, and you are waiting to return to your course but you are not eligible for a grant or a loan.
  • you have a limited capability for work
  • you (and your partner if you are making a ‘joint claim’) must not have capital of more than £16,000 and any earnings or income you have must not be too high for any universal credit to be paid. 

Right to Reside Test

EU/EEA nationals who meet the above qualifying conditions for Universal Credit are required to pass an additional ‘right to reside’ test, and if they pass this, they can be assessed for habitual residence. Several types of status demonstrate a right to reside:

  • Student
  • Self-sufficient person
  • Worker or self-employed person who has ceased activity
  • Family member of the above

Pre-Settled Status is not evidence of the Right to Reside

According to the Universal Credit regulations pre-settled status alone is not evidence of the right to reside:

These Regulations amend the income-related benefit regulations [including the Universal Credit Regulations 2013] to reflect that a new right to reside has been created for nationals of European Economic Area states (“EEA nationals”) in Appendix EU to the immigration rules made under section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77), in the form of limited leave to enter, or remain in, the United Kingdom. The effect of these Regulations is that this new right to reside [ie pre-settled status] is not a relevant right to reside for the purposes of establishing habitual residence.

A recent court case Fratila and Tanase v SSWP [2020] EWHC 998 (Admin), has also confirmed that pre-settled status alone does not confer a qualifying right to reside. The Child Poverty Action Group is currently appealing this determination. 

However, if you are an EU/EEA national student with pre-settled status who meets the basic qualifying conditions, you should still pass the right to reside test on the basis of your student status or one of the other status’s mentioned above.

Habitual Residence Test

The second part of the two-step process, once you have passed the right to reside test, is the habitual residence test, which for welfare benefit purposes, is broadly similar to the ordinary residence test.

If you have lived in the UK for five years or more, where the centre of your life is in the UK, meeting the test should be reasonably straightforward. If you have arrived more recently or you are a student who splits your time between different countries, you may need to provide more extensive evidence of your circumstances. The type of evidence that you should consider submitting as part of your Universal Credit claim includes:

  • Evidence of when you arrived in the UK (e.g. passport, travel tickets, tenancy agreement)
  • Evidence of your study e.g. your Student Status Letter
  • Evidence that the UK is your main home (e.g. tenancy agreement or mortgage statement, payslips, letter from GP or medical records, HMRC records, evidence of membership of local clubs or societies, bank statements)
  • Evidence that your future lies in the UK (e.g. evidence of a job offer, evidence that your children have been enrolled in school)

For information on how to claim Universal Credit and how much you could be awarded see our Students with children web page and our Extra Money for Disability and Ill-Health advice guide. 

If you are moving to the UK after the end of 2020, and have not applied to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, it is unlikely you will be eligible for Universal Credit under the new immigration system. 

Exercising other rights & services in the UK

EU/ EEA students who are in the UK before 31 December 2020 can access other rights and services, such as renting a property by showing an EU/ EEA passport or national identity card.

The UK government have published guidance to landlords among others about how EU/ EEA citizens can prove their rights in the UK.

Information about staying in the UK after 31 December 2020 can be found in our About the EU Settlement Scheme webpages.

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