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Settled Status vs Permanent Residency

Settled status and permanent residency in the United Kingdom have many crossovers, but there are some key differences in their immigration and legal status. The EU settlement scheme is no longer open to new applicants except for a specific group of EEA and EU citizens.

Understanding your rights to settled status vs permanent residency in the UK is important, and we are here to help. Call IAS today on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.


What is the Difference Between Settled Status and Permanent Residence?

Settled status and permanent residency in the UK mean two different things.

Settled status is typically used to refer to the residence permit given to EU nationals who used the EU settlement scheme to settle in the UK, while permanent residency is used to refer to Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Through both means, holders can live permanently in the UK and apply for British citizenship after 12 months. However, there are differences in the conditions attached to both statuses. We have discussed the differences below as well as the benefits of each.

If you want to settle in the UK, we can help you. Get in touch with us today at 0333 305 9375 for immediate help.

Settled Status

The EU settlement scheme is only available to nationals from the EU, EEA or Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria to apply for settled status, and is only available to those who were living in the UK before December 31 2020.

EU settled status is a legal status that allows you to work, live and study in the UK. Having settled status means you can travel in and out of the UK without restrictive immigration rules, allows you access public funds and to the NHS, and allows you to apply for British citizenship.

Since Brexit, the EU settlement scheme no longer exists as a way for new applicants to gain settled status in the UK unless you meet the following criteria:

  • You are from the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein and you or a family member were living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • You have ‘reasonable grounds’ for applying later than the June 30 2021 deadline, usually pertaining to compassionate circumstances such as illness or domestic abuse
  • You already have EU pre-settled status and are applying for settled status
  • You are joining a family member who lived in the UK prior to 31 December 2020, and you had the family relationship at that time.

Permanent Residence

Permanent residence, also known as indefinite leave to remain, is open to anyone who wants to remain indefinitely in the UK, so long as they meet the eligibility criteria. Therefore it is open to EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA nationals. Indefinite leave to remain allows you to stay in the UK permanently, and offers the same rights as the EU settlement scheme.

Gaining permanent residence in the UK is done through applying for indefinite leave to remain. ILR status allows you to live, work and study in the UK indefinitely, without restrictive immigration rules. Indefinite leave gives you permanent residence status and a permanent residence card.

ILR status also allows you to apply for UK citizenship after 12 months of gaining permanent residence.

In order to obtain indefinite leave, most applicants must have worked and lived in the UK for at least five years, though some visas will allow you to apply after only three years. You should not have been absent from the UK for longer than 450 days during that time.

Once granted indefinite leave, you are allowed to remain in the UK, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands for as long as you wish. The only restriction is that your leave will be retracted if you leave the UK and don’t return after more than two years.

What is Pre-settled Status?

Pre-settled status, also known as limited leave, was part of the EU settlement scheme that offered limited leave status to eligible EU and EEA citizens who applied for settlement before 30 June 2021, but had not been living in the UK permanently for the five year qualifying period. Applicants who had pre-settled status must have had lawful residence in the United Kingdom before 31 December 2020. It is no longer possible to apply for limited leave if they started living in the UK later than that.

If you were granted pre-settlement, you are allowed to live in the UK for up to five years. If you want to apply for full settlement, you must do so before your current limited leave status expires.

If your pre-settled status is due to expire before you complete the five years of residence in the UK to gain full settled status, you can apply to extend your current pre-settled status.

Current immigration laws and applications for the settlement scheme are complicated, and not everyone will qualify, even if they are an EEA or EU citizen. It could be that it is better for you to apply via a different route for UK settlement.

That’s why Immigration Advice Services is here. We have a team of expert immigration lawyers who can support you with your application process so that you can make the UK your permanent home. Get in touch today to discuss our Application Package by contacting us online or calling us on 0333 305 9375.

Should I Apply Late for EU Settlement Status or for ILR?

If you qualify for a late application for EU settlement, then the EU route is the best option for you.

The benefits of applying through the EU scheme to gain settled status are:

  • The application is free
  • The application process is simpler and quicker than applying for ILR
  • The application doesn’t require you to have lived in the UK for up to five years, and will offer you pre-settled status until you meet the five year mark for settled status
  • You can leave the UK for longer without losing your residency status – you will only lose your status after five years outside the UK, rather than two
  • You still have the same rights as you would get applying for ILR.

What Are My Rights Under the EU Settlement Scheme?

You are allowed to:

  • Work in any UK business, profession or employment, including self-employment
  • Study in the UK
  • Vote in the UK
  • Access the NHS without cost
  • Access benefits and other public services
  • Travel to and from the UK without restriction.

Contact IAS today to help you understand the key differences between Settled Status and Permanent Residency and which one is best suited for your circumstances.

Long Absences Due to COVID

With the heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic on health, travel and families, the UK government has factored in exemptions from the usual terms for gaining settled status.

Your ‘continuous qualifying period’ of living in the UK will not be considered broken if you were away for up to 12 months due to pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, being in quarantine, travel disruption, study, training, or an overseas posting.

‘Illness’ includes COVID related illness, or needing to care for a family member impacted by illness during the time you were abroad.

There are lots of ways you can prove your absence was due to COVID or another valid reason listed above by submitting evidence such as:

  • Doctor’s letters
  • Flight bookings and cancellations
  • Letters from your educational institution or job
  • A letter written by you explaining in detail your decision to remain outside of the UK during the coronavirus epidemic, for example because
    • There were fewer restrictions in the country you were living in
    • You preferred to run your business from overseas during that time
    • You wanted to be with friends and family members during that period.

How IAS Can Help

We understand how complicated it is to take in all the information around settling in the UK as an EU or EEA national since the overhaul in regulations due to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. The last few years have been very complicated for many, which impacts your ability to make sense of your eligibility for immigration statuses in the UK, or which visa you should apply for.

That’s why IAS exists. Our team are experts and fully up-to-date with immigration law, who with our Advice Package can help you with your next steps and support you with your application with our Application Package. Contact us today online or call 0333 305 9375.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Your application for pre-settled status is the same as the application for settled status. You can apply with IAS – call us today on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.

The EU Settled Status Scheme application is free. However, be mindful that other costs may be involved if the Home Office require further information.

Permanent residence, or ILR, costs £2,404 per application. Please note this is subject to change.

If you have applied for the EU settlement scheme or indefinite leave to remain but have had your application refused, it is most often due to immigration control not receiving the correct information or because you have applied after the deadline. IAS can help you – book our Appeal Package today.

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