EU Settlement Scheme
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What is EU settlement scheme
EU Settlement scheme is a set of rules granting residence rights to EU nationals and their family members who were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020.
The scheme has two types of permissions – pre-settled status(temporary permission) and settled status (indefinite leave to remain). The purpose of the scheme is to protect the rights of EEA nationals resident in the UK as they existed before Brexit.
EU settlement scheme also covers family members of 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 is the right to live in the UK permanently. It is granted to EU nationals and their family members after five years of residence in the UK.
Settled status allows you to work and study in the UK, set up a business and also sponsor workers from outside the UK.
You are entitled 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.
Settled status is lost if you are absent from the UK for five years or more.
What is pre-settled status
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.
Pre-settled status was granted for five years and from September 2023 is extended automatically for another two 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.
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 settled status
Pre-settled status (temporary permission) is granted for a period of five years.
It is lost automatically if you are absent from the UK for two years. If you are not living in the UK but visiting the country at least once in two years, your pre-settled status is not affected and you continue to enjoy the right to work in the UK.
Absences from the UK will bear on your right to apply for a settled status.
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 and you may be able to extend your pre-settled status to reach the qualifying five years for the settled status.
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 20 October, 2023
Last updated on 21 December, 2022