As an EU citizen living in the UK, but having not yet taken the necessary steps to secure your immigration status post-Brexit, the following guide can help you to explore the options still available to you.
We look at eligibility under the EU Settlement Scheme and the circumstances in which ‘missed pre-settled status deadline’ cases and ‘missed settled status deadline’ cases are being handled by the Home Office. We also look at the requirements for ‘EU citizen NTL’ applications, also known as No Time Limit (NTL) applications, for those with indefinite leave to remain.
What are the options for ‘missed pre-settled status deadline’ cases?
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was set up to enable EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 to apply for lawful immigration status. In this way, these individuals would continue to have the permission they needed to live, work and study in the UK, and to access UK benefits and healthcare services.
Although the UK left the EU on 31 December 2020, a grace period was put in place for EU citizens to apply for lawful status to live in the UK post-Brexit under the EUSS up until 30 June 2021. There were two options under the EUSS: settled status and pre-settled status. Settled status was for EU citizens who had been living in the UK for 5 or more years, while pre-settled status was for those who could not yet prove 5 years’ continuous residence. However, if you have missed the deadline to apply for either settled or pre-settled status, all is not lost.
If you have not resided in the UK for at least 5 years, you may still be able to apply for pre-settled status under the EUSS, although you must meet one of the criteria for a later deadline. For example, if you are joining a family member living in the UK by 31 December 2020, your deadline will be based on your arrival date, provided you were their family member by 31 December 2020 and the family relationship still exists when you apply. In these circumstances, you will have 90 days to apply from when you arrived in the UK, provided you joined them on or after 1 April 2021. If you joined them before that date, your deadline was 30 June 2021.
You may also be able to apply under the EUSS if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by 30 June 2021. There are a number of scenarios that count as reasonable grounds for not applying to the EUSS by the deadline date, including you had a serious medical condition which prevented you from applying or you have been in an abusive or controlling relationship. This list is not exhaustive, and Home Office caseworkers are expected to adopt a ‘flexible and pragmatic approach’ when considering whether there are reasonable grounds.
You will need to provide evidence to support the reason or reasons you give for missing the deadline. However, if you are the primary carer of a British citizen and you apply by 25 July 2022, you will not have to provide evidence of why you missed the 30 June 2021 deadline.
What are the options for ‘missed settled status deadline’ cases?
If you already have pre-settled status under the EUSS, but have not yet accrued 5 years’ continuous residence, you will still be able to apply for settled status once you meet the qualifying residence requirement. In all cases, pre-settled status will have been granted for 5 years, where you must apply for settled status prior to expiry of this period.
Ideally, you should not wait until the last minute, but rather apply as soon as you have met the residence requirement. The 5 years is calculated from the day you started your period of continuous residence, and not the day you were granted pre-settled status. For example, if you came to the UK on 29 December 2020 and obtained pre-settled status on 29 June 2021, you will be eligible to apply for settled status on 29 December 2025, after you have lived in the UK for 5 years. The latest you could apply for settled status is on 28 June 2026, just before your pre-settled status expires. However, you may not be eligible for settled status if during that 5 years you spent in excess of 6 months outside the UK in any 12-month period.
If you have accrued 5 years’ continuous residence but have not yet obtained either settled or pre-settled status, as with any late EUSS application, you will need to show reasonable grounds for failing to apply by 30 June 2021. It will still be free to apply to the EUSS, both for settled and pre-settled status, although you should seek urgent legal advice to maximise your chances of a successful outcome. Your legal advisor can also help you to explore any other immigration options that may be available to you, such as a work or study visa.
What are the options for EU citizen NTL cases?
Many EU citizens have been living lawfully in the UK for several years with indefinite leave status, but may have doubts over whether or not they are now living in the UK legally post-Brexit, especially where this is not clear from their passports or any old-style document, or they no longer have any documentary proof of their indefinite leave. The good news is that many of these citizens will now be eligible to make a free-of-charge No Time Limit (NTL) application to have their status confirmed by way of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
Please note, if you have been granted settled status under the EUSS, you will not need to make an EU citizen NTL application. You will already have secure digital status permitting you to stay in the UK indefinitely. Equally, if you have pre-settled status under the EUSS, you will instead need to apply for settled status having resided in the UK for 5 continuous years.
What is an EU citizen NTL application?
An EU citizen NTL application is essentially an administrative process by which an EU citizen in the UK with either indefinite leave to enter (ILE) or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can apply for confirmation of their lawful status on a BRP. Any person who holds ILE or ILR, and is ordinarily resident in the UK, will be free from immigration time restrictions and will be classed as settled. Provided you are eligible, you can apply for an NTL BRP where:
you would like to upgrade any non-digital proof of your ILR or ILE status, for example, where you have a passport vignette sticker, you can exchange this for digital confirmation of your immigration status in the form of a new-style BRP
your passport containing an ILE or ILR endorsement has been lost, stolen or has expired
you have legitimately changed your identity since being granted indefinite leave and would like this confirmed on a BRP.
Who is eligible to make an EU citizen NTL application?
To be eligible to make an EU citizen NTL application, you must:
- be in the UK with either ILE or ILR
- have not lost your ILE or ILR status, for example, by being absent from the UK for more than 2 continuous years since 2000
- continue to be entitled to ILE/ILR, where this status has not been or will not be revoked.
As an EU citizen, if you were granted indefinite leave under the Immigration Rules prior to 30 April 2006, when the right of permanent residence came into force under the EEA Regulations, or before the EU country of which you are a national joined the EU, you may be eligible to apply. You may also be eligible as the spouse or partner of a person present and settled in the UK if you were granted indefinite leave on this basis, or as the holder of ILR under a route associated with the European Communities Association Agreement with Turkey.
You will not be eligible for an NTL BRP if you are an EU citizen or their family member who acquired a right of permanent residence under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 before these regulations were revoked on 31 December 2020. In these circumstances, you will instead need to make an application under the EUSS.
What are the benefits of making an EU citizen NTL application?
It is not mandatory to apply for an NTL BRP as an EU citizen with indefinite leave, although there are a number of benefits in you making an application, including the fact that a BRP:
- has enhanced security features which cannot be found on an old-style vignette, meaning there is less chance of this being used fraudulently by someone else
- is evidence that you have the right to reside permanently in the UK, together with the right to work and access certain state benefits, providing you with peace of mind
- will allow you to prove your right to work or rent using online checking services
- will facilitate travel both overseas and coming back to the UK.
How to make an EU citizen NTL application
To make an EU citizen NTL application, you must apply from inside the UK using the online NTL application form. This can be found at GOV.UK. You will also be required to provide your biometric information and submit supporting documentation. This must include, among other things, any existing documentary proof of indefinite leave and photographic evidence confirming your identity, such as a passport, driving licence or national identity card.
If you are eligible to make an EU citizen NTL application, you may be able to include any dependants on your application, provided they also have indefinite leave. This can include your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner and any children under the age of 18.
Once an EU citizen NTL application has been submitted, and all supporting documentation has been received by the Home Office, your application should be decided within 6 to 8 weeks, although this could take up to 6 months where further information is requested. However, the benefits of having an BRP can make this worth the wait, where this can be used to prove your right to live and work in the UK. It can also facilitate an application for British citizenship.
NTL for EU citizens FAQs
What is NTL in immigration?
An NTL (No Time Limit) application is where a person in the UK holds indefinite leave to enter or remain and is looking to replace an old-style immigration document, or confirm their lawful status, with a Biometric Residence Permit.
Who can apply for NTL?
Someone can apply for NTL if they have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK, they have not lost this status by being absent from the UK for excessive periods and continue to be entitled to indefinite leave.
Can EU citizens get biometric residence permit?
An EU citizen can apply for a biometric residence permit if, for example, they were granted indefinite leave under the Immigration Rules before 30 April 2006 or before the EU country of which they are a national joined the EU.
Is it too late to apply for pre-settled status?
The deadline for applications for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021, although you may still be eligible to make a late application if you can show reasonable grounds for not applying in time.
What happens if you miss the deadline for EU Settlement Scheme?
If you missed the 30 June 2021 deadline to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you should seek urgent legal advice about submitting a late application.
What happens if you don't apply for EUSS?
If you are an EU citizen and have not applied for immigration status under the EUSS (EU Settlement Scheme), you may now be living in the UK unlawfully. You should seek professional legal advice from an immigration specialist straight away.
Last updated: 28 June 2022