EU Settlement Scheme is the process of confirmation of immigration status of EU nationals and their family members in the UK.
You have to make the application by 30 June 2021. Those who fail to apply by the deadline will turn into illegal immigrants.
It is important that from 31 December 2020, residence documents issued under the EEA Regulations will no longer be valid proof of the right of residence. However, they will potentially serve another purpose and be helpful in applications for British citizenship. If you have them, we strongly recommend that you keep them safe!
Irish citizens do not have to apply under the Scheme. However, family members of Irish citizens should apply in the same manner as family members of other EU nationals.
The difference between settled and pre-settled status
Settled status is equivalent to indefinite leave to remain. It is granted to EU nationals and their family members after five years of residence in the UK.
Once settled status is confirmed, it will not lapse even if you leave the country. The maximum length of absence is five years.
Pre-settled status is a grant of limited leave to remain. It is given to EU nationals and their family members who have lived in the UK for less than five years. Pre-settled status is given for five years and can be extended if necessary. You will need to make another application for settled status once you have lived in the UK for five years.
How and where to apply
Applications are made online. You will be asked for details of your identity and residence in the UK. And you will have to declare any criminal offences.
You can apply in the UK or abroad.
Confirmation of settled status when the application was made abroad will be called Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE).
Applications made in the UK will lead to the grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). There isn’t really any difference.
For pre-settled status it will be Limited Leave to Enter or Limited Leave to Remain in the same way.
As part of the process, the Home Office will carry out an automated check using tax and benefit records from HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions to determine how long you’ve lived in the UK. If the checks are inconclusive, applicants can provide additional evidence via an online portal.
How does the document look like
A person’s status will be viewable online. You will receive a letter with a code linking to your online account.
Only family members of EU citizens who do not already have a biometric residence card will be issued a physical document.
The official service standard is 5 working days. The application is likely to take over a month or more if additional information is required.
It’s worth noting that applications from EU citizens and their non-EU national family members will be “linked” when made together. These should be processed quicker than those of family members applying on their own. Family members of Irish citizens may lose out. Or Irish citizens may choose to apply even if they don’t have to.
Do you need a lawyer and when?
The Home Office stresses that applications under the scheme are simple and straightforward. And in most cases they are.
If you don’t like completing online forms or uploading documents and want to save time, you may choose to instruct a representative.
It is particularly helpful to instruct a lawyer if automatic checks are not sufficient or some other aspect of the application requires additional documents or representations.
Should you apply for settled status or a permanent residence document under the EEA Regulations?
While applications under the EU Settlement Scheme are generally simpler, it is important to remember that the Home Office will not backdate settled status in the same way as permanent residence documents.
This means those who are granted settled status will have to wait for at least 12 months before they are eligible for naturalisation (unless married to a British citizen).
Permanent residence document may be the only proof of your child’s birthright to British citizenship.
It may also be the only proof of you exercising EU Rights under the EEA Regulations and thus proof of rights which will be soon forgotten after Brexit.
Our advice is to keep both EEA residence documents and register under the EU Settlement scheme.
Get in touch if you need help!