Leaving the EU

The UK left the European Union (EU) on the 31 January 2020. A transition period was in place until 31 December 2020 and now a new relationship with the EU is beginning. This includes the Northern Ireland Protocol and a UK/EU Trade and Cooperation agreement (further details available on the NI Direct website: EU exit and the NI Protocol | Trade & Cooperation Agreement)

The Department is working with organisations involved in the delivery of education to ensure that services continue unimpeded under the new relationship arrangements. Education, childcare and youth settings continue to operate as normal [subject to the separate COVID 19 Guidance for schools and educational settings].

Information for schools and other education settings on EU Exit is contained on this page and will continue to be updated.

The UK Government has produced a comprehensive range of advice and information on EU Exit which is available at: Brexit - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Information is also available on nidirect

The EU Settlement Scheme

The UK government reached an agreement with the EU that protects the rights of EU citizens and their family members living in Northern Ireland. This means that most citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in NI. (The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.)  The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

Read the guidance on EU Settlement Scheme to find out who needs to apply.

There are separate arrangements for Irish citizens, who will continue to benefit from existing arrangements under the Common Travel Area. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter, work and study in the UK as they do now. However, they may apply to the Settlement Scheme if they wish.

Pupils living in the Republic of Ireland attending school in Northern Ireland

Children living on one side of the border are able to access an education on the other side of the border. 

The right of Irish nationals to access education will continue to be protected under the Common Travel Area arrangements.  For pupils who are non-Irish EU nationals, see below.

Pupils who are EU, EEA or Swiss nationals

The school admissions process in Northern Ireland does not take into account either immigration status or nationality and so schools must not deny a child a place on the basis of their nationality or migration status. Schools are, however, required by law to prioritise children resident in NI at the time of their proposed admission over other children.

Until 31 December 2020, all European Economic Area (‘EEA’) and Swiss national children continued to have the right, under UK immigration law, to enter the country to access a school.

Any EEA or Swiss national arriving in the UK by 31 December 2020 was eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and to continue to be able to study in schools if their application was successful.

Information for EU citizens wishing to stay in the UK is available here: Stay in the UK after it leaves the EU

Prepare as an employer

The UK has introduced a points-based immigration system which will apply to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals from 1 January 2021 and will change how you employ people who are not UK or Irish nationals. Read the advice about employing EU citizens or information on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK, covering right to work checks, the EU Settlement Scheme and the UK’s new immigration system.

Frontier Workers

You’re a frontier worker if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you are employed or self-employed in the UK but live elsewhere.  On 1 January 2021 the UK’s points-based immigration system came into effect, Frontier workers were able to retain their status if they were working in the UK by 31 December 2020, and applied for a frontier worker permit.  Read the guidance for frontier workers who want to continue working in the UK or who wish to begin employment in the UK.

Irish citizens do not need to do anything to continue working in the UK from 1 January 2021.


Read the latest information on the Erasmus+ programme.



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