Today marks the opening of the EU settlement scheme for UK-based EU citizens and their non-EU citizen family members holding a valid biometric residence card. Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland cannot apply during this test phase.
Officially, applications will be open to everyone from 29 March 2019. The EU Settlement Scheme is a UK immigration status created for EU citizens who wish to remain in the UK after Brexit.
“I am worried about the tuition fees rising for EU students and the fact that we will have to soon ask for a visa to enter the UK,” said Danish-French citizen Clara NeergardDelcourt. She will start her master’s degree in European and International Public Policy at LSE in September 2019.
The chaos of Brexit has raised concerns about the implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme and if it will actually allow EU citizens to remain. Last month, the Home Office released the post-Brexit immigration policy, which provoked outrage among EU citizens who will lose their privileges and will be considered like any other applicants.
Among the proposals, a wage threshold of £30,000 a year for “high-skilled” migrants will be set to apply for work visas. In a 2017 official report, the median salaries for young graduates ranged from £29,500 in London to £22,000 in other regions including the West Midlands or the North East.
Despite the EU settlement scheme, EU nationals studying in a UK university worry that they won’t be able to stay. “Through my teaching assistant job, I already got my EU permanent settle scheme. But I am still not reassured because those things could change if there is no Brexit” said Alexandra Bulat, a PhD Candidate at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. “The EU settlement status was created in case of an agreement and at the moment, it’s just a promise, not legislation.”
Brexit has already affected some EU graduates. French national Marie-Kenza Yousri completed her master’s degree in Environment and Development at the LSE in September 2018. She started to look for jobs in the UK but eventually returned home: “Of course it depends on your degree, but I can only name a few people who started working in the UK after graduating. None of them are from the EU. In uncertainty, companies are more likely to go either straight up to British people or non-EU-people for whom the visa-sponsoring is unlikely to change.”