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FAQs: EU settlement scheme

Here our business immigration solicitors answer your most pressing questions on the EU settlement scheme in the UK.

The UK’s departure from the EU will lead to vast changes to the immigration rules. If you are an EU national (or the family member of an EU citizen) who is currently living in the UK then to protect your position as an EU national and your right to live and work in the UK after the end of free movement of EU citizens, you need to apply for either ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme. Those EU nationals who have not completed the residence requirement of five years in the UK will be granted ‘pre-settled status’. The application process for the EU settlement scheme has been in operation since March 2019 and so far about two million applications have been made under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The Status of EU Citizens in the UK – What is the EU settlement scheme and when do I need to apply?

The EU settlement scheme allows EU nationals and their family members to apply for settled status in the UK. Once you have secured settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can prove your right to continue to live and work in the UK after the end of the transitional arrangements and the end of free movement for EU nationals. This means you won't be subject to post Brexit immigration control.

It is recommended that EU nationals and their family members complete their applications for settled status as soon as possible. Although registration under the EU Settlement Scheme is not mandatory, it is in your interests to apply for settled status or pre-settled status so that you retain the benefits of free movement without losing your EU citizenship.

If you do not apply for settled status or pre-settled status there will be no change to your current rights under the EU regulation until the end of the implementation period on 31st December 2020. However, making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme sooner will give you the peace of mind that your future in the UK has been secured.

The last date for applications to the scheme for those who are residing in the UK by 31st January 2020 is the 30 June 2021.

Can I apply for settled status?

You will be eligible for settled status under the scheme if you are an EU national or the family member of an EU national, who prior to the implementation period on 31st December 2020, has been continuously resident in the UK for no less than five years (absences of less than 6 months per year are permissible). If you meet the requirements you will be granted settled status, and the opportunity to remain in the UK indefinitely free of immigration control.

In relation to the absences from the UK in those five years, the number of absences per year is not important. However, importantly 5 years’ continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you have been in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12-month period, except for:

  • one period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting)
  • compulsory military service of any length

What if I cannot meet the requirements? Can I receive pre-settled status?

Where an EU national or their family member who arrived into the UK by 31st December 2020 cannot meet the five-year residence period, they will instead be granted ‘pre-settled status’. This will enable them to reside in the UK until they have completed the necessary five-year residency period, and consequently apply for settled status.

Should I apply through the new EU settlement scheme?

If you are an EU national, or the family member of an EU national and want to remain in the UK free from immigration control after the 30th June 2021, you should apply for settled status. The same applies to persons who are born in the UK but are not a British Citizen or are married to a British Citizen and are from the EU. However, please note that you will not be eligible if you are from outside of the EU and married to a British Citizen. You must apply under the existing immigration rules.

Do I need to apply through the EU settlement scheme or am I exempt?

If you are an Irish Citizen or have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or indefinite leave to enter (ILE) you do not need to apply under the new EU Settlement Scheme. Your rights will be preserved, and you can continue as you are at present.

How can I make an application through the EU settlement scheme?

The application process can only be completed online. There are no options for a face to face application or application by way of post. The steps that are required are as follows:

  • Identification – each person will need to verify their identity and nationality, either through their passport, national identity card or biometric residence permit.
  • Eligibility – each person will need to prove that they are resident in the UK. The person’s employment, tax and benefit records will be automatically checked to establish their length of continuous residence. If there are gaps in the person’s residence however, they will be able to upload additional documents to fill in those gaps.
  • Suitability – criminal record checks will be made for any person over the age of 18. If an applicant is found to have been guilty of serious or persistent criminality either in the UK or overseas, they will have their application refused.

If the applicant is the family member of an EU national, and they are from outside of the EU, they will also need to establish their relationship to the EU national, through a birth certificate, marriage certificate etc. The additional evidence will need to be scanned and uploaded as part of the application process.

How much does the application for settled status cost?

The Home Office does not charge an application fee for settled status or pre-settled status applications.  

What rights do I have with settled status or pre-settled status?

If you are granted either settled status or pre-settled status, you will have the same rights as you do now. You will continue to have the same right to seek employment, study, access healthcare, pension and any other benefits you are entitled to.

Can my family members join me under the settled status scheme?

Under the EU Settlement Scheme, existing close family members who are living overseas can join you in the UK, provided that your relationship with one another existed on or before 31st December 2020.

The definition of close family member includes a spouse, civil partner, durable partner, as well as a dependent child, grandchild, parent or grandparent. This includes the child, grandchild, parent or grandparent of your spouse or civil partner.

What if I am aged under 21?

Applicants under the age of 21 can apply for settled or pre-settled status, as long as they are either an EU citizen, or their parent, spouse or civil partner is an EU citizen.  Furthermore, you can apply either:

  • Based on the status your parent is eligible for (i.e. settled or pre-settles status), or
  • Based on how long you have resided in the UK.

If you do apply on the basis of your parent’s status, you will need to prove your relationship to them through your birth certificate. If your application is successful you will get the same status as your parent.

What if I already hold permanent residence status or indefinite leave to remain?

If you presently hold permanent residence status in the UK, you are eligible to transfer to settled status. The Home Office do not charge an application fee to convert your status from permeant residence to settled status. However, if you want to become a British citizen by making a British naturalisation application it may be in your interests to apply for British citizenship now rather than convert your status to settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you hold indefinite leave to remain (ILR), there is no requirement to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. However, it is worth pointing out that if you do hold ILR, your status can be lost if you live outside of the UK for two consecutive years whereas settled status allows you to reside outside of the UK for five years consecutively without the loss of your status.

If you plan to live overseas or you know that you want to apply for British citizenship it is best to get legal advice on the best option for you so that you don’t lose your status by living overseas and that your British citizenship application is not delayed by your choice of settled status in place of your permanent residence status.

How can I view or prove my status?

If your settled status application is successful, the Home Office will email you a link to an online service that you can use to view and prove your status. You will only get a physical document if you are from outside of the EU and do not already have a biometric residence permit.

What happens after I have applied for settled status?

If your application is successful, you will be granted either settled status or pre-settled status, depending upon your length of residence in the UK. You will be able to prove your status under the EU Settlement Scheme through an online link.

What if my settled status application is unsuccessful?

If your application is unsuccessful you may be able to apply for the decision to be reviewed in a process called ‘administrative review’ or alternatively if your application was made after the 31 January 2020 you may have a right of appeal by virtue of The Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.


What next?

If your business needs legal advice on immigration for EU nationals who want to apply for settled status or pre-settled status in the UK, our business immigration solicitors can help. Call us on 0800 689 1700, email us at enquiries@hjsolicitors.co.uk, or fill out the form below with your enquiry.

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