If you are an EEA/Swiss national, you are in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 (when the Brexit transition period ends), and you wish to stay in the UK, you need to apply to the Settled Status scheme.

The EEA consists of the EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

If you are in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, you can apply to the Settled Status scheme until 30 June 2021. This is known as the “grace period”.

If your family members are with you in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, or are outside of the UK but their relationship with you began before 31 December 2020, they can also apply under the Settled Status scheme. If you are a Swiss national, the timeframes are slightly different. Read the information on the Home Office website here.

If you enter the UK after 11pm on 31 December 2020, the standard immigration process (until Brexit, for non-EEA nationals) will apply to you.

Most people will apply to the EU Settled Status scheme online (using a computer or smartphone). In general, you can just provide your National Insurance number and there is an automated check of tax and some benefits records. These should show whether you have been resident in the UK for the required period (see below). If these checks do not show this, you may be required to submit extra information. See the application website here.

You do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if you are applying to the EU Settled Status scheme.

Pre-Settled Status

If you are in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, apply to the Settled Status scheme before 30 June 2021, and have lived in the UK for less than five years continuously (or cannot prove you have lived for five years or more continuously), you are likely to be granted Pre-Settled Status.

If you are granted Pre-Settled Status, you can stay in the UK for a further 5 years from the date you get the status. You can then apply for Settled Status once you have reached five years’ continuous residence in the UK. You can apply for Settled Status if you Pre-Settled Status even if it’s after the 30 June 2021 deadline. Read more on the Home Office website here.

With Pre-Settled Status, you can work and study in the UK, and can access benefits (if are eligible for them, including being able to establish your right to reside).

“Continuous residence” in the UK is considered to be broken by absence(s) from the UK that are are more than a total of six months in any 12-month period. There are some exceptions to this – continuous residence may not be broken by one period of up to 12 months for if you were outside of the UK for an “important reason”. The Home Office gives the examples of childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting. The exceptions to breaking continuous residence also include compulsory military service of any length, time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant, and time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces. There are also exceptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the Home Office guidance on those here.

Continuous residence is considered to be broken by a prison sentence; and by deportation or similar removal decisions.

When you have Pre-Settled Status, you can travel in and out of the UK. You can be spend up to two years in a row outside the UK without losing your Pre-Settled Status. Remember you will also need to be careful not to break your continuous residence (see above) if you wish to qualify for Settled Status.

Settled Status

If you are in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, apply to the Settled Status scheme before 30 June 2021, and have lived in the UK for five years or more continuously, you should be granted Settled Status.

“Continuous residence” in the UK is considered to be broken by absence(s) from the UK that are are more than a total of six months in any 12-month period. There are some exceptions to this – continuous residence may not be broken by one period of up to 12 months for if you were outside of the UK for an “important reason”. The Home Office gives the examples of childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting. The exceptions to breaking continuous residence also include compulsory military service of any length, time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant, and time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces. There are also exceptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the Home Office guidance on those here.

Continuous residence is considered to be broken by a prison sentence; and by deportation or similar removal decisions.

When you have Settled Status, you can live in the UK as long as you wish (unless that status is revoked). With Settled Status, you can work and study in the UK, and can access benefits.

If you have Settled Status, you can spend up to four years in a row outside the UK without losing your status (or up to four years if you are a Swiss national).

If you are refused

Apply again

If you are refused status, or if you are granted Pre-Settled Status when you think you should have been granted Settled Status, you can apply again until 30 June 2021. You can submit new information or evidence if you want to.

Administrative review

If you do not think applying again will solve the problem (or if you apply again and your application is refused or not granted the right status), you could apply for an administrative review of the Home Office decision. This costs £80. You will get this fee refunded if the administrative review decides there was a caseworker error. If you submit new evidence as part of the review, and the decision is changed because of this, you won’t get the fee refunded.

The Home Office say you should get the result of the administrative review within 28 days. Read more about Settled Status scheme administrative reviews here.

Appeal the decision

Applying again and administrative reviews are generally quicker and easier options than appealing the decision. If these are not available to you or unsuccessful, you can make an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

You can only appeal decisions on applications made after 11pm on 31 January 2020.

See Appeals section

Deportation

If you have Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status in the UK (or are eligible to apply), you could still be at risk of deportation from the UK if you are convicted of committing a criminal offence.

If the criminal offence was committed before the end of 2020, the Home Office will need to consider the pre-Brexit rules on EU nationals. This means they would would have to show that deportation is in the interests of “the public good, public health or public security”. The threshold for showing that deportation is in one or more of these interests was generally higher for EEA nationals than the “public good” arguments for deportation of non-EEA nationals. The threshold is also determined by the length and permanence of your residence in the UK – for example, the threshold is higher for those with the right to permanent residence in the UK.

If the criminal offence was committed after 2020, or you did not have or were ineligible for Pre-Settled Status or Settled Status, the normal rules on deportation will apply to you.

See Removal/Deportation section

Moving on from Settled Status

If you have Settled Status, you may then wish to consider applying for British Citizenship.

To apply for British Citizenship, you will need to have Settled Status for a year unless you are married to a British citizen.

You will also need to pass the “good character” test, and meet the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements. At the time of writing, people who did not have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance when they were required to do so under UK law may be refused on the basis of the good character test. If you want to know more about the general requirements for naturalising as a British Citizen, see this Free Movement ebook.


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