The UK was a member of the EU until January 31, 2020. However, it has withdrawn from it, and European citizens are no longer allowed to reside freely on its territory after 31 December 2020. Freedom of movement is common to all EU member states, meaning that if you are a citizen or resident of one of them, you may live and work without restrictions in any other.
On 1 January 2021, new immigration laws came into force. These enable individuals holding EU citizenship to cross the UK's borders without obtaining a visa. This only applies to short-term visits not exceeding six months in total. A number of exceptions therefore exist to visa-free travelling from the EU to UK.
What EU citizens need visa for UK
A number of long-term activities in the United Kingdom require a visa . Without this document, you cannot engage in the following ones:
Studying for longer than half a year in the UK requires obtaining a visa. Applications must be supported with an invitation from the higher education institution, evidence of sufficient level of language proficiency and proof of funding to cover the course fees and accommodation costs.
- Medical Treatment
EU residents can receive emergency treatment without obtaining a visa while visiting the UK. But if the medical procedures are expected to last longer than half a year, registration of a residence permit is required.
Without a special visa issued under the points-based immigration system, individuals holding EU citizenship cannot engage in any income-generating activity in the UK, including short-term jobs. Under this program, professional experience along with other criteria is assessed to identify the most promising candidates to receive a residence permit for working. This system provides the only option for EU passport holders to enter the UK for employment purposes.
- Marriage/Civil partnership
Unless obtaining a visa, EU nationals cannot marry UK citizens or engage in any similar type of legally binding relationship with them. Registration of that document is also required to give notice to the United Kingdom partner. These processes take less than six months, but registration of a marriage/civil partnership visa is still required.
Note that EU visitors wishing to undertake these activities without a residence permit may obtain a waiver. Persons seeking employment, education or similar long-term occupations in the United Kingdom are required to submit a visa application beforehand.
What is the visitor allowed to do?
EU passport holders can undertake a variety of activities when visiting the UK independently of obtaining a visa. By successfully crossing the country’s boarders, Europeans can enjoy the ones listed below:
- Contract signing and negotiating;
- Scholar visits and exchanges;
- Missionary preaching and ministry;
- Family and personal visits;
- Participation in seminars, meetings, interviews, conferences;
- Undertaking academic and scientific studies;
- Journalistic activities;
- Inspecting and visiting places of interest;
- Travelling and relaxation;
- Internal company activities;
- Translating and providing interpretation as a staff member of a foreign company;
- Voluntary work with a registered non-profit organization up to 30 days;
- Cooperation with tour groups.
Each activity allows EU passport holders to benefit from visiting the UK without registering a visa. These are insufficient for full residence on United Kingdom territory, but Europeans are still able to cross the country's borders freely to achieve specific short-run goals.