EU Settled Status

EU Settlement Scheme


What is EU settlement scheme

EU Settlement scheme is a set of rules related to  EEA nationals who continue to reside in the UK after 31 December 2020. The purpose of the scheme is to protect the rights of EEA nationals who were resident in the UK before Brexit.

EU Settlement Scheme is incorporated into the Immigration Rules under Appendix EU. 

The scheme grants EU nationals and their eligible family members two types of permissions – pre-settled status (temporary permission) and settled status (indefinite leave to remain).  

EU settlement scheme also contains provisions for family members of British citizens (eligible British citizens) who were resident in the EU with their families and returned to the UK before 29 March 2022.

What is settled status

Settled status, or indefinite leave to remain granted under EU Settlement Scheme, is permission to live in the UK permanently. You have to have settled status before you can apply for British citizenship.

EEA nationals and their family members are entitled to apply for a settled status after five years of continuous residence. You don’t get settled status automatically – you have to make an application online.

Settled status allows you to work and study in the UK, set up a business and also sponsor workers from outside the UK. You can to use the NHS and public funds in the same way as British citizens resident in the UK.

Children born to you in the UK after grant of settled status are British citizens by birth and you may apply for their British passport even if you are not a British citizen.

Children born to you outside the UK will not acquire British citizenship by birth but will be entitled to join you in the UK and will also be entitled to a settled status.

Unlike indefinite leave to remain granted under other parts of the Immigration Rules, settled status is not lost after 2 years of absence from the UK. The period you can spend outside the UK and maintain your settled status in the UK is 5 years.

If you are resident outside the UK after settled status is granted, you only need to visit the UK once in a while to maintain your settled status. Once in a while means literally at least once in every 5 years and the duration of the visit is not relevant. 

Pre-settled status - duration

Pre-settled status is permission to live and work in the UK granted on a temporary basis with a view to eventually upgrading to a settled status.

If you were resident in the UK for less than five years on 31 December 2020 you were expected to make an application for a pre-settled status before 30 June 2021. The scheme is now closed for new applicants, except for family members of EEA nationals who are eligible to join their sponsors in the UK with a settled or pre-settled status.

Pre-settled status was initially granted for five years.

From September 2023 automatic extension for an extra two years was afforded to those who failed to apply for a settled status before the expiry of pre-settled status. 

In May 2024 the government announced that pre-settled status would be automatically extended for another 5 years

When does one qualify for a settled status

You may qualify for a settled status under the EU settlement scheme once you have been resident in the UK continuously for five years with permission granted under Appendix EU including any period leading to grant of this permission.

Continuously means having not left the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period.

The time starts counting from when you initially arrived in the UK. But if you left for more than six months, or your cumulative absences reached more than 180 days in any 12 months, your time starts counting afresh.

Both the time spent in the UK before Brexit and after Brexit with pre-settled status counts towards the qualifying period for settled status.

If you are out of the UK for two years or more, pre-settled status is lost and cannot be acquired afresh.

How to apply for a settled status

Application for a settled status is made online.

You will need to log-in into your account and confirm your identity.

When completing the form you will be asked to list your absences over the five-year period you want to rely on.

Your absences during this period shouldn’t exceed 6 months any 12-month period.

Excessive absences with a pre-settled status

In some circumstances an absence of up to 12 months would not break the continuity of residence. If your residence period started before 31 December 2020, but you stayed out of the country due to COVID, for example caring for a family member affected by COVID or having been advised by your employer not to return to the UK and continue working remotely, your absence of up to 12 months will count as a period of continuous residence.

Absence beyond 12 months will not be credited toward a period of continuous residence, but where you can demonstrate that the absence was for a serious reason you may be able to extend your pre-settled status to reach the qualifying five year period for indefinite leave to remain. According to the current guidance, the qualifying period in this case will be assessed cumulatively – up to the date when your absence stopped being credited toward continuous residence and from the date you returned to the UK.

In case of more than one absence for a serious reason, the guidance allows a second period of absence of more than six months (but not exceeding 12 months) where this absence was for an important reason and if one of the two prolonged absences was for a reason related to COVID. The first six months of the second period of absence will count toward continuous residence. After that he qualifying period will be paused but not interrupted.

If you don’t qualify for a settled status at the end of the five-year period, your pre-settled status will be automatically extended for another five years.

What happens if an application under the EU Settlement Scheme is refused

If your application for a settled status was wrongly refused, you can appeal the refusal or apply for an administrative review.

If your application has been refused because the decision-maker incorrectly applied the Immigration Rules or a published policy or if you have new evidence that would better prove your case, administrative review may be your remedy.

An application for administrative review can be made within 28 days of receipt of the decision.

It costs £80 which are refunded to you if administrative review confirms that the decision-maker made a mistake in refusing your application. If the original decision is overturned because of the new information you have provided with the application for administrative review, you will not get a refund.

In addition, you may have the right to appeal to an immigration tribunal.  Unless you are applying for an administrative review, you have 14 days to file an appeal if you are in the UK or 28 days if you are outside the UK.

You can appeal and apply for administrative review at the same time. Alternatively, you can wait for an outcome of the administrative review application and if you are not happy with it, appeal the original decision in an immigration tribunal.

Settled Status UK FAQs

Settled status is permission to remain in the UK indefinitely which is granted after Brexit to EU nationals.

You may have had permanent residence in the past but you still have to apply for settled status as this is a mandatory requirement, unless you naturalised as a British citizen.

You will lose settled status if you leave the UK for five years or more. 

It is not clear as yet if you would be able to keep your settled status by short visits once in a while. So far, it look like this should be possible, but the law may eventually change.


Last updated on June 6, 2024

Last updated on  21 December, 2022

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