Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU citizens currently living in the UK are required to apply for EU settled status to allow them to continue living and working indefinitely in the UK.
Settled status is also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme’.
The deadline to make a settled status application is in most cases 30 June 2021.
Those without settled status by the deadline will lose their lawful status in the UK.
Do I need to apply for settled status?
To retain existing immigration rights in the UK, EU citizens, EEA citizens Swiss citizens and their non-EEA family members should make a settled status application. Irish citizens do not need to apply.
An EEA citizen is a citizen of a EU country or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.
You will still need to make the application if you:
- hold a UK permanent residence document unless you apply to become a British citizen before 30 June 2021
- were born in the UK but are not a British citizen
- are a EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has a British citizen as a family member
- are a family member of a EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who is not required to make the application themselves
Other individuals may also be able to apply, for example, if you are a primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer, or a qualifying family member has died or you have separated from them.
It is not necessary to apply for settled status if you are a British or Irish citizen.
If you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you do not need to apply for settled status, although it is worth noting that with settled status, you may leave the UK for up to five years without losing your status, rather than the two-year absence restriction on ILR holders.
Family members of EU nationals who wish to apply for settled status must be living in the UK by 31 December 2020. After this date, family members may still be able to move to the UK but should expect to become subject to UK immigration control with various determining factors, such as whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, your nationality and the length of your relationship with that particular family member.
UK settled status requirements & eligibility
The requirements for an applicant to be granted settled status are set out in Appendix EU of the Immigration Rules. To be granted settled status, you must satisfy the eligibility criteria, have completed a valid application and not have had your application refused for suitability reasons.
To satisfy the eligibility criteria, you must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
You must also be able to show ‘continuous residence’, which means that you have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for more than six months in any 12-month period for five consecutive years.
You may still be eligible for pre-settled status if you have not lived in the UK for five consecutive years.
There are several exceptions to the ‘continuous residence’ requirement, including military service or working abroad as a Crown servant. In addition, you may have lived outside of the UK for one period of no more than one year for an ‘important’ reason such as illness, training, study and childbirth.
If you have a UK permanent residence document or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK and apply for settled status, you will not need to prove that you fulfil the continuous residence requirement.
Your application is likely to be refused on suitability grounds if you have a had a deportation order, exclusion order or exclusion decision made against you.
In addition, although having criminal convictions will not necessarily preclude you from obtaining settled status, having convictions for repeated or serious crimes or being deemed a security threat will result in your settled status application being unsuccessful.
What is UK pre settled status?
If you have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, but do not fulfil the five-year continuous residence requirement at the time you make your settled status application, it is likely you will be granted pre-settled status.
If you do not currently fulfil the continuous residence requirement, but would do so by 30 June 2021, it may be advisable for you not to apply until that requirement has been met. This will avoid being granted pre-settled status and then having to re-apply for settled status at a later date.
Is settled status the same as permanent residence?
While EU settled status will safeguard your lawful status permanently in the UK, it is not the same as permanent residence. If you have a permanent residence card, this will need to be transferred to EU settled status. The application is free of charge.
How to apply for settled status
In most cases, you can apply for settled status online via the Home Office website.
You will need the following:
- An email address and a phone number.
- EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will require their valid passport or national identity card.
- Non-EU or non-EEA citizens will need to use one of the following to verify their identity:
- biometric residence card
- biometric residence permit
You will need to apply by post and will not be able to use the online service if applying as:
- the family member of a British citizen you lived with in Switzerland or an EU or EEA country
- the family member of a British citizen who also has EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
- the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, and you’re in education – or you’re the child’s primary carer
Settled status processing time
Settled status applications can take between 5 working days to a month to process.
If applying online through the EU Exit: ID Document Check app, the processing time starts when you submit your application.
For postal submissions, the start date for processing will be the day your ID is received by the Home Office, or if fingerprint biometrics are needed, once they have received your fingerprint scans.
Processing delays usually arise as a result of issues with the application, which makes it important to ensure you have completed the form correctly. Common issues include:
- Where more information is needed for a decision to be made.
- Applying as a child without linking the application to an adult
- Paper applications (for example under the derivative right to reside in the UK) typically take longer to process
- Where the applicant has a relevant criminal record history
- Applications from non-EEA or non-Swiss citizens applying based on a relationship not previously relied on in a past Home Office application
The Home Office will contact you if there are any issues with the application, or if further information is required.
You should not need to contact the Home Office to follow up or check up on processing progress.
While your application is being processed, your UK status will remain unchanged.
Settled status for a child
Children may be eligible for settled status if they are under 21 and are either:
- an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or
- not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but one of their parents is
Children born in the UK who are not British citizens will need to apply under the scheme.
If you’re applying for yourself and your children, you should make your application first. You do not have to wait for your application to be decided before applying for your child. You can apply for your child by linking their application to yours. Do this by selecting the option to apply ‘using your parent’s residence’. You will need to provide proof of your relationship to your child and proof of your child’s identity. If your child started living in the UK after 1 January 2021, you will also need to evidence their residence.
If you do wait for a decision and you are granted settled status, any linked child will then be given the same status as you.
If you are not eligible but your child is, you can apply for them by proving their identity, their UK residence and that they have 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK.
How long does settled status last?
EU settled status is indefinite and does not expire, however it may be lost in certain circumstances:
- If you spend more than 5 years in a row outside the UK, you will lose your settled status.
- Swiss citizens and their family members can spend up to 4 years in a row outside the UK without losing settled status.
- If you have pre-settled status, you can spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status. You will need to maintain your continuous residence if you want to qualify for settled status
Can I apply for British citizenship with settled status?
Settled status offers a path to British citizenship, provided you meet the qualifying criteria for UK naturalisation.
Among the requirements, you will in most cases need to prove that you have lived in the UK for 12 months after being granted full settled status.
If you had permanent residence status which was transferred to settled status, you will be able to include this period of permanent residence towards the 12 month qualifying period.
You do not need a permanent residence card to apply to naturalise with settled status.
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.