Settled status in the UK

EU citizens currently residing in the UK may be able to apply for 'settled status' which grants them indefinite leave to remain in the UK, post-Brexit. Read this guide for more information on the new EU Settlement Scheme.

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK, you and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ if you want to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. This means permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Once settled status has been granted, this gives EU, EEA or Swiss citizens the exact same rights and benefits as they had before.

Getting settled status under the new EU Settlement Scheme means EU citizens can continue to live and work in the UK as they do now. EU citizens will continue to be eligible for:

  • public services, such as healthcare and schools
  • public funds and pensions, according to the same rules as now
  • British citizenship, if the requirements are met

The main requirement for status to be granted under the EU Settlement Scheme will be continuous residence in the UK, generally in line with current free movement rules. As part of this, the Government has introduced '3 core criteria' that must be satisfied in order for settled status to be granted. They are:

  • Identity
  • Eligibility
  • Suitability

This simply involves EU citizens having to prove their identity and nationality. This is most likely a valid EU passport or national identity card. The Home Office has said they may accept alternative evidence of identity and nationality where the person applying can't produce the required proof due to 'exceptional circumstances'. What is 'exceptional' has not been clarified.

The applicant can either provide this evidence through a smartphone app, as part of the digital application process, or send the required documents by secure post. The Home Office has stated that they will return any documents to the applicant as soon as possible. EU applicants will also need to send current or recent facial images so that they can be compared to their identity document. The Home Office will not collect fingerprints.

This is the main criteria and it involves proving that you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. An EU citizen is considered to have been continuously living in the UK for 5 years if they have not been absent from the UK for more than six months in any total 12 month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12-month period.

There are some exceptions which include:

  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • serious illness
  • study
  • vocational training or
  • an overseas posting.

Any period of absence on compulsory military service is permitted.

Once the person has been continuously resident in the UK for five years, this means that they will be eligible for settled status. An applicant can provide evidence of residency through employment payslips, national insurance numbers, utility bills or a range of other acceptable forms of evidence that the Home Office will allow.

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

This will involve applicants having to declare any criminal convictions which is then checked against the UK criminality and security database for verification. Minor offences, such as parking fines are unlikely to affect an application for settled status. You’ll still be eligible for settled or pre-settled status if you’ve only been convicted of a minor crime.

You may still get settled or pre-settled status even if you have other convictions. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

If you've been to prison, you usually need 5 years' continuous residence from the day you were released to be considered for settled status.

If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply, you’ll usually get pre-settled status. You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal).

You can then apply to change this to settled status once you’ve got 5 years’ continuous residence.

If you’ll reach 5 years’ continuous residence at some point before 30 December 2020, you can choose to wait to apply until you reach 5 years’ continuous residence. This means that if your application is successful, you’ll get settled status without having to apply for pre-settled status first.

You can stay in the UK for a further 5 years from the date you get pre-settled status.

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

You may be able to apply if:

  • you’re a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • you’re the family member of a British citizen and you lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
  • you’re the family member of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
  • you used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK
  • you’re the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • you’re the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer

For further information read the Gov.uk guidance on what to do If you're not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.

It’s free to apply to the scheme.

The EU Settlement Scheme is open. You can apply now if you meet the criteria.

The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

Which status you get may depend on when you apply.

For further information read Settled status for EU citizens and families and Status of Status of EU citizens.

Ask a lawyer if you need further assistance.