EU Settlement Scheme
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen (including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.
When you apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be given either one of the following status:
An EEA national and their family member(s) who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years is able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settled status, under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The Home Office is expected to look for reasons to grant applications, with individuals only being refused for reasons of suitability if, for example, they are serious or persistent criminals or pose a security threat to the UK.
An EEA national and their family member(s) who have not lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years will be granted pre-settled status (also known as limited leave to remain).
Again, there are no specific requirements that an applicant needs to meet other than being a resident of the UK. In order to be eligible under the scheme, an EU national must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
Close family members of an EU national wishing to join them in the UK will still be able to do so after this date providing that the EU national lived in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 and the relationship existed prior to this date.
Any family member arriving in the UK after 31 December 2020 will have three months in which to make an application under the scheme.
What is the application process for EU pre-settled or settled status?
The process for applications made under the EU Settlement Scheme is online. An app is available to use for those who have access to a compatible device.
Those making an application through the app will be able to scan their identity documents and will be able to use their National Insurance number as evidence of their residency in the UK, with the Home Office then making relevant checks with the HMRC, DWP, etc.
Those who do not have access to the app or who need to send additional evidence of their residency in the UK, for example if they have not worked here, will be able to send the required documents to the Home Office by post, once the online application form has been submitted.
In either case, the Home Office expects to make a decision on the majority of cases within two weeks.
When can I apply for naturalisation?
Under current legislation, anyone who holds an EU Permanent Residence document is able to stay in the UK indefinitely. They will be eligible to apply for British citizenship after demonstrating that they have been free of immigration restrictions for 12 months unless married to a British citizen in which case they are eligible to apply to naturalise immediately.
The same will apply to those who have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
There is no government fee to make an application under the scheme.
How much does it cost?
Following a decision of 21 January 2019, applications under the EU Settlement Scheme are free. Applicants who applied before 30 March 2019 will have been asked to pay a fee, but this should have been refunded automatically after 30 March 2019.
What are my rights under pre-settled or settled status?
You’ll be able to:
- work in the UK
- use the NHS
- 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
How long until I get a decision?
The Home Office publishes current estimated processing times on their website. Generally speaking, straightforward applications, for example where an applicant already has a document certifying permanent residence, can take as little as a couple of hours.
However, those who are asked to submit additional documents should expect to wait longer.
What happens if there’s a no-deal Brexit?
If you want to bring your family to the UK after 31 October 2019, you’ll need to have pre-settled or settled status.
If they’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can bring them until 29 March 2022.
To apply for pre-settled or settled status, they’ll need to:
prove their relationship with you existed before 31 October 2019
apply before 31 December 2020
if they’re your unmarried partner, apply for a residence card by 31 October 2019
Every EU national and their family will need to make an application before the deadline of 30 June 2021 (or, if the UK leaves without a deal, before 31 December 2020).
Those who have previously been issued a permanent residence document must still apply under the Settlement Scheme. Those who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK may apply, but do not have to. There are, though, advantages in applying for settled status for those who have indefinite leave to remain, including:
- Settled status lapses after an absence from the UK of five years, whilst indefinite leave to remain lapses after an absence of two years.
- The rules to have your family members join you in the UK are more generous for those who have settled status than those who have indefinite leave to remain.
- In the future, many bodies checking individuals’ immigration status, such as banks, landlords, the NHS etc may be more familiar with settled status documents than indefinite leave to remain. In addition, employers, for example, cannot accept an indefinite leave to remain stamp on an expired passport as evidence of right to work; EU nationals who have indefinite leave to remain are likely to have that stamp on an expired passport and will not be able to use that to prove their right to work when taking up a new job in the future.
What are the deadlines for bringing family to live in the UK?
The deadlines depend on whether the UK leaves the EU with an agreement.
If there’s a deal
- To apply for pre-settled or settled status, your family members need to be in the UK by 31 December 2020.
If they aren’t in the UK by that date, they can only join you if both:
- you have pre-settled or settled status
- your relationship began before 31 December 2020
I have started an application for a document certifying permanent residence. Should I still apply or should I use the EU Settlement Scheme?
If you intend to apply for British citizenship, you might as well continue with your permanent residence application.
This is because you will need to show that you acquired permanent residence one year before the date of your application for British citizenship (unless you are the spouse of a British citizen, in which case you will simply need to show that you have permanent residence).
If you apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to wait 12 months after being granted settled status to apply for British citizenship, irrespective of how long you have lived in the UK.
On the other hand, those who do not have a straightforward application for a document certifying permanent residence, for example because they have been students during the five-year qualifying period but did not have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, would be well advised to apply for settled status, where they are no longer asked to show insurance.
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