Brexit - EU Settlement Scheme

Last modified: 03 February 2020

What is the settlement scheme and why is it necessary? 

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020. See here for an explanation of the current situation in regards to the UK's departure from the EU

The EU settlement scheme is designed to offer EU, non-EU EEA and Swiss citizens and their eligible family members living in the UK before the end of the transition period (during which free movement continues) the opportunity to protect their residence in the UK after the transition period has ended.

The settlement scheme is not only for those who intend to settle in the UK after studying. It is immigration permission, which can lead to settlement, but does not have to be used to gain settlement. With permission under the scheme there will be no restrictions on study (where you study or what you study). 

Do I have to apply under the settlement scheme?

Last modified: 30 January 2020

EU citizens, non-EU EEA, Swiss citizens and the eligible family members of all of them who are in the UK beyond 31 December 2020 will need to have immigration permission (either through the EU settlement scheme or through another category of the Immigration Rules as they will be from January 2021). Please note that those who enter the UK before 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply under the scheme. NOTE: 31 December 2020 is the date the Withdrawal Act names as the end of any 'transitional' phase.

For the same reason, those who have a documented right of permanent residence under EU law will need to apply under the scheme before the end of the transition period (or under another category of the Immigration Rules), as the right of permanent residence is an EU right which will no longer be recognised after the transitional/implementation period. Those with a document confirming permanent residence can apply for free under the scheme, and will (if successful) be granted 'settled status'. 

Certain eligible family members who have not entered the UK by 31 December 2020 may still be able to apply under the settlement scheme after the deadline, if the relationship with the EU, non-EU or Swiss citizen was formed by this date. It will also be open to a child later born to someone granted permission under the scheme. 

The settlement scheme has been designed to be very straightforward and user-friendly and has been tested under three pilots (with modifications made to the application throughout these pilots). 

In order to apply under the settlement scheme you do not have to be ‘exercising a right to reside’. This means if you are an EU citizen you will not have to be in the UK as a ‘worker’, ‘student’ or ‘self-sufficient person’ etc. Therefore, there is no requirement under the scheme to provide evidence that you have comprehensive sickness insurance. 

The settlement scheme from 30 March 2019

Last modified: 30 January 2020

There were three phases of a pilot of the scheme and the scheme was fully rolled out at 7 a.m. on 30 March 2019.

The following groups of people who are resident in the UK or arrive by 31 December 2020 can apply under the settlement scheme:

The deadline to apply under the settlement scheme is 30 June 2021.

Eligible family members who are not in the UK by 31 December 2020 may still be eligible to apply under the scheme if  the relationship with the EU/EEA citizen was formed before this date.

Once you have ‘settled status’ any children you have who are under 21 can also apply for ‘settled status’ (without needing to be in the UK for five years themselves).

Those who arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 will be expected to apply under a category of the Immigration Rules in place at that time - details of which have not yet been published.

If you have lived in the UK for five years (meeting the definition of ‘continuous qualifying period’ in Appendix EU Annex 1- Definitions, which includes permitted gaps of up to six months in any 12 month period, and/or one instance of up to 12 months absence for a specified reason, which includes study) you will be able to apply for ‘settled status’ under the scheme. This is also referred to as ‘indefinite leave to remain’. There are (limited) circumstances in which someone can obtain ‘settled status’ with less than five years’ residence

If you have not been in the UK for five years (meeting the definition of ‘continuous qualifying period’ in Appendix EU Annex 1- Definitions), you can apply for ‘pre-settled status’ (a grant of five years’ permission), and after five years of living in the UK you can apply for settled status (the five years does not have to start from the point of the grant of pre-settled status - it will include all the time you have resided in the UK). You will need to do this if you intend to stay in the UK after the five year permission ends (unless you apply under another category of the immigration Rules).

There is no minimum time you need to have spent in the UK in order to apply for pre-settled status – you only need to show evidence that you currently live in the UK (and meet the definition of ‘continuous qualifying period’ in Appendix EU Annex 1- Definitions). The guidance for Home Office caseworkers contains a helpful list at Annex A of evidence that the Home Office currently accept, although other evidence can be used to evidence your residence in the UK.

Once you have ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ status, there will be no restrictions on study (where you study or what you study).

‘Settled status' under the EU settlement scheme (unless granted to Swiss citizens and their family members) will be lost after a continuous absence of more than five years from the UK and Islands. ‘Settled status’ granted to Swiss citizens and their family members under the EU settlement scheme will be lost after a continuous absence of more than four years from the UK and Islands. 

'Pre-settled' status will be lost after a continuous absence of more than two years from the UK and Islands.

If status is lost and you are no longer eligible to apply under the settlement scheme, you will only be able to apply under any other category of the immigration Rules in place at the time you wish to come to the UK.

The application is free. The application under the pilot cost £65. The Home Office has published guidance about refunds for those who applied under the pilot

Read our blogs about the application process by two people who applied under the two previous pilots. 

The application process

Last modified: 03 February 2020

Where to apply for the settlement scheme

How to apply under the settlement scheme

What you need to apply

After you apply


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