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Advice and Counselling Service

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





Welfare Benefits

Exercising other rights


It is essential that you understand what permission you need to live and study in the UK. You will have different rights in the UK depending on the type of immigration permission you have. Due to the UK leaving the EU, the immigration permission required by EU, EEA and Swiss nationals varies depending on whether you established residence in the UK before the end of the transition period (11pm on 31 December 2020) or afterwards:

Nationals of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are not subject to immigration control, and can enter the UK without obtaining immigration permission.  

Family members
If you are not an EEA or Swiss national yourself, but you are coming to the UK with a family member who is, you are exempt from UK immigration controls. However, applying for an EEA Family Permit will make travel and entry more straightforward. For more information see the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website

Entering the UK border
You can enter through the eGates if your passport has a ‘chip’ on it and you are a national of an EU or EEA country or Switzerland. Because you will not be stamped in at the border, it is essential that you understand what type of immigration permission you have in the UK - please see above. 

If you enter through the eGates, then it is advisable to keep evidence of the date you arrived in the UK i.e. flight ticket and boarding pass. 

If you are entering the UK as someone who has been granted status or is eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, EU and EEA identity cards can continue to be used for travel up until 01 October 2021 but you may find it faster to use your passport rather than your EEA national identity card at the UK border. This is because passports are faster for Border Force officers to process and because you can use your EU passport at the eGates. After 1 October 2021 EEA nationals will not be able to travel on an EEA identity card to study within the UK. If you are entering the UK with Student immigration permission you must travel with your passport.


Your right to accessing healthcare in the UK depends on your immigration permission to the UK, which will vary according to when you moved here. This is explained on Queen Mary University of London's Student Health web pages The page includes information on seeing a doctor, medical emergencies, other healthcare services, dental and eye care.

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


If you are a national of the EU/EEA or Switzerland who has been granted Pre-Settled or Settled status or, you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for Pre-settled or Settled Status before 30 June 2021 because you were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, you can work in the UK without restriction.

Employers have a legal obligation to check whether you have a right to work in the UK. Once you have been granted Pre-Settled or Settled Status, or applied for your visa and used the UK Immigration ID Check to scan your identity doucment onto your phone, you will be able to access a share code online which you can show to employers as evidence of your status in the UK. 

Nationals of the EU, EEA and Switzerland who move to the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards with Student or Visitor immigration permission should read the Rules about working for EU/EEA and Swiss nationals section of our Part time and vacation work advice guide.

The Part time and vacation work advice guide also contains lots of useful advice about how to look for a job, how much you can get paid, how to get a National Insurance number, will you pay Income Tax, as well as important advice about restrictions on the type of work you can do. 

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


There is lots of helpful advice on our Your Studies webpage about study support you can access throughout your course as well as a dedicated How we support you page on the main Queen Mary website.

Eligibility rules for tuition fee and living cost support are set out on our Fees and Funding webpage. These can be complicated, so do not hesitate to contact a Welfare Adviser if you need help understanding your eligibility for these. 

Welfare Benefits

The information in this section applies to you if you are a national of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and:

  • You have been granted Pre-settled or Settled Status,
  • Or you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for Pre-settled or Settled Status before 30 June 2021 because you were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020

If you are in the UK with immigration permission as a Student or Visitor you will have a 'No Recourse to Public Funds' restriction which means you are not eligible for UK welfare benefits and will need to ensure you have sufficient funds for the duration of your course. You might find it helpful to use our budgeting resources to help plan your finances.

If you are elligble to apply for welfare benefits, it is important to note that 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 and Swiss 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 and Swiss 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 or Swiss 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. 

Exercising other rights & services in the UK

Whilst you are in the UK, you may need to access other rights and services such as renting a property. The website explains the process for proving your right to rent.

If you have been granted Pre-Settled Status, you might also find it useful to refer to our EU Settlement Scheme webpage which has useful FAQs around how absences from the UK are treated, including how these might impact on any future application you make for Settled Status. 

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