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Settled status in the UK

EU citizens residing in the UK had until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You can still apply if you believe that you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying before the deadline or if your deadline to apply is after 30 June 2021. Read this guide for more information on the EU Settlement Scheme.

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

Having settled status allows EU citizens to continue being 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

If you did not apply before the deadline, you can still apply for settled status provided that you have reasonable grounds for doing so or if your deadline for applying is after 30 June 2021.

What reasonable grounds are will depend on your specific circumstances and will be reviewed when you make your application. Such reasonable grounds may include:

  • if you’re a child and you did not know you needed to apply

  • if you’re applying for a child and did not know you needed to apply

  • when you were a child, your parent, guardian or local authority did not apply to the scheme

  • you had a medical condition that prevented you from applying

  • you lacked the capacity, physically or mentally to apply

  • you have care or support needs, or those caring for you were unaware of the deadline

  • you were a victim of modern slavery 

  • you’ve been in an abusive or controlling relationship

  • you did not have internet access or access to the relevant documents

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 on such grounds. The evidence 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 and they did not know they needed to apply for you

  • 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

There are a variety of people to whom the deadline of 30 June 2021 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 you join them on/after 1 April 2021

  • applying for your child, who was born or adopted in the UK on/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 must apply before your leave expires.

For more information, see the government’s guidance.

The main requirement for status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme is continuous residence in the UK. The government’s '3 core criteria' must be satisfied in order for settled status to be granted. These criteria are:

  • identity

  • eligibility

  • suitability

This involved EU citizens proving their identity and nationality (eg by providing a valid EU passport or national identity card). The applicant could either provide this evidence through a smartphone app, as part of the digital application process or send the required documents by secure post.

EU applicants also needed to send current or recent facial images to be compared to their identity document. If an EU applicant did not have a valid biometric residence card, they needed to provide their fingerprints (this was not needed for children under the age of 5).

This involved 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 were not absent from the UK for more than 6 months in any total 12 month period. There was no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that the total period of absence did not exceed 6months in any 12 month period.

Some exceptions to this included:

  • pregnancy

  • childbirth

  • serious illness

  • study

  • vocational training or

  • an overseas posting

Any period of absence on compulsory military service was permitted.

Once the person has been continuously resident in the UK for 5 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 involved applicants declaring any criminal convictions which were 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. Eligibility for settled or pre-settled status is generally not affected by convictions of a minor crime. Eligibility, if you have other convictions, 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.

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

If you 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 did not need to apply but could do so if they wished.

You could 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 government guidance on Applying as the family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, Applying if you're the family member of an eligible person of Northern Ireland and Applying for your child.

It was free to apply to the scheme.

The EU Settlement Scheme is closed, however, you can still apply if you have reasonable grounds for applying late or if the deadline of 30 June 2021 did not apply to you.

Which status you get (settled or pre-settled) may depend on when you apply.

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

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