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Education Immigration e-briefing - Brexit: Further EU Settlement Pilot Scheme extended to EU staff at HE institutions

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


The Home Office announced new information about the EU Settlement programme, known as “settled status”, on 11 October. Up until now the initial pilot scheme has been limited to staff at 3 universities in Liverpool and 12 NHS Trusts in the North West. However, the categories of EU nationals being eligible to apply for settled status under the pilot will shortly be extended under the second phase of the tesing process. Notably for HE institutions, with effect from 15 November, EU citizens working for higher education institutions or overseas higher education institutions holding a Tier 4 sponsor licence will be eligible to apply. The intention of this exercise is to ensure that the Government’s processes are suitable before the scheme is extended to all EU citizens.

Settled status is scheduled to be introduced to all EU citizens following the UK’s departure from the European Union in March 2019. All apart from citizens of Ireland need to complete this process, including those who have already obtained confirmation they are permanent residents in the UK. A streamlined digital application process is anticipated allowing applicants who can establish their identity, residence and absence of disqualifying factors (such as a serious criminal record) to register.

The initial pilot sought up to 4,000 participants, but only 650 applications were made. UK Visas and Immigration provided considerable support to those insitutions who wished to encourage their staff to apply for settled status, this level of support is unlikely to be possible for the large number of employers potentially engaged in this second stage of the pilot – the extension of the pilot goes beyond HE employers. Some groups and trade unions representing staff in the initial pilot recommended that EU citizens should not register at this stage; the fact that their rights after the date of Brexit have yet to be finally determined may have had an impact on this and explain the low numbers who did participate.

According to the latest HESA data, there are 49,530 EU staff working in UK higher education institutions, which represents 12% of the total staff population. Universies UK has welcomed the inclusion of HE staff in the latest pilot stating that this “will provide much needed clarity for our EU staff and for universities”.

UK Visas and Immigration has released an Employer’s Toolkit about settled status, which is a helpful way to explain the process to employees. We recommend that those institutions whose staff are able to apply for settled status communciate this information and consider carefully how they may support EU workers in this process. The Government has stated that this second phase of the pilot will run until 21 December.

For more information on this pilot, settled status or the impact of Brexit on the ability of institutions to recruit and retain staff from the EU please contact;

For more information contact

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