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.

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What is settled status?

If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, you and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ if you want to continue living in the UK after June 2021. This means permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Once an EU citizen has been granted setted status, this gives them 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

What are the criteria?

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

Identity

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.

Eligibility

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

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 will not affect an application for settled status.

EU citizens who have less than 5 years continuous residency

Those who have not yet lived in the UK for five years will be granted 'pre-settled status' and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point. From April 2019, this second application will be free of charge.

Pre-settled status will allow EU nationals to stay in the UK for a further 5 years and they will be free to live and work in the UK. Pre-settled status gives EU nationals the same access to public funds and services.

What about citizens from non-EU Member States?

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

The rights of citizens from non-EU Member States such as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are currently being negotiated and more information will be released in the future.

How much does the application cost?

The fee to apply (subject to approval by Parliament) will be:

  • £65 for those aged 16 or over
  • £32.50 for those under 16

It’ll be free to apply for:

  • EU nationals with valid indefinite leave to remain or a valid permanent residence document
  • those applying to move from pre-settled status to settled status
  • children in local authority care

Applying for settled status

It's expected the scheme will open fully by March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.

The application form will be online and there will be support over the phone or in person.

So what happens now?

The Government has made it clear that, 'there is no need for EU citizens, or their family members, living in the UK to do anything now'. The new settlement scheme is currently going under intense review, scrutiny and testing. It will eventually be rolled out in a phased way later this year and will be fully open by 30 March 2019.

EU citizens working in the UK and UK businesses employing EU citizens don’t need to do anything now either as the Government is working closely with businesses and others to see how they will be affected by the changes.

The Home Office is continuing to engage with stakeholders, including employers, local authority representatives and community groups, about the detailed design of the scheme before the Rules are laid before Parliament.

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

Ask a laywer if you need further assistance.

Ask a lawyer

Get advice about Settled status in the UK

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