With the Brexit deadline looming, those originally from outside of Britain, but currently residing in the UK can apply to continue living in the country.
Here is everything you need to know about the EU Settlement Scheme, including the application deadline and what to do if your application is unsuccessful.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme allows EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who are living in the UK to request permission to keep living in the country.
Who should apply?
Gov.uk explains that except in a few cases, you need to apply if you’re living in the UK but you are:
- An EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- Not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but your family member is
The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
You need to apply even if you:
- were born in the UK but are not a British citizen. To check if you’re a British citizen, visit: gov.uk/check-british-citizenship
- have a UK ‘permanent residence document’
- are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who does not need to apply – including if they’re from Ireland
- are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen with a British citizen family member
You may be able to apply if you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen but:
- you used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK (but you’ve separated, or they’ve died)
- you’re the family member of a British citizen and you lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
- you’re the family member of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
- you’re the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- you’re the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer
What happens if my application is successful?
If your application to the EU Settlement Scheme is successful, you will be able to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021.
You will be given either:
- settled status
- pre-settled status
You will not be asked to choose which you’re applying for, as which status you get depends on how long you’ve been living in the UK when you apply. Your rights will be different depending on which status you get.
What is settled status?
You will usually get settled status if you:
- started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal)
- lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’)
For more information about this, visit: gov.uk/settled-status
What is pre-settled status?
If you do not have five years’ continuous residence when you apply to the scheme, then you’ll usually get pre-settled status.
You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal).
You can then apply to change this to settled status once you’ve got five years’ continuous residence, but you must do this before your pre-settled status expires.
You can stay in the UK for a further five years from the date you get pre-settled status.
What are my rights with settled or pre-settled status?
You’ll be able to:
- work in the UK
- use the NHS for free as you do now
- enrol in education or continue studying
- access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
- travel in and out of the UK
Spending time outside the UK
If you have settled status, you can spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing your status.
However, if you’re a Swiss citizen, you and your family members can spend up to four years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status.
If you have pre-settled status, then you can spend up to two years in a row outside the UK without losing your status, but you will need to maintain your continuous residence if you want to qualify for settled status.
What do I need to apply?
To apply, you will need proof of:
- your identity
- your residence in the UK, unless you have a valid permanent residence document, or valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK
Note: You will need to provide this proof again when you apply to change your pre-settled status for settled status.
It is free to apply to the scheme.
When do I need to apply by?
The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.
What happens after I apply and if my application is successful?
If your application is successful, a letter will be emailed to you confirming your settled or pre-settled status.
However you cannot use the letter itself to prove your status.
You will usually be able to apply for citizenship 12 months after you’ve got settled status.
You will be able to view your status or prove it to someone else online – you will not usually get a physical document.
If you’re from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland then you will get a physical document if you do not already have a biometric residence card.
The document you get under the EU Settlement Scheme proves your rights in the UK only.
Gov.uk adds: “You can still prove your rights in the UK until 31 December 2020 with your passport or national identity card (if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen), or with your biometric residence document.”
If your application is unsuccessful, then you may be able to apply for an administrative review of the decision.
You cannot currently appeal the decision, but you can apply again at any time until 30 June 2021.