How to apply for student finance as a Migrant Worker

You may have heard the term ‘migrant worker’, but what does it actually mean?

Generally speaking if you are an EU national you can only be assessed for a Maintenance Loan and all supplementary grants as well as a Tuition Fee Loan (in the same way as UK students) if you have lived in the UK for the whole of the 5 years prior to the start of your course – so for example if your course started in September 2019 you need to have lived in the UK for the whole of the period from 1st September 2014 until 1st September 2019.

However, there is a way you can qualify for help towards your living costs even if you have not lived in the UK for 5 years before your course – this is by applying for student funding as an EEA migrant worker (or as a relevant family member – e.g. child – of an EEA migrant worker).

What are the rules?

The rules are complex, but you may be able to apply for maximum loans from Student Finance England/Wales/Northern Ireland or Scotland if:

  • You are a non-UK EEA national, or a Swiss national, and resident in the UK as a worker; or the relevant family member of such a worker; and
  • You are ordinarily resident in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course (unless you are an EEA/Swiss frontier worker or relevant family member of a frontier worker); and
  • You have been ordinarily resident in the UK or elsewhere in the EEA and/or Switzerland for three years before the first day of the first academic year of the course.

Is there a legal definition?

The definition of ‘worker’ is not clearly explained in legal terms, but generally speaking to be classed as a ‘worker’ you need to be working at least 10 hours a week in a job which isn’t connected to your university or being a student (so not the SU shop or Student Ambassador) and you must continue to work during term time and vacations.

What if I stop working?

It is possible to lose your migrant worker status part-way through your course – for example if you stop working or you take a significant break in working (perhaps if you go back to your home country for an extended period over the summer vacation)

We encourage any student assessed as migrant worker to come and talk to to Student Advice if they are thinking about changing jobs or taking a break.

I wasn’t working locally when I started the course, but I am now – does this change anything?

Yes! It is possible to gain migrant worker status part-way through the course. If you gain EEA migrant worker status during the year, you will get the Maintenance Loan for living costs from the term after you started employment, not from the date employment began.

How do I apply for this extra funding?  

To apply for funding as a migrant worker you need to complete the same funding forms as UK students. We strongly suggest you come and talk to Student Advice as we can make sure you fill out the right forms and include the correct evidence.

As well as the form(s) you will need to send in evidence of your employment – for example:

  • Your contract of employment
  • A letter from your employer confirming your working hours
  • The last 3 months’ payslips
  • A P60 if available

If you are sending any evidence to Student Finance, please make a note of your Customer Reference Number on every document you are sending and try to post the items Recorded Delivery with a receipt. The postal address is:

EEA Migrant Worker Team

Do I need to do anything else?

Student Finance will ask you to send proof of your wages each term so be prepared. We advise you to keep all of your payslips and regularly check your online account and emails to see if you are being asked to provide evidence.

You have to apply for funding every year and you will need to prove that you are still a worker, so make sure you always keep you documents safe.

If your course has the option of a placement year and this is something you are interested in, please come and talk to us about how this affects your funding.

Will Student Finance ask about my parents’ income even if they live in another country?

If you are under 25 and you have not financially supported yourself for 3 years before your course started, you will need to send proof of your parents’ income. This is the same for UK students. Please come and talk to Student Advice about the information you need to send.


Does this affect my Tuition Fee Loan or University of Brighton Bursary?

You will still be entitled to the funding you have already received, but your records will be transferred from one place to another so you will have to fill out new forms.

What about Brexit? Does this change anything?

Unfortunately, whilst the government has confirmed that funding arrangements for existing EU students and those starting their courses in September 2020 will continue to remain as they currently exist, we don’t know if the rules about migrant workers will stay the same. If you do think you might qualify as a migrant worker then please do contact us, and we can let you know what you need to do to and update you on any legal changes as soon as we know.

Best wishes

Student Advice Service


Helen is the Student Advice Service Manager within Student Services and is based in Tithe Barn on the Moulsecoomb campus

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Posted in General advice and information, Money, Grants and Bursaries

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