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What is settled status?

Settled status grants an individual permanent residency (ie indefinite leave to remain) in the UK. Once granted, settled status gives EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, or Liechtensteinian citizens the same rights and benefits as they had before Brexit. For example, having settled status allows these citizens to continue being eligible for:

  • public services, such as healthcare and schools

  • public funds and pensions, according to the same rules

  • British citizenship, if the relevant requirements are met

It is free to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Who can get settled status?

The EU Settlement Scheme’s eligibility criteria are based on length of residence, but there are 3 core criteria that must be satisfied for settled status to be granted. These criteria are:

  • identity

  • eligibility, and

  • suitability

Identity

This involves applicants proving their identity and nationality (eg by providing a valid EU passport or national identity card). An applicant can either provide this evidence via a smartphone app (ie as part of the digital application process) or can send the required documents by secure post.

Applicants also needed to send a current or recent image of their face to be compared to their identity document. An applicant who is not from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein must also provide a biometric residence card (BRC) or biometric residence permit (BRP) that was issued in the UK and which has not expired (if they do not have a valid biometric residence card, they need to provide their fingerprints (unless they’re under the age of 5).

If an applicant doesn’t have any of these forms of evidence, they might be able to use other evidence. Contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre for more information.

Eligibility

This involves proving that you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. An applicant is considered to have been continuously living in the UK (or Channel Islands or Isle of Man) for 5 years if they have not been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in any 12-month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that no total period of absence within any 12-month period exceeds 6 months.

Some exceptions to this 6-month rule include certain absences related to:

  • pregnancy or childbirth

  • serious illness

  • study

  • vocational training

  • an overseas work posting, or

  • compulsory military service

Once a person has been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years, they will be eligible for settled status. An applicant can provide evidence of residency through things including employment payslips, National Insurance numbers, utility bills, or a range of other acceptable forms of evidence allowed by the Home Office.

Suitability

Suitability, also referred to as 'criminality', is about the suitability of applicants and whether they have any criminal convictions. This criterion is used to identify serious or persistent criminals or anyone who poses a security threat.

Applicants must declare any criminal convictions, which will be checked against the UK’s crime databases for verification. You don’t have to declare if you: 

  • went to court for something that wasn’t a crime, for example, a debt problem or a family matter

  • received a parking fine

  • received a warning (ie a caution)

  • have a spent conviction 

You do have to declare if you committed a driving offence and got a summons from court. Minor offences are unlikely to affect an application for settled status. If you have other convictions, eligibility will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

What’s the deadline for applying for settled status?

The majority of people had until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You can still apply if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying before the deadline or if certain criteria apply (or if you have pre-settled status). 

What are ‘reasonable grounds’?

What constitutes reasonable grounds depends on your specific circumstances and will be reviewed when you make your application. Reasonable grounds may include:

  • you’re a child (or were before the deadline) and you did not know you needed to apply (eg because your parent, guardian, or a local authority caring for you did not apply to the scheme for you)

  • you had a medical condition that prevented you from applying

  • you lacked the capacity (physically or mentally) to apply

  • you have long-term care or support needs

  • you were a victim of modern slavery 

  • you’ve been in an abusive or controlling relationship or experienced domestic violence

For more information on reasonable grounds, see the government’s guidance.

When applying after the deadline referencing reasonable grounds, you will need to provide evidence of your reasonable grounds. What evidence is appropriate will depend on the specifics of your situation but may include:

  • a letter from a parent, guardian, or local authority, if the application is for a child for whom the letter’s author did not know they needed to apply

  • a letter from a doctor, carer, or other healthcare professional showing your medical grounds or care needs

  • court documents or a letter from an organisation supporting victims of domestic violence, to show you were in an abusive or controlling relationship

Which other criteria can be met for a later deadline to apply?

There are a variety of people to whom the 30 June 2021 deadline does not apply. For example, the deadline does not apply if you are:

  • the family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and who has settled or pre-settled status, and you joined them in the UK on or after 1 April 2021

  • applying for your child, who was born or adopted in the UK on or after 1 April 2021

  • in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain (eg you’re here on a work or study visa) which expires after 30 June 2021

If you have a deadline later than 30 June 2021, the deadline to apply will depend on the specifics of your situation. For example, if you have limited leave to enter or remain in the UK which expires after 30 June 2021, you should apply before your leave expires.

For more information, see the government’s guidance.

What is pre-settled status?

If an applicant does not have 5 years’ continuous residence when they apply, they may be granted pre-settled status. While you have pre-settled status, you’ll have most of the same rights that you would if you had settled status. However, there are tighter restrictions on the amount of time you can spend outside of the UK whilst retaining your status. 

You can apply to change from pre-settled to settled status once you’ve got 5 years’ continuous residence.

If somebody with pre-settled status does not switch to settled status, their pre-settled status will be automatically extended by 2 years before it expires. 

The Home Office is also planning to automate converting eligible pre-settled status holders (ie those that have, since obtained pre-settled status, accrued 5 years’ continuous residence) into settled status holders without these individuals needing to make another application. However, this has not yet been introduced. 

What about citizens from non-EU Member States?

Irish citizens do not need to apply but can do so if they wish.

You may also be eligible for settled status if, for example:

  • you’re a family member of an EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, or Liechtensteinian citizen

  • you’re the family member of a British citizen and you lived outside the UK in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein together

  • you used to have an EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, or Liechtensteinian family member living in the UK

  • you’re the primary carer of a British citizen

  • you’re the child of an EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, or Liechtensteinian citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or you’re such a child’s primary carer

Certain conditions still apply. For example, regarding how long your family member or the person you care for has lived in the UK for, whether they hold settled or pre-settled status, and whether you have or plan to join them in the UK.

For more information, read the government’s guidance on applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.


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