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Queen Mary and Brexit

Information about the Brexit process for staff

(Updated  9 April 2021)

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. Since then, the UK has been in a transition period where EU rules continue to apply.  This transition period has allowed the two parties to negotiate their future relationship.  The transition period will end at 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020.   

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Act agreed between the UK and EU, prior to the UK’s exit, the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK are protected.  These protections will be in place no matter the outcome of the on-going negotiations regarding the future relationship between the two parties.   

Similar agreements have been reached between the UK and the Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.  

To enable EEA nationals to confirm their status in the UK the UK Government launched the EU Settlement Scheme.  This scheme is open to all EEA nationals and their family members who are resident in the UK before the end of the transition period. 

A summary of the EU Settlement Scheme can be found below. You can find full information on the EU citizens' rights website.


Under the post-Brexit UK/EU trade deal, the UK will ‘associate’ to the EU research programme ‘Horizon Europe’ (2021-2027) on equivalent terms to EU Member States. The UK and EU need to formally adopt the association agreement once the EU Programme Regulations are finalised.

The European Commission’s Q&A document confirms UK entities are already eligible to apply for Horizon Europe calls.

This means UK researchers will be able to be a partner and lead Horizon Europe projects from the start. Are eligible for funding from the collaborative research and innovation schemes and ‘bottom up’ research schemes such as the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

The European Research Council (2021) work programme is the first programme under Horizon Europe to be approved and calls launched. The UK is eligible to these first ERC deadlines: Starting Grants is 8 April 2021 and Consolidator Grants is 20 April 2021.

As per the Withdrawal Agreement, UK participation in the EU programmes under the period 2014-2020 remain unchanged. Successful UK participants will still receive EU R&I Horizon 2020 funding from the EC for the project’s full duration.  Current UK H2020 grant holders will still be paid by the EC for the project’s full duration.

Keep up to date on Horizon Europe via the Joint Research Management Office’s EU Unit Portal for funding opportunities, bespoke guidance, news and webinars.

For queries, please contact Vicky Byers, JRMO EU Section Manager (

Clinical trials and research regulations

The Joint Research Management Office (JRMO) together with relevant research teams have put into place contingency plans to ensure continuation of its clinical trials within Europe in the event of the UK leaving without a deal. Data, sample investigational medical products and legal representation have all been considered and addressed. 

The JRMO has recently (September 2020) completed the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) contingency deep dive surveys and all subsequent guidance. We are working to ensure that study sponsor responsibilities for Trial registration and publication, clinical trials submission, pharmacovigilance submission are met post Brexit.

We have been working with individual teams to ensure contingency plans are in place for delivery of studies, including any necessary IMP stockpiling and availability of equipment/kits. Queen Mary will no longer be able to be the legal sponsor of clinical trials taking place in Europe. Going forwards, one of the European sites will need to take on legal representative role for sponsor.

The UK’s standalone medicines and medical devices regulator, the MHRA, has published guidance on the regulation of medicines and medical devices at the end of the Brexit-transition period. To help ensure continuity of supply of medicines and medical devices from 1 January 2021, especially in a non-negotiated outcome with the EU, the UK will unilaterally recognise certain EU regulatory processes for a time-limited period - known as ‘standstill’. 

New government guidance has been published regarding quality and safety for suppliers of blood, organs, tissues and cells, new government guidance has been published on quality and safety from 1 January 2021 and on quality and safety of human blood and blood components. Our HTA Research License will not require any changes post Brexit.

Any questions or queries regarding Queen Mary and Barts Health-sponsored clinical trials should be sent to: Marie-Claire Good, JRMO



The rights of EEA nationals and their family members who are resident in the UK before 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 are protected under the terms of the Withdrawal Act (2021).  EEA nationals will continue to be able to live, work, and study in the UK and access services such as healthcare and benefits. 


EU nationals and their family members who are residing in the UK will need to make an application under the Settlement Scheme in order to continue to reside lawfully in the UK after 31 December 2020.  Full details of the Scheme are set out in the Caseworker Guidance.  The key points are as follows:

  • EU nationals and their family members (spouse, civil partner, durable partner, dependent child or grandchild, and dependent parent or grandparent) who by 31 December 2020 have been continuously resident in the UK for five years will be eligible to apply for settled status, enabling them to stay indefinitely.
  • EU nationals and the family members who arrive in the UK by 31 December 2020, but who will not have been continuously resident for five years, will be eligible for pre-settled status, enabling them to remain in the UK until they reach the five year threshold. They can then apply for settled status where they have remained continuously resident in the UK for a five-year period.

All EEA nationals and their family members need to apply in order to continue to reside lawfully in the UK, subject to limited exceptions:

  • Irish nationals are not required to apply, but can do so if they wish.
  • EU nationals who have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or indefinite leave to enter (ILE) (which is not the same as permanent residence) are not required to apply, but can do so if they wish. It is sensible to do so due to the more favourable rights that apply under the Settlement Scheme.
  • If you are an EEA national who also holds British Citizenship you do not need to apply to the scheme. 

EU national family members of British citizens also need to apply under the Settlement Scheme – ie, there is no exemption by virtue of being, for example, the spouse or partner of a British citizen.


Yes. But individuals with permanent residence documents are effectively able to ‘convert’ their permanent residence status to the new settled status, subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check, and proof of ongoing residence.


Applications are made online and using an app.  Applications can usually be completed in around 15 minutes.  The default position is to grant applications, rather than to look for reasons to refuse.  Applicants are afforded an opportunity to provide supplementary evidence or remedy any deficiencies in the evidence provided where it appears that a simple omission has occurred.  More than one million applications have now been processed.  The Government have published a how to guide for making an application to the scheme.

The eligibility criteria are straightforward.  Applicants are required to meet three core criteria:

  • Identity – you verify your identity by scanning your biometric passport, biometric national identity card or biometric residence card using the EU Exit: ID Document Check app (available on both Android 6 (or later) smartphones and Apple iPhones). Alternatively, you can send your identity document to the Home Office by post.  You will also need to verify your identity by uploading a photo of yourself.
  • Proof of residence – you prove your residence in the UK by providing your National Insurance number, if you have one. HMRC checks will then be conducted and payment of tax and national insurance will be taken as proof of evidence of residence in the UK.  Other documentation may be used, or required, to show proof of residence for periods where you have not been in work and paying tax and national insurance (eg, bank statements, utility bills, mortgage statements, or proof of study).
  • Criminality check – you complete the criminality check by declaring any criminal convictions. Only serious or persistent criminality should affect application.


There is no requirement to have private medical insurance to qualify under the Settlement Scheme.  EU nationals do not need to account for every absence from the UK (ie, a travel log is not be required) and there is no requirement to establish English language competency.  Furthermore, there is no requirement for EU nationals to have been undertaking qualifying activities during the five year period – eg, being in employment, or being a student. 


The Settlement Scheme is free of charge.



A person must have been continuously resident in the UK for five years in order to be eligible to apply for settled status.  In general, a person will have been continuously resident if they have not been absent from the UK for more than six months in total in any 12 month period.  There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12 month period.  Limited exceptions apply and these are set out in the Caseworker Guidance

Settled status will enable EU nationals to reside in the UK in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity.  They will continue to have access to UK benefits (eg, healthcare, benefits, pension and social security) in a similar manner to British nationals. 

Most applications usually take around five working days to be processed, in some cases it can take slightly longer..  The current average processing times are published on the Government website.


Yes. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021 provided you were resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020.  



Settled status will be lost if a person spends more the five continuous years outside the UK. But it should be possible to ‘re-set’ the clock for the five years by returning to the UK for a short period of time. 



No. EU nationals who are resident in the UK but who are abroad on business or holiday or living overseas temporarily on the exit date will still be protected. The Government has confirmed that EU nationals will not need a visa to re-enter the UK from after the exit date. 



Yes. EU nationals will continue to be able to enter the UK without a visa in the period up to 31 December 2020. From January 2020, EEA nationals will be able to traavel to the UK visa free for up to 6 months.


Assuming you were married before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), they can be sponsored at any time in the future. They will need to successfully apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit before they travel to the UK.


Further information is available as follows:

  • Detailed guidance is available in the Caseworker Guidance.
  • A bespoke Guidance Page has been published for the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • An Employer Toolkit has been published containing practical guidance on the Settlement Scheme in various brief documents.
  • Periodic updates are also posted on the GOV.UK website and it is possible to sign up for email alerts.

The terms of the Withdrawal Act protect the rights of cross border or “frontier workers. If you are employed by Queen Mary before 31 December 2020, you will continue to be able to commute between your country of residence and the UK.  

The UK Government have introduced a new Frontier Worker Permit to ensure cross border workers can enter the UK visa free. You will need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit before 30 June 2021. The permit will be free of charge and further information about the scheme is here  

You may also be eligible to apply under the Settlement Scheme, but depending on your level of absences from the UK you may qualify only for pre-settled status.  Details in relation to frontier workers can be found here.

The Government has provided advice on how to prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit, including information on Green Cards which can be obtained from your insurance provider.  A Green Card is evidence of motor insurance cover when driving abroad. Currently, you do not need a motor insurance Green Card to drive a UK registered vehicle in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.  Following the UK’s exit from the EU, if there is no EU exit deal and the European Commission does not make a decision ensuring that UK registered vehicles will not be checked for proof of insurance, drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU and EEA.


From 1 January 2021, free movement will end between the UK and EU, all non-British or Irish Citizens will be subject to immigration control.  EEA nationals who intend to move to the UK in 2021 will need to ensure they apply for a visa that reflects what they intend to do in the UK.

EU nationals may be eligible to apply to naturalise as British citizen (ie, to become a British citizen), but this will not be necessary to continue living and working in the UK after Brexit.  Further guidance can be found here.

Different requirements apply depending on whether the applicant is married to, or the civil partner, of a British national:

  • EU nationals who are married to, or the civil partner of, a British national and have been in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years may be eligible to apply for naturalisation.
  • EU nationals who are not married to, or the civil partner of, a British national and have been in the UK for a continuous period of 6 years may be eligible to apply for naturalisation.

EU nationals who are not married to, or the civil partner of, a British national must be free of immigration restrictions for 12 months before they can apply for citizenship.  In practice, this means that such individuals cannot apply for citizenship until 12 months have elapsed since the date they acquired permanent residence / settled status.

EU nationals who are married to, or the civil partner of, a British national can apply for citizenship once they have acquired permanent residence / settled status (ie, the requirement to be free of immigration control for 12 months does not apply).

The other key requirements relate to residence, future intentions (where the applicant does not have a British national spouse or civil partner), good character, knowledge of the English language, and knowledge of life in the UK (applicants must pass a multiple choice exam). 

The residence requirements are quite restrictive. These requirements vary, depending on whether the applicant has a British national spouse or civil partner.  As a general rule, applicants who do not have as British national spouse or civil partner should have spent no more than 450 days outside the UK in the preceding five year period.  During the last 12 months of the five year period the applicant should have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK.  But higher rates of absence are permissible in certain circumstances.  It should be noted that these continuity requirements are more onerous than for permanent residence.

Very careful consideration should be given by an EU national as to whether naturalisation is an appropriate course of action.  An EU national’s home country may not allow dual nationality, meaning that acquiring British citizenship may result in renouncing original nationality, possibly permanently.  An EU national should consider obtaining advice in their home jurisdiction.

In general, British citizenship cannot be lost unless the person renounces it, or is deprived of it because this is considered conducive to the public good, or there is evidence that the citizenship was obtained by fraud or deception.

Children of EU nationals who have resided legally with the EU national in the UK will be eligible to make and application under the Settlement Scheme. 

The law relating to the acquisition of British citizenship is complicated.  It is often advisable to obtain individual advice.  Further guidance can be found in Guide MN1

As a general rule the position can be summarised as follows:

  • Children born in the UK to an EEA national parent who on the date of the birth had indefinite leave to remain, or had been exercising treaty rights continuously for a period of five years, will automatically be British.
  • Children born in the UK who were not automatically British when they were born (because neither parent was a British citizen, or settled in the UK) are entitled to register as British citizens when minors if either parent becomes a British citizen, or becomes settled in the UK. Settled status in the UK for these purposes includes the acquisition of permanent residence or settled status.
  • A child who has lived in the UK for the first 10 years of their life may be able to register as British, even if neither of their parents is settled. Absence requirements apply.
  • Children born abroad to parents who are now applying or British citizenship may be eligible to apply to be registered as British when their parent(s) are apply for British citizenship. However, such an application will usually succeed only if both parents are granted British citizenship, or one parent is granted British citizenship and the other parent is settled.

Applying to register a child as British is different from the application to naturalise as a British citizen as an adult.  However, naturalisation and registration applications can often be made at the same time. 

Erasmus+ Student and Staff Mobility

Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ Programmes. This means that the projects successfully bid for during the current programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including those where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period.

Erasmus+ grants are available for the entire academic year 2021/2022 for Erasmus+ student and staff mobility. Swiss European Mobility Programme (SEMP) will also be available during 2021/22.

The Turing Scheme will also provide funding for student exchanges and work placements taking place in 2021/22.

Questions can be directed to Wiebke Leugers, Erasmus+ Manager (

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