Making an application

Right to reside in the UK after Brexit: the EU Settlement Scheme (‘EUSS’)

The EU Settlement Scheme has been introduced by the Home Office as a consequence of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and ending free movement (more commonly known as ‘Brexit’). As part of the withdrawal negotiations with the EU, the UK government has agreed to safeguard the rights of EEA nationals (for the purposes of the EU Settlement Scheme, EEA nationals include the citizens of the 28 member states of the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and their family members of any nationality residing in the UK. Applying to EUSS is mandatory for those who wish to remain in the UK after Brexit.

In order to be eligible to apply, the EEA national must have started to reside in the UK by 31 December 2020, and the deadline to apply is 30 June 2021.

If eligible, Settled Status (Indefinite Leave to Remain) or Pre-Settled Status (Limited Leave to Remain) will be granted by the Home Office. Those with Pre-settled status can then apply for Settled status after 5 years of continuous residence (it will not be granted automatically).

EEA nationals and their family members with settled and pre-settled status will have the right to: work in the UK; use the NHS; enrol in education or continue studying; access, if eligible, public funds such as benefits and pensions (although persons with pre-settled status will only be able to do so if they show that they have an EU right to reside, such as being a worker); and travel in and out of the UK. Those with settled status will also be able to apply, if eligible, for British citizenship after one year of having settled status.

Visit our “Know your rights” resource to know more about your rights with Settled or Pre-settled status.

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What is the deadline to apply?

The general deadline for applications under the scheme by those who started to reside in the UK by the end of 2020 will be 30 June 2021.

Close family members joining a resident EEA citizen in the UK after 31 December 2020 (a spouse, civil partner, durable partner, dependent child or grandchild – including of the spouse or civil partner – and dependent parent or grandparent – including of the spouse or civil partner) will have three months from their arrival in which to make an application for status under the EUSS (or until 30 June 2021 if they arrive before 1 April 2021).

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Who can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme?

🟢 EU nationals, nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members (of any nationality) should apply for Settled or Pre-settled status.

🟢 Children must apply. Each child must have their own application.

🟢 You must apply if you have a Permanent Residence document.

🟢 You must apply if you have a Biometric Residence Permit or Card.

🟡 If you hold Indefinite leave to remain, you do not have to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, but you may wish to exchange the indefinite leave to enter or remain for the settled status, in order to benefit from the more generous absence allowance. Indefinite leave to enter or remain only allows you to spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK, whereas the settled status allows up to 5 years.   

🟡 Irish nationals or dual Irish nationals do not have to apply, as they will continue to enjoy a right of residence which is not dependent on EU legislation. However, they may apply if they wish to do so, or if their family members want to apply under the EUSS. 

❌ Dual British nationals cannot apply under the Scheme, as they will already have a right to reside in the UK because of their British nationality.

❌ If you are exempt from immigration control (e.g. because you are a foreign diplomat or a member of consular staff), you will not be able to apply.

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What are the criteria for applying?

The Government has set out the basis on which EEA nationals and their family members will be able to obtain settled and pre-settled status in the Immigration Rules Appendix EU.

Settled Status

EU nationals and their family members will be eligible for Settled Status if:

🔵 They started to reside in the UK before 31 December 2020;

🔵 They have been living in the UK for 5 continuous years by the time of the application;

🔵 At the date of the application, they have not been absent from the UK for more than 5 consecutive years;

🔵 They have not been subject to an exclusion or removal or deportation order;

🔵 They pass the criminal record check; 

Watch “Can I apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if I have a criminal record?” for more information on criminal convictions.

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Pre-settled Status

EU nationals and their family members will be eligible for Pre-settled Status if:

🔵 They started to reside in the UK before 31 December 2020;

🔵 They have been living in the UK for less than 5 years in the UK;

🔵  At the date of the application, they have not been absent from the UK for 6 months or more;

🔵 They have not been subject to an exclusion or removal or deportation order;

🔵 They pass the criminal record check; 

Watch “Can I apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if I have a criminal record?” for more information on criminal convictions.

The Pre-settled status entitles the EEA nationals and their family members to reside in the UK for up to 5 years from the date it is acquired. Anyone with pre-settled status will be able to apply for settled status once they reach 5 years of continuous residence. You must apply to Settled Status before your Pre-settled status expires.

Pre-settled status expires if you are absent from the UK for 2 consecutive years, but if you break your continuous residence you won’t be able to apply for Settled status when your pre-settled status expires.

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Continuous residence

Why does continuous residence matter?

In order to qualify for Settled Status, you must have lived in the UK continuously for 5 years, meaning that you were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 and, during this 5-year time, have not been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in total (in a single period of absence or more than one) in any given 12-month period. This includes where you have previously been granted Pre-settled Status. 

If you hold Pre-settled status and break your continuous residence, you may not be able to apply to Settled Status. 

You may be able to re-apply for Pre-settled before the deadline, provided that certain requirements are met. You should have returned to the UK before 31 December 2020 and you should be able to prove that you have resided for at least a day in the UK within the 6 months preceding the application.

However, the EUSS allows for one single absence up to 12 months for an important reason, including serious illness and study.

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Absences

A single absence from the UK of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months

A single absence or absences of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months in total in any 5-year continuous qualifying period will interrupt that continuous qualifying period unless there was an important reason for the absence:

  • a single period of absence of more than 6 months but which does not exceed 12 months is permitted, where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting; 
  • compulsory military service of any length;
  • time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant;
  • time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces.

Evidence to support an absence as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or serious illness might take the form of a letter or other records from a qualified medical professional.

Absences due to Covid-19 

Read the Government’s full guidance.

Self-isolating will only be considered an important reason for absence where you are, or were, under quarantine conditions, for example:

  •  when ill with coronavirus yourself;
  • sharing a house with someone ill with coronavirus;
  • when required to self-isolate as a result of being, or being in contact with someone who is, in a vulnerable or high-risk category.

In all cases where you have been prevented from travelling due to coronavirus you should provide a supporting letter with your application outlining the details and the dates you were ill or were in quarantine for the above mentioned reasons.

You’re only permitted a single absence exceeding 6 months (but not exceeding 12 months) for an important reason in your 5-year continuous qualifying period. More than one such absence, or an absence from the UK of more than 12 months will always interrupt your continuous qualifying period regardless of the reason for it.

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Historic residence

You may be eligible for Settled status if you have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period in the past and have not left the UK for more than 5 years in a row since then.

Application process

If you are an EU national, or the national of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, or a family member of such a national, you are residing in the UK, and you believe you meet the criteria for applying under the EU Settlement Scheme, you can submit an application online. The application is free.

Every applicant will need: 

  1. An email address;
  2. A phone number;
  3. proof of identity (i.e. a valid passport or national identity card);
  4. relevant proof that they fall into one of the categories above (e.g. permanent residence document);
  5. If relevant, proof of relationship to a family member.

The application is split into two steps – (1) proving your identity and (2) completing your application details.

  1. Proving your identity  

🟢 You need a biometric (electronic) document;

🟢 Download the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ application for Android or iOS

🟢 You will need to use an Android 6.0 device or above, or iPhone 7 or above, to complete this step online. 

⚠️  If you do not have a compatible phone, it is advisable to borrow it from a friend, family member or colleague. Otherwise, you will have to send your identity document to the Home Office by post or attend an ID document scanner location (see below).

Once you start your application, you will be asked to provide your email address and phone number and complete the following steps: 

(A) take a photograph of the passport page with your details and photograph in it;

(B) place the device over the passport in order for it to read the chip embedded in the passport;

(C) scan your face;

and (D) take a photograph of your face.

The app guides you through each step and confirms when the process is complete, at which stage you will proceed with the second step – completing your application details. 

If you are unable to scan your ID documents

Non-biometric or paper documents. You need to post your documents to the Home Office, if you are unable to scan your ID documents, because, for example, you are applying with a paper identity card.

In this case, you have to make sure that:

  • You have made a copy/picture of them;
  • You don’t need them in the short period to travel;
  • You post them with recorded delivery;
  • You include an addressed return envelope;
  • Send the documents to the right address;
  • Write your application number on the envelope.

Biometric passports.  If you have a biometric passport but you are unable to use the App, you can use a scanning location service. The list of locations offering ID document scanning is available here. 

However, some of them may be closed due to Covid and some fee may be payable.

Completing the application details

This step can be done on any device – computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

You can continue on your device after the identity check, or continue via this page by clicking on “continue your application” and login with your passport number. 

If you don’t have a biometric document, or you entered the UK with a EUSS Family Permit or EEA family permit, you will have to start your application online from this page.

Steps:

🟣 You will be asked to confirm your current address in the UK and your national insurance number. These details will be used by the Home Office to verify that you are resident in the UK and whether you have been resident for more than 5 years.

🟣 You will be asked to provide the details of your permanent residence document or indefinite leave to remain. If you do not have a permanent residence document or indefinite leave to remain,

🟣 You will then be asked to complete a criminal convictions declaration. Watch “Can I apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if I have a criminal record?” for more information on criminal convictions.

🟣 The Home Office will carry out automated checks with the HMRC and DWP (based on your address and national insurance number, if you have one) which may provide all the necessary evidence that you have resided in the UK for 5 continuous years.

If these checks do not produce sufficient evidence (e.g. because you were not employed and would therefore not have paid any taxes to HMRC), you will be asked during the application process to provide additional evidence to prove your residence.

🟣 Once you complete all the details and confirm that the information you have supplied is correct, you will see a screen that:  (A) confirms that “you will be considered for settled status” – if you agree with this preliminary decision, you can click on ‘Submit Application’ and your application will be complete;  or (B) states that the records show that “you have been continuously resident for less than 5 years” – if you agree with this preliminary decision, you can click on ‘Submit Application’ and your application will be complete.

If you do not agree with this preliminary decision, you will be able to upload evidence to prove your residence over the 5 years (you will be able to see which years you need to provide evidence for). Once you upload all the relevant evidence, you can click on ‘Finish and submit’ and your application will be complete.

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Evidence of residence

Pre-settled status

If you are applying for Pre-settled status, you will be asked to prove one day of residence in the 6 months preceding the application.

All the documents you submit as evidence of your residence in the UK for the purpose of Pre-settled Status must be dated by 31 December 2020 and have your name on them.

You can upload a piece of evidence that covers short periods of time. These documents count as evidence for one month if they have a single date on them.

Non-exhaustive list of accepted document:

  • bank statement showing payments received or spending in the UK
  • payslip for a UK-based job
  • water, gas or electricity bill showing a UK address
  • landline or mobile telephone, TV or internet bill showing a UK address
  • domestic bill, such as for home repairs, vet’s services or insurance, and evidence of payment
  • card or letter from your GP, hospital or other healthcare professional confirming appointments you have made or attended
  • letter from a government department, public service or charity that show you dealt with them on a particular date or for a particular period (for example Job Centre Plus or Citizens Advice)
  • passport stamp confirming entry at the UK border
  • used travel ticket confirming you entered the UK from another country
  • invoice for work you have done in the UK and evidence of payment

Settled Status

If you are applying for Settled status, you will only have to demonstrate that you did not leave the UK for more than 6 months during the 5 years’ residence, but will not be required to provide evidence of your activity during that 5-year period.

All the documents you submit as evidence of your residence in the UK must be dated and have your name on them.

While you can also use pieces of evidence mentioned above, you may want to consider uploading documents that cover a longer period of time.

Non-exhaustive list of accepted document:

  • annual bank statement or account summary, showing at least 6 months of payments received or spending in the UK
  • employer letter confirming employment and evidence that the employer is genuine, for example, their Companies House number
  • council tax bill
  • letter or certificate from your school, college, university or other accredited educational or training organisation showing the dates you enrolled, attended and completed your course
  • invoice for fees from your school, college, university or other accredited educational or training organisation and evidence of payment
  • document showing a UK address from a student finance body in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland or from the Student Loans Company
  • residential mortgage statement or rental agreement and evidence of payment
  • letter from a registered care home confirming your residence there
  • employer pension contributions
  • annual business account of a self-employed person
  • a P60 for a 12-month period 
  • a P45 showing the length of your previous employment

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Can I apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if I have a criminal record? (Videos)