The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and has entered a transition period due to end on 31 December 2020.
Our EU friends, neighbours, and colleagues contribute to the work, society, and economy of Britain. We need to support them during this time. Especially, we need to make sure that people have the correct information. If you are an EU citizen, if you employ EU citizens, or if your friends and colleagues are EU citizens, then please read and share this blog about the Myths and Facts of Settled Status after Brexit.
Henrijs is working at a bar in Bristol. He is Latvian. He has been in the UK for six years and has been working in the same bar for three years. Surely, he says, he doesn’t need to apply for settled status – he is a resident now, isn’t he? Doesn’t the settled status scheme only apply to people who have arrived in the UK recently?
Unfortunately, Henrijs is mistaken. He is also far being from alone in his mistaken belief that he doesn’t need to make an application for settled status.
One of the areas we have needed to give the most advice on in the past two years is whether and how people need to apply for settled status, following Britain’s exit from the European Union.
These are some of the questions people have asked us, and the guidance we have offered. We hope you find it helpful.
I don’t need to apply for settled status do I? – I’ve been living and working here for ten years.
However long you’ve lived in the UK unless you are a British or Irish citizen, you will need to apply for settled status. The exception would be if you have proof that you have indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
You can continue to live in the UK without applying to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK. However, if you choose to apply (and meet all the other conditions), you’ll get ‘indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme’ – also known as settled status.
This means you should be able to spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status (instead of 2 years with the indefinite leave to enter or remain you have now).
Even if you have ILR it is advisable to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to re-engage with the Home office and receive an updated status. If you lose evidence of your ILR and the Home Office has no record of it, you could find it difficult to prove lawful residence.
Surely I don’t need to apply for settled status – I’m married to a British citizen?
Even if you are married to a British citizen (or have a relative who is a British citizen), you still need to apply for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status, and prove that you were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020.
I was born in the UK, so I don’t need to apply, do I?
If you are a British citizen then you don’t need to apply. However, if you were born in the UK but are not a British citizen, you will still need to apply for settled status. You can check whether you are a British citizen by following this link.
I have a permanent residence document, so does this mean I don’t need to apply?
If you have a valid UK permanent residence document, the process of applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is different.
However, to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021 you must either:
- apply to the EU Settlement Scheme – you will not have to prove you have 5 years’ continuous residence.
- apply for citizenship before 30 June 2021
More information is available through this link.
I’m Irish, do I need to apply?
No, you don’t need to apply for settled status if you hold British or Irish citizenship (including dual citizenship).
I’ve heard you have to declare criminal convictions – do I need to declare my speeding fines?
The Home Office will check applications against the UK’s crime database. You will be asked to declare any convictions that appear in your criminal record in the UK or overseas. You do not need to declare:
- convictions that do not need to be disclosed (‘spent convictions’)
- warnings (‘cautions’)
- alternatives to prosecution, including speeding fines
You’ll still be eligible for settled or pre-settled status if you’ve only been convicted of a minor crime.
You may still get settled or pre-settled status even if you have other convictions. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
But surely it’s too late? Britain left the EU at the end of January 2020, so I can’t make an application now.
Fortunately, this isn’t true. The rights and status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK will remain the same until 30 June 2021.
The deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021.
If you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme successfully, you’ll be able to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021.
If your application is successful, you will be given either:
Settled status or pre-settled status
You will not be asked to choose which you’re applying for. Which status you get depends on how long you’ve been living in the UK when you apply.
Will I get settled status or pre-settled status? What’s the difference?
You will usually get settled status if you started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and have lived in the UK for a continuous 5 year period (i.e. for five years in a row you’ve been in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any 12 month period).
If you get settled status you can stay in the UK as long as you like. You’ll also be able to apply for British citizenship if you’re eligible and if you want to. You will be able to spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status.
If you don’t have 5 years of continuous residence when you apply but have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you will usually get pre-settled status.
You can stay in the UK for 5 years from the date you get pre-settled status. You can then apply to change this to settled status once you’ve got 5 years’ continuous residence. You will need to remember to do this before your pre-settled status expires. You will be able to spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status. Remember, though, that if you then want to qualify for the settled status you will need to maintain continuous residence (i.e. for five years in a row you need to have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any 12 month period).
What rights will I have if I get settled or pre-settled status?
If you successfully apply for settled or pre-settled status, you will be able to:
- work in the UK
- continue to use NHS services for free
- enrol in education or continue studying
- access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
- travel in and out of the UK
What documents will I need to apply for settled status or pre-settled status?
When you apply, you’ll need proof of:
- your identity – for example, a valid passport, or national identity card, and a digital photograph of your face.
- your residence in the UK, unless you have a valid permanent residence document or valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK. You can give your National Insurance number to allow an automated check of your residence based on tax and certain benefit records.
If this check is successful, you won’t need to provide any documents as proof of residence. You’ll only need to provide documents if you have been here for 5 years in a row but there is not enough data to confirm this. The Home Office will tell you immediately after you apply if you need to provide any further documents.
How do I apply for settled status?
Applying for the Settlement Scheme involves an identity check and completion of an online form.
The identity check can be done in several ways including:
- Using the “EU Exit: ID document check” app – this is available to EU nationals who have a biometric passport or ID and non-EU nationals who have a Biometric Residence Card issued to them under the EEA Regulations. The app works on Android 6.0 and above, and now on iPhone 7 and newer models with iOS 13.2.
- Attending a document scanner location (these can be found by following this link) this is available to EU nationals who have a biometric passport and non-EU nationals who have a Biometric Residence Card issued to them under the EEA Regulations
- Sending the identity document to the Home Office by post.
There are a number of websites which provide detailed guidance on making your application.
Free Movement – an organisation which provides advice on immigration law – has a detailed and easy to follow step by step guide on making your application. This can be accessed here.
The UK Government site, click here.
Citizens Advice also offers useful guidance. This can be accessed here.