What does Brexit mean for (and not only) Hungarians? Let’s talk about practicalities!

The previous post about Hungary described that in the last couple of years the United Kingdom has become one of the most attractive destinations in Western Europe for Hungarians migrants. The number of Hungarians permanently residing in the UK was around 100,000 in 2020 (however, presumably there is a significant group of Hungarian citizens, who do not appear in the statistics: they work seasonally and circulate between Hungary and the UK).

Brexit happened, that is a fact. But how does it will affect the everyday life and employment opportunities of Hungarians living in the UK? If we take into account the opinions of the nearly 30 interviewees we have asked in 2020, then we could say: in general, by no means. In most cases, we heard responses such as: “It doesn’t affect my future life here at all” or “It will only be difficult for those who come to England after Brexit. I’m safe”. Under to the rules in force today, Hungarians (and other EU citizens) who had been living in the UK before the Brexit became official (31 January 2020) or during the subsequent transitional period (between January and the end of December 2020) can easily arrange the necessary paperwork which allows them to stay in the UK, without any restrictions. First, they must apply for settled status or pre-settled status by 30 June 2021 (former applies for those who has been living for more than 5 years in the UK and the latter for those who has been living less than five years in the country). According to our respondents, this process is not particularly complicated; it can be done simply and quickly, on line or by using an application. In case any problem arose, they could rely on the efficient help of officers, administrators.

What if I wish to work in the UK after the Brexit?

It seems that staying and working in the UK should not be a problem for our compatriots (or for other EU citizens) who has arrived before the Brexit, including unskilled workers. However, the new regulations in force from 2021 brought about serious limitations, which concern potential migrants, so let’s take a look at the main changes.

As Paul Fox, the UK Ambassador to Hungary mentioned, after the Brexit a new point-based system will be applied to assess employment applications for EU citizens, including Hungarians. He pointed out, that “after Brexit, we had to restrict free employment in some way. And this applies not only to Hungarians, but to all EU citizens equally. It is a system that ensures equal treatment. It is different from the previous system, when anyone was free to take a job.”[1] In the new point-based system the most important thing is to have an actual job offer (20 points), but equally crucial the degree of education of the applicant (20 points). In addition, there is a strong emphasis on whether someone speaks English (10 points). The other points can be obtained with the salary levels corresponding to the promised position or with more marketable diplomas (e.g. PhD). The potential employee has to score seventy points to get a work permit. “With the point-based system we want to find the best workforce and attract them to our country, which is why qualification is very important in valuation”, told Fox.

The new system allows potential migrants to apply for various visas. The “top” visa category is the Global Talent visa, which allows highly skilled workers to enter the UK without a job offer, suggesting that the legislature is confident that they will find a job anyway. A Skilled Worker visa requires at least B1 level language exam and a job offer corresponding to the qualification. In addition there is also the category of skilled labor: the Healthcare visa, which is treated separately due to labor shortages in the UK in health and social sectors. In sum, the above mentioned types of visa are available to skilled workers, who have job offer, and speak English.[2]

What if I wish to study in the UK after the Brexit?

First of all, tuition fees for Hungarian (and other non-UK) citizens will increase drastically from the 2021/22 school year. In addition, it will no longer be possible to apply for a student loan. Who decides to study in the UK must apply for a student visa, which means an additional 812 £ (about 870 €) extra cost. Furthermore, no agreement has been reached on the mutual acceptance of higher education diplomas. In practice it means that diplomas of EU citizens who have already worked or studied in England before 1 January 2021 will continue to be automatically accepted. However, those arriving after 1st January 2021 are required to have diplomas recognized by the appointed UK authority, which is a significant change. In addition, the United Kingdom will not participate in the Erasmus program in the future (they found it too expensive). As a result, the number of foreign (and thus Hungarian) students in the country may decrease. [3]

In the further phase of the research our task is to find out what changes (if any) Brexit brought to Hungarians living in the UK.

[1] Author’s translation. Source:



3 replies on “What does Brexit mean for (and not only) Hungarians? Let’s talk about practicalities!”

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