There are many reasons why people either choose to work in education when in the UK or come to the UK with the specific intention of working in the education sector.  Whatever the reason, we recognise that educators from overseas make an extremely valuable contribution to the education system.  That is why we are asking employers to commit to making a serious investment in their migrant staff by promoting their professional and personal development; supporting their efforts to integrate into the community and treating them fairly at work.

We know the uncertainty created by Brexit will have many members from overseas, as well as those overseas, worried about their future in the UK and EU.  We have therefore created three separate hubs of information for

Contact the Adviceline if you encounter problems at work related to your nationality and/or immigration status.

EU exit preparations

The NAHT and NEU are fully committed to supporting all students and school/college staff, including those from overseas.  That is why we have written to the Secretary of Education to inform him of a disturbing development arising from the discourse around a no deal Brexit. 

What will Brexit mean for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU?

  • The settled status scheme for EU nationals living in the UK will open fully from 30 March 2019 and close on 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit).  For more information, refer to the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme – Briefing information (January 2019)
  • To qualify for settled status you must have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period
  • This means that for five years you must have been in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12-month period
  • If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence, you can apply for pre-settled status instead. For more information, refer to government guidance here
  • EU and UK nationals will retain free movement rights during the implementation period (i.e. between 29 March 2019 and 31 December 2020).  This means EU and UK nationals will continue to have an automatic right to work in the UK or EU during the implementation period without evidence of settled or pre-settled status
  • The rights and status of EU nationals already living in the UK will remain the same until 30 June 2021
  • If the EU country where you live requires you to apply for a residence status after 31 December 2020, you will have until at least June 2021 to make that application
  • Existing arrangements between the UK and Ireland under the Common Travel Area will not be affected by Brexit, at least in the short-term.  Details are available under the “Citizens’ rights – UK and Irish nationals in the Common Travel Area” page at
  • The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 ensures that all workers in the UK, regardless of nationality, will continue to be entitled to the rights they have acquired under UK law, including those aspects which come from EU law.  There is no guarantee, however, that workers’ rights will not be diluted in a post-Brexit UK
  • UK nationals working for an EU employer should make themselves aware of the relevant implementing legislation in the EU country in which they work.

Why join the Union if you are an EU national teaching in the UK, or a UK national teaching in the EU?

There are many issues still to be resolved between the UK and the EU.  If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no agreement on:

  • Your employment rights after Brexit
  • Your access to the health service
  • Your rights to pension and social security
  • Recognition of your overseas qualifications (where appropriate)
  • Safeguarding checks that will enable you to work in or continue to work in schools and colleges.

The DfE estimates that around 3% of staff in UK schools are European.  There are therefore likely to be thousands directly impacted by the outcome of Brexit negotiations.  If you are not in a union, your collective voice will not be heard.  Instead of dictating terms to the UK and EU governments, you will be dictated to by them.

What will Brexit mean for non-EU nationals in the UK?

The Government’s recent white paper, “The UK’s future skills-based immigration system” proposes the following changes to the current system:

The UK will have two new work routes

  • One for skilled workers (including teachers and support staff) entitled to stay for longer periods, to bring dependents and in some cases to settle permanently, who will mainly be sponsored by an employer – this will be open to migrants from all countries (including EU countries)
  • Another for temporary short-term workers at all skills levels, not sponsored, but subject to tightly defined conditions.  This will be a transitional route and will only be open to migrants from specified low-risk countries (including EU countries)
  • The new immigration system will be implemented on 1 January 2021 in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
  • The skilled workers route (Tier 2 General) will no longer be capped at 20,700 places a year.
  • The resident labour market test (RLMT), which prevented skilled migrants from taking up work where a less skilled UK worker was available, will be abolished.
  • The process of changing employers in-country (i.e. while in the UK) will be made easier.
  • Individuals will continue to pay a health charge, subject to any discussions with the EU about reciprocal health care.
  • The shortage occupation list (SOL), which exempts migrants from minimum salary thresholds required for settlement, will remain.

Why join the Union if you are a non-EU national teaching in the UK?

The Union has fought for many years against policies which limit the rights of members already in the UK.  We use the experiences ofmigrant educators to demonstrate the impact of such policies on real people.  With your feedback, we have been able to respond to a number of government consultations on migration, namely:

  • The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) call for evidence on the level of an annual limit on Tier 2
  • Proposed changes to allow qualified teachers from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to become permanent teachers in English schools
  • The MAC Review of Tier 2
  • Draft language requirements for public sector workers code of practice
  • The MAC call for evidence – partial review of the shortage occupation list: teachers
  • MAC call for evidence – EEA workers in the labour market
  • Call for evidence: shortage occupation list review.

The Union has also campaigned against the £35K earnings threshold for non-EU nationals settling in the UK and the collection of pupil nationality data in the 2016/17 school census.

We have prevented many members from being wrongly and/or unfairly dismissed by employers who have misunderstood their obligations under the immigration control system, and we have taken action in cases where members have been treated less favourably because of their nationality.

We do not offer immigration advice which is unrelated to your employment rights, but we have on occasion referred members to immigration specialists with whom we have negotiated favourable rates.

Information for union activists

International solidarity officers, union organisers, policy negotiators, district/branch secretaries and school/college reps are encouraged to promote the voluntary code of practice for employers in workplaces.

Adoption of the code will commit employers to making a serious investment in the migrant educators they employ by promoting their professional and personal development; supporting their efforts to integrate into the community (where appropriate) and treating them with fairness and equality at work.

In addition, the government has created a suite of documents for community leaders (below) which union activists may promote in schools and colleges.

Brexit related materials

Poster: important dates distribute this to EU nationals in your school/college group and put them up on school/college notice boards.

EU Settlement Scheme (important information) distribute this to EU nationals in your school/college group and to school/college leaders.

EU Settlement Scheme application distribute this to EU nationals in your school/college group.  Members who encounter problems with the application process should be encouraged to provide feedback to the Union’s Adviceline.

EU exit: no deal preparations for schools in England (31 January 2019) Discuss this document with school leaders.  Ensure they involve the Union in discussions about changes to employment vetting procedures following Brexit.

EU exit: no deal preparations for FE and apprenticeship providers Discuss this document with college leaders.  Ensure they involve the Union in discussions about changes to employment vetting procedures following Brexit.