Since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, Freedom of Movement across the continent for Britons came to an end on 31 December 2020.
In line with this change, all EU citizens seeking entry into the country, and those who have lived in the UK prior to this date, will be subjected to new immigration rules which came into effect as of 1 January 2021.
Depending on the applicants’ date of arrival and accumulated ‘continuous residency’, all EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are permitted to apply for Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status as part of the EU Settlement Scheme.
What is Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status?
Generally speaking, in order to apply for Settled Status via the EU Settlement Scheme, you must have moved to or started living in the UK by the end of the Brexit transition period, 31 December 2020.
Settled Status is similar to that of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in that it allows you to live, work, access the NHS and come and go from the UK at your own leisure. Once equipped with this form of permanent residency, you will not need to apply for a UK Visa or meet any other immigration requirements.
How long you have lived in the UK will determine whether you will receive Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status.
To be eligible for Settled Status, you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK as of 31 December 2020 and must have accumulated ‘continuous residency’ in the country for at least 5 years. The five-year rule is vital since those who have lived in the UK for less than this period as of June 2021 will instead receive Pre-Settled Status.
It is important to note that your continuous residency may be called into question if you have been absent from the UK for a lengthy period of time. To be eligible, you must not have spent any longer than 12 months at a time during your 5-year block outside of the UK unless you can prove the absences were beyond your control and/or you have a compelling reason. For instance, the Home Office will consider an exemption for you if you left the UK to give birth, if you or a family member fell ill, if you were studying, or if you joined the military, armed forces or worked as a Crown servant.
If you cannot meet the five years required for continuous residency, you will instead receive Pre-Settled status. After 5 years of continuous residency in the UK under this form of permission, you can then switch onto Settled Status. This process is not automatic, meaning you will need to apply to switch.
Does IAS help with Settled Status applications?
Our immigration lawyers can absolutely help you if you are seeking Settled Status. Although the form is easily accessible online, you may need assistance in building a portfolio of evidence that you will need to submit to the Home Office.
For instance, if you cannot prove your continuous residency in the UK using a National Insurance Card.
Get in touch with our expert team of advisors today on 0333 305 9375 to find out precisely how we can help you to apply.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme is a temporary measure intended to register all resident European citizens and their family members as a result of the post-Brexit immigration rules. It is temporary but has been extended far beyond the set transitional period to grant all residents enough time to apply.
With Settled or Pre-Settled Status, EU citizens can rest assured that they will not be ordered to leave the country – or deported – at a later date and will be able to continue to live and work in the UK seamlessly.
Changes to the scheme in 2023, mean people with pre-settled status via the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have their pre-settled status extended by two years if they have not obtained settled status by the time their pre-settled status was due to expire.
How to Sponsor Family Members Under the EU Settlement Scheme
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can ‘sponsor’ family members to come and live with you in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. This applies to children, spouses, unmarried partners and other immediate family members.
To be eligible, as the ‘sponsor’ of your family member you must have been a resident of the UK as of 31 December 2020 and the relationship with the family member must have already existed/began before this date. In other words, you can’t sponsor loved ones to join you in the UK if the relationship did not exist before January 2021.
In addition, the relationship must still exist when your family member begins to apply.
If your family member originates from the EU, EEA or Switzerland themselves, he/she can apply via the EU Settlement Scheme using their passport or valid identity card.
If your family member is not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, however, he/she must either already hold a relevant UK document such as a residence card, permanent residence card or derivative residence card. Otherwise, he/she will instead need to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme ‘family permit’. With the permit, they can then apply for Settled Status themselves once they have successfully joined you in the UK.
If your family member comes to the UK on or after 1 April 2021, they will be legally required to apply for Settled Status within 3 months of arrival.
Alternatively, if for whatever reason you are unable to bring your loved one to the UK, your family member will be able to apply for a UK Visa instead. For instance, a UK Family Visa or UK Spouse Visa.
Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit
There are no application fees to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.
The permit allows for the holder to leave and enter the UK as many times as they’d like within a 4-6 month period, dependant on the processing time of their pending permit.
Individual applicants have a choice of either:
- Applying for a Family Permit prior to entering the United Kingdom, and once arrived in the UK then apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
- Directly applying for the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK
Documents needed to apply
Prospective applicants will need:
- A valid passport
- A valid identity card if you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- Proof of living situation if you are the spouse, partner, or dependent family member of a British citizen, as well as their valid British passport
Who is eligible to apply?
Only the following people under these circumstances are eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK:
Individuals who are living outside of the UK with a UK citizen, also known as a Surinder Singh application process. You must be either their spouse, partner, child or grandchild under 21, dependent parent or grandparent, or another dependent relative
- Individuals from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who own a valid passport or national identity card with a biometric chip
- Individuals who are not from the above countries but own a UK-issued valid biometric residence card
All other applicants who do not fit into these categories will need to apply for a Family Permit to enter the UK.
To be eligible for a Family permit, individuals must:
- Have had a UK family member with retained right of residence
- If you are related or the family member of a British citizen
- You’re related or the family member of an individual from Northern Ireland, who must also be eligible
How can the Immigration Advice Service help?
Here at the Immigration Advice Service (IAS), our immigration lawyers are OISC-trained and certified to assist you with any of your immigration queries. Whether you need assistance with proving your five years’ continuous residency for the EU Settlement Scheme or advice on how to sponsor a loved one to come and join you, our dedicated team of family immigration lawyers are here to help you. We offer industry-leading Application Support Packages as well as in-depth and untimed Advice Sessions.
Speak to our friendly customer care team today on 0333 305 9375 to hear more about our bespoke services.
Last modified on September 13th, 2023 at 9:05 am
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If you are an Irish Citizen living in Britain, you do not need to apply for Settled Status or interact with the EU Settlement Scheme at all. This is because the UK shares historical ties with Ireland and the two countries have agreed not to impose immigration restrictions on its own citizens living in each other’s jurisdiction.
However, you may prefer to apply for personal reasons, such as passing on British Citizenship to any children you may have in the future in the UK.
If you own a Permanent Residence Document, you must either apply for Settled/Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme or apply for British Citizenship. Whichever way you decide to apply, you must do so before 30 June 2021 as your document will no longer be valid from this date onwards.
If you have children under the age of 21, you will need to apply for their Settled Status separately. You can apply on behalf of your child or they can do so themselves.
Your child can even apply if they are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen – providing you or your spouse/civil partner is.
Your child will need to apply even if they were born in the UK – unless they are registered as a British citizen.
To apply, you will need proof of your relationship with your child. For example, a birth certificate which shows you are their mother/father. You will then need to prove your child’s residency in the UK.
In addition, you will need to prove your child’s identity using a valid ID card such as a passport.
Although the rules are complex, you can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme for Settled Status even if you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national.
To be eligible, you must satisfy one of the following criteria:
- You did have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK but the relationship broke down or he/she has died;
- You are the family member of a British national and you had lived together in an EEA country before (but not the UK);
- You have a family member from Northern Ireland;
- You are a carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen;
- You are the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live in the UK
We understand that with Brexit negotiations well underway, it is important to have security; our team of expert immigration lawyers can help you to get this.
IAS hosts a team of specialist immigration lawyers who can help you find the best route to take as an EEA or Swiss national, inform you of your next steps and guide you through each stage of your application process.
- Ensure that all your documents are sufficient before you make an application
- Ensure that you/your family members are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme
- Complete your application to the highest standard
- Prepare a Letter of Representation to accompany your application. This letter details your case and its merits and recommends that your case is accepted by the Home Office;
- Liaise with the Home Office until a decision regarding your application is reached.
No, you do not need to apply for Settled Status if you already have a form of permanent immigration permission. This includes Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), British Citizenship, Irish Citizenship or ‘Dual Citizenship’. This is because you are essentially already exempt from immigration control.
In addition, foreign diplomats posted in the UK and members of NATO do not need to apply for Settled Status either
There are many benefits to having Settled or Pre-Settled Status in the UK. This includes:
- Working in the UK
- Using the NHS without charges
- Accessing welfare support and benefits such as Universal Credit
- Studying in the UK with access to all levels of education
- Travel in and out of the UK without issues
- Spend up to 5 years in a row outside of the UK without losing Settled Status (or 2 years with Pre-Settled Status or 4 years as a Swiss citizen)
- Automatic British citizenship to any subsequent children born in the UK after achieving Settled Status
If you do not have Settled Status or some other eligible proof to remain in the UK as of 1 July 2021, you may face barriers and hurdles when attempting to participate in UK life. This is because you will not be classed as a legal resident.
Employers and landlords are bound by law to verify the immigration status of their staff or tenants as per the Right to Work and Right to Rent scheme which has existed in the UK since as early as 2016. If you cannot provide proof of your legal status, you may be unsuccessful when you apply for a job or seek a rental agreement.
Without status, you are also vulnerable to exploitation from unscrupulous employers or landlords, who may hire or rent out to you without bypassing the legal checks. In this case, both yourself and your employer/landlord will be liable for breaking the law. However, if you do become a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking, there are further ways you can seek help to remain in the country – and you will not be penalised for speaking to the authorities. This same consideration is given if you were a victim of domestic abuse at the time and were unable to apply for Settled Status as a consequence of the abuse you faced.
If you are unsure, speak to one of our lawyers today in confidence for further assistance and guidance.
The application process for the EU Settlement Scheme is fortunately fast, easy and free.
You will simply need to apply online with the following documents:
- Evidence of your identity – such as a passport or ID card – as well as a digital photograph of yourself
- Evidence of your ‘continuous residence in the UK – such as your National Insurance number
You may need to provide your biometric information if you haven’t already done so.
You can scan the above documents if you are using the online application. If you opt to send via post, you will need to send the documents with your form.
If you have any criminal convictions, you will need to declare them.
Contact us now on 0333 305 9375 to find out how we can help you apply for Settled Status.