Under the EU settled status scheme, EEA citizens currently in the UK are required to register with the Home Office to confirm their continued right to live, work and remain in the UK after 30 June 2021.
UK settled status will allow you to live and work in the UK indefinitely. You will also be able to apply for British citizenship where you meet the requirements, and any children born in the UK while you are living here will automatically be classed as British citizens.
In this guide, we look at what UK settled status means for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and answer some FAQs in relation to making a settled status application, including who can apply, how to apply and the meaning of pre-settled status.
What is EU settled status?
With EU settled status, nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, together with their eligible family members, will be permitted to carry in living, working and studying in the UK post-Brexit indefinitely.
The EEA includes countries in the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The grant of settled status means you will maintain your existing UK immigration rights and you will also continue to be eligible for:
- public services, such as healthcare and schools
- public funds and pensions
- British citizenship, where you meet the requirements
Failure to register for the scheme risks individuals becoming illegal and undocumented in Britain.
Where successful, and having been granted Home Office settled status under the scheme, you will be allowed to continue living, working and studying in the UK indefinitely and your rights will not be impacted by the introduction of the new, post-EU free movement UK immigration rules.
Who should apply for EU settled status?
In most cases you will be eligible to apply for EU settled status in the UK if you are a national of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or you are a family member of someone from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
You will need to apply for settled status even if:
- You were born in the UK but are not a British citizen
- You have a UK permanent residence document
- You are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who does not need to apply, including if they are from Ireland
- You are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen with a British citizen family member
You do not, however, need to apply under the EU settlement scheme if you have UK indefinite leave to enter or remain, or if you have British or Irish citizenship, including dual citizenship.
EU settled status for non-EU relatives in the UK
Non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizens may also be able to apply if one of the following applies:
- The non-EU individual used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK, but they have died or the relationship has broken down
- The non-EU individual is the family member of a British citizen and they lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
- The non-EU individual is the family member of a British citizen who who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
- The non-EU individual is the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- The non-EU individual is the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or is the child’s primary carer
How to apply for Home Office settled status
Settled status applications are made online using through the Home Office website or via the dedicated app.
If you fall into any one of the following categories, you would usually not be permitted to use the online service and will instead need to apply by post:
- Family members of British citizens who lived with their British relative in Switzerland or an EU or EEA country that is not the UK
- Family members of British citizens who also have EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as EU, EEA or Swiss citizens before getting British citizenship
- Primary carers of British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizens
- Children (in education) of EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who used to live and work in the UK, or the children’s primary carers
The final deadline to apply is 30 June 2021.
What documents do I need to apply to the Home Office for settled status?
When making an application for Home Office settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, whether online or by post, you will need to provide various documents in support, including the following:
- Proof of your identity, for example, a passport or national identity card. If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can use a biometric residence card or biometric residence permit.
- Proof of your residence in the UK, including proof of continuous residence in the event that you have lived in the UK for more than 5 years, although residence checks using your national insurance number may suffice here.
- If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, proof of your relationship to your family member from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
What is pre settled status?
If you have lived in the UK for 5 years or more on a continuous basis, you should be granted full settled status. If, however, you have lived in the UK for less than 5 years, or if the Home Office is not satisfied that you have proven your 5 years continuous residence through your application, you will usually be granted pre-settled status.
To be eligible for pre-settled status you must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
In the event that you are granted pre-settled status, you will be allowed to remain in the UK for 5 years, after which you can apply for settled status.
For those of you that you will acquire 5 years’ continuous residence at any point prior to 30 December 2020, you may want to wait to apply until the necessary number of years have been accrued, thereby making you immediately eligible for Home Office settled status.
Apply for settled status for a child
You can apply for EU settled status for your child if they are under 21 and either they are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or you or your spouse/civil partner is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.
If you have already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme you should be able to link your child’s application to yours, using the application number you got when you applied for yourself. You will need to provide proof of your relationship to your child when you apply.
If your own application is successful, your child should be granted the same status as you.
If you have not already applied yourself, you may want to make your own application before you apply for your child. In this way you will not need to submit proof of their residence in the UK with their application. That said, the Home Office may still ask you for proof of residence before making any decision.
If you are not eligible for Home Office settled status under the scheme but your child is, for example, because they live in the UK and you do not, you can still apply for them. In these circumstances you will need to submit proof of their UK residence.
Relatives applying for settled status
Non-EU/EEA family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or before 31 December 2025 for family members of Swiss citizens) are eligible to apply for Home Office settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme once they are in the UK.
This includes the spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.
It also includes the following relatives of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or their spouse or civil partner:
- child, grandchild or great-grandchild under 21 years old
- dependent child over the age of 21
- dependent parent, grandparent or great-grandparent
- dependent relative
You may still be able to bring close family members after 31 December 2020. However, this will depend on where you are from, when your relationship with your family member started and whether it still exists, and whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal.
Relatives who do not qualify for EU settled status may be able to gain permission under a different immigration route, such as a family visa. Take advice to understand your options.
How much is settled status?
The settlement scheme is free of charge to apply.
How long does settled status last?
Settled status is indefinite and does not need to be renewed or extended once granted.
Pre-settled status, however, lasts five years, at which point the individual must apply for full settled status to safeguard their rights.
Note also that settled status can be lost after 5 years absence from the UK, while pre-settled status can be lost after 2 years outside the UK.
Can I apply for British citizenship with settled status?
If your application under the EU settlement scheme is successful, you will usually be able to apply for British citizenship twelve months after you have been granted settled status.
However, you will still need to satisfy the relevant eligibility requirements for naturalisation including, for example, that you are of sound mind and good character, and that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK and that you meet the residency requirement.
How do you check your settled status?
If your application for settled status is successful, you will receive a letter from the Home Office confirming your settled or pre-settled status. This letter will include a link to an online service that can be used to view and prove your status.
The letter itself cannot be used to prove your status, and you will not get a physical document unless you are from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or you do not already have a biometric residence card.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.