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EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme was opened by the UK government in March 2019 and is designed to provide EU citizens and their family members with a straightforward method of remaining in the UK now that it has left the European Union.

When to apply

If you entered the UK before 31 December 2020, you will retain EU rights up to 30 June 2021. In order to extend your stay after this point, you should make an application to the scheme as soon as possible, but before 30 June 2021.

EU citizens, European Economic Area (EEA) citizens (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss citizens who are living outside the UK after 31 December 2020, will need to get permission to enter the UK after this date. Those coming to study a course longer than six months will need to apply for a Student visa. Students coming to study a course which is six months or less can enter the UK as a Standard visitor.

Who can apply

  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
  • Non-EEA family members, which include:
  • spouses
  • civil partners
  • durable partners (unmarried partnership)
  • children, grandchildren or great grandchildren
  • dependent parents, grandparents or great grandparents
  • dependent relatives.
  • For a full list of categories please see the Home Office's EU Settlement Scheme guidance.

Irish citizens have the right to remain in the UK independent of EU law, and as such do not need to apply for the scheme. However, their non-EEA family members will need to apply.

Residency requirements

Individuals with a continuous period of residence in the UK and Islands (Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man) of five years or more will normally be granted settled status. A continuous period is defined as at least six months in any 12-month period.

There are specific circumstances where children under 21 who do not meet these requirements may be granted settled status. For full details, check the Home Office's EU Settlement Scheme guidance.

Those with periods of residency of less than five years will normally be granted five years pre-settled status.

What happens after you apply

After applying, you will be issued with a ‘certificate of application’. Once a decision on the application has been made and status is granted, the Home Office will email a letter confirming which one of two possible statuses you now have:

  • pre-settled status = limited leave to remain for five years
  • settled status = indefinite leave to remain.

If you are granted pre-settled status, you can apply for settled status after accumulating the required five years residency. 

Frequently asked questions

I already have a ‘Permanent Residence Card’, do I need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

  • The current right of permanent residence under EU law will no longer apply after 31 December 2020. In order to secure your right to remain after this date you should apply for the settlement scheme.
  • If your permanent residence has not been revoked and you have not spent more than five years outside of the UK since it was issued, you will normally be eligible for settled status.

I am a family member of an EU/EEA/Swiss national. Am I eligible to apply for the Settlement Scheme?

What documents do I need to provide?

  • You will need to demonstrate both your identity and evidence of residency.
  • Identity: EEA citizens will need to provide their current passport or ID card. Non-EEA family members will need to provide their current passport and valid immigration documentation.
  • Residency: If you have been resident in the UK and Islands for five years or more, you will normally have your residency automatically checked using HMRC (tax) and DWP (benefit) checks. Other applicants can upload evidence of their residency during the application process. A list of examples of residency can be found in the Home Office's EU Settlement Scheme guidance (page 99).

I do not have the required documents to prove my identity

Am I able to travel while the decision is being made?

  • Yes, according to the Home Office guidance, travelling outside of the UK will not mean your application is withdrawn. However you should be careful not to leave the UK for long periods so as not to affect your residency period.

How long will it take to get a decision?

What document will I receive confirming my status?

  • After applying, you will be sent a certificate of application confirming you have applied. If you are successful you will then be emailed a letter confirming your status. Whether you are then issued with a physical document will depend on your status: 
  • If you are a non-EEA/Swiss citizen and do not currently hold a biometric residence permit (BRP) then you will be issued with one. Family members of EEA/Swiss citizens who are not issued with a BRP should consider swapping to a Settlement Scheme BRP. You can find out more on the Citizens Advice website.
  • All applicants, regardless of nationality, will be assigned a unique code which can be used to verify their status with employers and other official organisations.
  • If you are an EEA/Swiss citizen then you will not be issued with a BRP, but given a unique code only.

I have been absent from the UK, am I still eligible? 

  • All individuals should have continuous residence in the UK. Continuous residence is defined as at least 6 months in a 12-month period.
  • If you have been unable to travel to the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government will consider exceptions to this residency requirement on a case-by-case basis. 
  • If you need help or advice on your application, please contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre.