Writing this on ‘Brexit Day’, 31 Jan 2020, I’m acutely reminded of the fact that people’s ability to move around to study and work abroad is in a state of flux, so this seems a good time to focus on where we seem to be right now, and where we might be heading. Here are some pointers and useful links to guidance on what’s in place now and what the future may hold.
Current guidance by the British Government is that as tourists our ability to travel to Europe during the transition period to 31 Dec 2020 is not affected. The British Council, charged with supporting ‘cultural relations and educational opportunities’, offers little new advice today. It has, however officially recommended to UK and EU leaders that they should negotiate “a post-Brexit agreement for the education, culture, science and research sectors that does not inhibit their vital ease of movement, but rather, seeks to enhance and facilitate it.” Positive words that have been supported by more than 600 official signatories across 28 nations. They go on to say that any measures put in place to control such mobility “should be low-cost, rapid-to-process and applied for adequate periods, to encourage continued collaboration and partnership.”
UK Government in September 2019 advised universities and other higher education providers to make sure their European students and staff know that “they’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 2020… they will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.” On these pages they give guidance on fee status, leave to remain and other useful advice. Guidance for UK nationals, on what the Transition Period means, points out that any given country’s own rules apply should you wish to live or work there. You can see advice for an extensive list of countries on what to do and where to get more information.
For example to live in Spain for more than 3 months currently requires registration as a Spanish resident and “If you arrive in Spain before the end of the implementation period, you will be able to register as resident in Spain under the current rules, and will have your right to residence in Spain protected for as long as you remain resident.” This is the case unless the rules and processes change after Brexit, so you’d need to check with up-to-date guidance at the time of making any plans. As for movement about Europe: “The rules on travel will stay the same until the implementation period ends on 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.”
Being registered as a resident in Spain gives you the right to work there too, subject to whatever checks of criminal records, qualifications and experience are in place, and this is true beyond the transition period if you’re residency starts before 31 December 2020. There is advice for all the listed countries which you should check if you’re planning to travel for work in the EU in 2020 or beyond. So check this link and follow the advice for whichever country you’re considering – for example the guidance for France is different, but the right to remain after 31 December 2020 follows similar principles.
Studying in an EU country will also follow rulkes according to which country you wish to study in, once UK citizens are not EU citizens. In France the rules changed in September 2019, so if you register on a course after that date your fees may well be higher than they would have been previously. There is no specific guidance on the site regarding studying in Spain, Italy, or Ireland for example, so this is something you would certainly need to check with the relevant government, or get advice from a specific university you’re applying to before ‘signing up’ to go. Although a motion in the UK Parliament failed to force UK leaders to negotiate to stay in the Erasmus+ programme, the government seem to have indicated a desire to do so in any case. So this is something else to watch out, and perhaps lobby, for, as it has helped so many students expand their horizons internationally.
Arrangements for the USA and elsewhere are rather different. For example the US State Department offers exchange visitor programs to “enable foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training” through the J-1 Visa. In particular, university students can take part in an internship directly related to their degree programme with a USA-based employer registered with the program. This enables them to “gain exposure to U.S. culture
as they experience U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.”
The hospitality industry offers numerous opportunities through the J-1 where students work for 6 months to a year, benefit from cultural exchange as well as practical experience, and then return home, usually to complete their studies. Some important considerations here are the requirement for a separate visa sponsor, and the need to be in ‘good academic standing’, i.e. your results need to be good enough to benefit from the experience and contribute to the business. There are a limited number of licensed visa sponsors approved by the US State Department, and different employers or intermediaries tend to work with particular sponsors. The sponsor’s role is to ensure you provide full background details to apply for the visa, collect references and a statement from yourself of how you will benefit from the internship and apply the learning (importantly) after you return home. They’re responsible for ensuring your internship has been approved, that you therefore qualify for the J-1 visa, and that you undertake the full internship to meet the visa conditions. Generally there’s an opportunity immediately before or after the internship to travel in the US, helping to meet the cultural aims of the program.