Study visits will still be possible in the United Kingdom after Brexit – subject to new entry and residence provisions. Below is a summary of the new regulations.


The United Kingdom (UK) only left the EU a few weeks ago, so some of the details are yet to be clarified. Exchange projects that have already been authorised can take place, and new projects can be applied for as part of the current call for projects – the latter will be subject to new entry and residence provisions, however. Movetia is doing everything it can in its area of responsibility to find pragmatic solutions to the unresolved questions so that exchanges and mobility between Switzerland and the UK can continue to take place as they have done to date. This page provides up-to-date information about exchanges with the UK.

What has changed as a result of Brexit?

The UK definitively left the EU at the end of 2020. This means that the agreements between Switzerland and the EU no longer apply to the UK. Some are still in the process of being negotiated. In the area of exchanges and mobility, the free movement of persons is particularly affected: new entry and residence provisions apply, and visas are required for certain activities. Exchanges and mobility with the UK are still possible, however.

To enter the country, a passport is required (ID cards are no longer accepted) and confirmation of enrolment from the university or school or confirmation of employment from the employer may also have to be provided.

 

What has changed now that the UK has left Erasmus+?

Following its exit from the European Union, the UK has also left the Erasmus+ programme. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be leaving the European education programme just as negotiations were drawing to a close. Ongoing projects with the UK can be completed.

In the future, the UK will implement its own programme. Known as the Turing scheme, this programme is expected to facilitate stays abroad around the world – including in Switzerland – for around 35,000 UK students per year. There are no plans for the Turing scheme to include support for incoming mobility, i.e. for students who wish to study in the UK. The British government has already made GBP 100 million available for the new programme. An exception applies for Northern Ireland: the Irish government would like to finance Northern Ireland’s continued participation in the Erasmus+ programme.

Will Movetia continue to fund study visits to the UK?

Nothing will change for the time being with regard to ongoing projects and the latest 2021 call for projects for the Swiss Erasmus+ programme. Mobility from and to the UK will continue to be supported. The Language Assistants Programme will continue to be run between Switzerland and the UK.

For subsequent years, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and Movetia will explore new possibilities for collaboration with the UK. The required legal framework is in place for this (the Federal Act on International Cooperation and Mobility in Education (BIZMB)).

What are the rules for studying and learning in the UK?

Anyone studying at a British higher education institution or school for less than six months will not need a visa in the future. The purpose of the stay is clearly limited to studying, however. Students will not be permitted to do paid or voluntary work during their stay.

From 1 January 2021 onwards, anyone who wants to stay in the UK for longer than six months will have to apply for a student visa. To get a residence permit of this kind, applicants must submit confirmation of acceptance for a study or school place at a school or higher education institution named on this list. They must also prove that they have sufficient financial resources for the stay and a good command of English. The visa application can be completed online and costs GBP 348. Holders of visas must also pay an immigration health surcharge for access to the National Health Service (NHS). The fee for students is GBP 470 per year.

For students aged between 4 and 17, it is necessary to apply for a child student visa. In addition to the forms of evidence listed above, the parents’ consent is also required.

A short-term study visa is required for language studies lasting between 6 and 11 months. The fee for this is GBP 186, plus the same healthcare costs of GBP 470.

How are short stays for teachers and staff of educational institutions organised?

Stays as part of staff mobility schemes are possible without a visa for a maximum of one month. Please consult the following website for detailed information: check if you need a UK visa.

Access to the UK labour market: vocational and student internships

For student and vocational internships in the United Kingdom, a tier 5 temporary worker visa will be required from 2021 onwards. A precondition for this visa is a British sponsor for the internship. For mobility as part of the Erasmus+ programme, the British Council can be this sponsor. To date, this solution has not been possible for mobility from Switzerland, however. Discussions regarding a simplified bilateral solution are currently under way between Switzerland and the UK. As soon as initial results and experience have been gathered, we will communicate the processes that must be followed in order to gain access to the UK labour market.

Access to the UK labour market: do language assistants require a visa?

Language assistants will also need a tier 5 temporary worker visa to work in the UK. The visa must be supported by the British Council. It can be applied for no earlier than three months before the stay and costs GBP 244. Holders of visas must also pay an immigration health surcharge for access to the National Health Service (NHS). For tier 5 visa holders, this fee is GBP 624 per year (only if the stay lasts longer than six months). The maximum duration of the visa is 24 months.

What are the rules for British mobility to Switzerland (incoming mobility)?

The end of the agreement on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the UK will also have an effect on incoming mobility. UK mobility to Switzerland now falls into the third-country category, meaning that residence and work permits are required.

The specific requirements for students from the UK are as follows:

  • Stay of less than three months: British citizens can enter the country without a visa and no residence permit is required.
  • Stay of longer than three months: British citizens can enter the country without a visa. Once they have received confirmation of admission from the school or educational institution they will be attending, students must apply for a residence permit from the relevant cantonal authority before or after entering Switzerland. Various conditions have to be fulfilled for this: applicants must submit the confirmation from the school or educational institution, a personal study plan and a CV and prove that they have sufficient financial resources and suitable accommodation for their stay. In addition, they must also have health insurance. 

For interns and language assistants:

  • A residence and work permit is required irrespective of the duration of the stay.
  • All student and vocational internships, voluntary and other forms of unpaid work fall into this category.
  • The employer must apply for a work permit from the responsible cantonal authorities. The costs vary by canton. If the canton and the State Secretariat for Migration (SSM) issue the permit, the person in question must then apply for permission to enter Switzerland from the Swiss embassy in London (a passport, a passport photo and payment of a fee are required for this). Having arrived in Switzerland, they must register with their local municipality within 14 days (the place of residence should be in the canton in which they are working). An employment contract, passport and confirmation of health insurance are required for this.

No entry and residence permit is required for participation in conferences, continuing education and training courses and similar events that last less than three months.