EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit Guide

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EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit

The EU Settlement Scheme was created by the UK Government following Brexit and the end of free movement between the UK and the EU. The scheme provides permission to qualifying EU citizens and their family members to live in the UK lawfully after the UK’s departure from the European Union. If you are an eligible family member of an EU citizen with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may want to join your family member in the United Kingdom.

It is important to ensure that you follow the correct steps for your EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit application as this is a route based on European human rights law. Your ability to come to the United Kingdom to accompany or join your family member will depend on this application being approved. This article will outline common questions and concerns from eligible applicants lodging an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit application to come to reunite with an EU citizen family member in the United Kingdom.

 

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme provides a route to settlement for EU, non-EU EEA, and Swiss citizens who seek to in the United Kingdom after Brexit. Citizens of the following countries fall under the scheme:

 

Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia
Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany Greece
Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy
Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Malta Netherlands Norway Poland
Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia
Spain Sweden Switzerland

 
EU citizens must have been in the United Kingdom on or before 31 December 2020 to be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. In accordance with how long they were in the United Kingdom on that day, they were required to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and can be granted one of the three following outcomes:

Settled Status: you have lived in the United Kingdom for at least five years of continuous residence. You are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely unless you leave the country for five consecutive years.

Pre-Settled Status: you have lived in the United Kingdom for less than five years of continuous residence. You are granted Limited Leave to Remain until you have lived in the United Kingdom for a total of five years, at which time you can apply for Settled Status. You cannot leave the United Kingdom for more than two consecutive years whilst you have Pre-Settled Status.

Refusal: you do not meet the required criteria of the EU Settlement Scheme, for a variety of potential reasons. You can appeal this refusal.

The deadline for most individuals to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021. You may be able to lodge an application for the EU Settlement Scheme after 30 June 2021 in some cases if you have evidence to support your case. To be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, your family member must have been living in the United Kingdom by 31 December 2020 and you were their family member by this date. Your family member must currently be in the United Kingdom or plan to be there within six months of the date of your application.

 

What is the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit?

EU citizens and their family members are now primarily subject to UK immigration law and the Family Visa system. However, the right to family life falls under the European human rights framework which the United Kingdom still owes legal obligations. Therefore, the EU Settlement Scheme permits some concessions to the family members of EU citizens as part of the European human rights law.

The EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit allows eligible family members of EU citizens with residence rights in the United Kingdom to accompany or join their family members in the UK for a finite period before switching to a different immigration route. There are various routes for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, depending on your individual and family circumstances. The exact requirements and documents needed will vary depending on the route you choose to use for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.

The EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit makes it easier for family members of EU, non-EU EEA, and Swiss nationals to travel to the United Kingdom now that the country has exited the European Union. You could be refused entry into the UK at an airport or land border if you intend to join your family member and do not have an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.

Once you have arrived in the United Kingdom, you may choose to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in your own right or lodge a Family Visa application through the UK immigration system.

 

Who is eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit?

The following family members may be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit:

  • Spouse of an EU citizen and non-EU EEA citizen
  • Civil partner of an EU citizen and non-EU EEA citizen
  • Unmarried partner of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen
  • Child under 21 years old of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen (including adopted children)
  • Grandchild under 21 years old of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen (including adopted grandchildren)
  • Dependent child over 21 years old of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen (including adopted children)
  • Dependent grandchild over 21 years old of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen (including adopted grandchildren)
  • Dependent parent of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen
  • Dependent grandparent of an EU citizen, non-EU EEA citizen, or Swiss citizen

 

Please note that there are additional routes and alternative rules for family members of the following categories:

Spouses and civil partners of Swiss citizens This differs due to the slightly different legal status of Swiss nationals in the United Kingdom, as compared to EU nationals and non-EU EEA nationals. You will need to meet more specific requirements to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit under this route.

Family members of British citizens born in Northern Ireland This differs due to the status of British-born citizens of Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. You will have slightly fewer requirements to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit under this route.

Family members of British citizens who have been living in Europe since before 01 January 2021 with an eligible British citizen family member (also known as the ‘Surinder Singh’ route) You will need to meet strict requirements to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme under this route.

Family members of EU, non-EU EEA, and Swiss citizens who have a ‘retained right of residence’ in the United Kingdom This means that certain individuals have the right to live and settle in the United Kingdom as the family member of an EU, non-EU EEA, or Swiss national who has left the UK, died, or is no longer your spouse or civil partner. You will need to meet strict requirements to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit under this route.

You will need to determine which category and route are most appropriate for your situation. If you fall under any of these categories, you must have established your relationship before 31 December 2020.

 

How long is my EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit valid?

Your EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit is valid for four months if you arrive in the country after 01 April 2021. Once you arrive in the United Kingdom, you will need to submit your next application before your EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit expires.

 

Is the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit the same as the EEA Family Permit?

Prior to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, the EEA Family Permit existed for non-EU family members of EU nationals. The EEA Family Permit route to live in the United Kingdom with an EU citizen no longer exists since 30 June 2021. Further, EEA Family Permits are no longer valid since this date. If you want to come to the United Kingdom on a route similar to the EEA Family Permit, you will need to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.

 

What does the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit allow?

The EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit allows you to do the following activities:

  • You can accompany or join your EU, non-EU EEA, or Swiss national family member in the United Kingdom
  • You can enter and depart from the United Kingdom as many times as needed
  • You can work in the United Kingdom
  • You can study in the United Kingdom

 

What does the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit prohibit?

The EU Settlement Scheme forbids you from the following activities:

  • You cannot live indefinitely in the United Kingdom
  • You cannot apply for public funds (also known as benefits)

 

How do I apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit?

You must apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit from outside the UK. You must submit your application online. Once you have submitted your online application, you will need to collect copies of all required supporting evidence, such as:

  • Your valid passport or valid national identity card (only for EU and non-EU EEA nationals)
  • Your family member’s valid passport
  • Evidence of your relationship with your family member, such as a birth certificate, civil partnership registration certificate, or marriage certificate
  • Evidence of cohabitation, such as bank statements, payslips, or employer’s letters
  • Evidence of joint finances, such as joint business ventures or tax returns

 

The specific documents you require will depend on the nature of your relationship with an EU, non-EU EEA, or Swiss national in the UK.

You will then arrange to submit your biometric details to a commercial partner in the country of application. At your biometrics appointment, you will need to bring your valid photo ID, appointment confirmation, and any required supporting documentation. You will have a photo taken, provide scans of your fingerprinters, and give a sample signature. Your supporting documentation will be confirmed and all details of your application will be sent to UK Visas and Immigration for a decision to be made.

Once your EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit has been approved, you should travel to the UK and see a border control officer instead of using eGates at an airport. An immigration officer will check your permit and make a note that you have successfully arrived in the United Kingdom.

 

How long does it take for my EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit to process?

The official Home Office estimates note that it could take up to six months for your EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit to process. This could take longer than six months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, straightforward applications are generally processed in one to three months.

 

How long can I submit an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit application?

The deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme passed on 30 June 2021. However, these dates are different for EU Settlement Scheme Family Permits. For most routes of EU Settlement Scheme Family Permits, you can apply at any time and these routes are not expected to close for the foreseeable future.

However, the route for family members of British citizens who have been living in Europe since before 01 January 2021 with an eligible British citizen family member (also known as the ‘Surinder Singh’ route) is currently scheduled to close at 23:00 on 29 March 2022. This is a popular route for international couples due to the international nature of many marriages in the European Union. In order to be eligible for this route, applicants must have achieved all of the following:

  • You have applied for the Surinder Singh route as a family member who has been living in Europe with an eligible British citizen family member by 29 March 2022
  • You have been granted an EU Settlement Scheme Family Member Permit as a family member who has been living in Europe with an eligible British citizen family member by 29 March 2022
  • You have returned to the UK with the qualifying British citizen or you have joined the qualifying British citizen in the UK by 29 March 2022

 
This means that you must have submitted your Surinder Singh route application well in advance of the 29 March 2022 deadline. As EU Settlement Scheme Family Permits are currently being processed within a six-month timeframe, this route is effectively closed. If you have concerns about a pending or future application under the Surinder Singh route or any EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit route, you should contact an immigration solicitor.

 

How much does the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit cost?

The EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit is free for all applicants, regardless of the specific route you choose to follow.

 

What if my application for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit is refused?

If your application for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit is refused, it may be due to failing to meet one of the following criteria:

You did not submit a valid application, including the use of the correct application processes, correct proof of nationality and identity, or providing required biometric details.

You are not eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit due to the nature of your relationship to an EU national, non-EU EEA national, or Swiss national.

You did not meet the suitability criteria, including failing to provide information relevant to any past breaches of immigration law or giving misleading or false information about your background.

Please note that the requirements of human rights-based EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit applications can be complex due to the European human rights law obligations underpinning this area of immigration law.

 

EU settlement scheme family permit FAQs

How long does the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit take to process?

Once you have applied for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, you should receive a decision within six months. However, if you have a straightforward application, you could receive a decision in one to three months.

Can I travel to Europe with EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit?

Your EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit grants you the right to live in the UK. If you are an EU national, you have the right to travel to any country in Europe with a valid EU passport or identification card. If you are a non-EU national, you may require an entry visa to travel to Europe.

Can I bring family members to live with me in the UK after Brexit?

The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. To bring family members to live with you in the UK after Brexit, you will need to apply for either the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit or a UK Family Visa.

Is the EEA Family Permit still valid?

As of 30 June 2021, the EEA Family Permit is no longer valid. If you have been living in the UK on an EEA Family Permit, you should have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit or should apply immediately.

 

Legal disclaimer

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.

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