Home Office settled status was introduced by the UK government to prepare for Britain’s departure from the European Union and the end of EU freedom of movement.
Under the EU settlement scheme, EU citizens currently in the UK are required to register via a Home Office application to confirm their continued right to live, work and remain in the UK after Brexit.
In this article we look at what Home Office settled status means for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and answer some FAQs in relation to making a settled status application, including who can apply, how to apply and the meaning of pre-settled status.
What is Home Office settled status?
With settled status, nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, together with their eligible family members, will be permitted to carry in living, working and studying in the UK post-Brexit. The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The grant of settled status means you will maintain your existing UK immigration rights after Britain leaves the EU and you will also continue to be eligible for:
- public services, such as healthcare and schools
- public funds and pensions
- British citizenship, where you meet the requirements.
Failure to register for the scheme risks individuals becoming illegal and undocumented in post-Brexit Britain.
Where successful, having been granted Home Office settled status under the scheme, you will be allowed to continue living, working and studying in the UK after Brexit.
Who is affected by the EU settlement scheme?
In most cases you will be eligible to apply for Home Office settled status if you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or you are a family member of someone from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
In the event that you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you may also be able to apply in the following circumstances:
- You used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK, but you have separated or they have died
- You are the family member of a British citizen and you lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
- You are the family member of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
- You are the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- You are the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer.
You will need to apply for Home Office settled status even if:
- You were born in the UK but are not a British citizen
- You have a UK permanent residence document
- You are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who does not need to apply, including if they are from Ireland
- You are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen with a British citizen family member.
You do not, however, need to apply if you have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK, or if you have British or Irish citizenship, including dual citizenship. Take advice if you are unsure about your circumstances.
How to apply for Home Office settled status
You can apply for Home Office settled status under what’s known as the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme is now open and is free of charge to apply. The final deadline to apply (correct at time of publishing) is 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
EU citizens’ rights in the U.K. will remain unchanged until then, provided that you were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, or the date the UK leaves the EU if there’s no deal.
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can submit your application under the EU Settlement Scheme online.
If you fall into any one of the following categories, you would usually not be permitted to use the online service and will instead need to apply by post:
- Family members of British citizens who lived with their British relative in Switzerland or an EU or EEA country that is not the UK
- Family members of British citizens who also have EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as EU, EEA or Swiss citizens before getting British citizenship
- Primary carers of British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizens
- Children (in education) of EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who used to live and work in the UK, or the children’s primary carers
What documents do I need to apply to the Home Office for settled status?
When making an application for Home Office settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, whether online or by post, you will need to provide various documents in support, including the following:
- Proof of your identity, for example, a passport or national identity card. If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can use a biometric residence card or biometric residence permit.
- Proof of your residence in the UK, including proof of continuous residence in the event that you have lived in the UK for more than 5 years, although residence checks using your national insurance number may suffice here.
- If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, proof of your relationship to your family member from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
What is pre-settled status?
Having submitted your application under the EU Settlement Scheme, the Home Office will then make a decision as to whether or not you are entitled to settled status. Even where your application is accepted, you will not necessarily be automatically granted Home Office settled status. You may, instead, be granted what’s known as “pre-settled status”.
You will not be asked to choose the type of status you are applying for, rather it will all depend on the length of time that you have been living in the UK at the time you submit your application.
For those of you who have lived in the UK for 5 years or more on a continuous basis, you should be granted settled status. If, however, you have lived in the UK for less than 5 years, you will usually be granted pre-settled status. To be eligible for pre-settled status you must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
In the event that you are granted pre-settled status, you will be allowed to remain in the UK for 5 years, after which you can apply for settled status.
Home Office settled status will allow you to live and work in the UK indefinitely. You will also be able to apply for British citizenship where you meet the requirements, and any children born in the UK while you are living here will automatically be classed as British citizens.
For those of you that you will acquire 5 years’ continuous residence at any point prior to 30 December 2020, you may want to wait to apply until the necessary number of years have been accrued, thereby making you immediately eligible for Home Office settled status.
Settled status for children
You can apply for Home Office settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme for your child where they are under 21 and either they are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or you or your spouse/civil partner is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.
If you have already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme you should be able to link your child’s application to yours, using the application number you got when you applied for yourself. You will need to provide proof of your relationship to your child when you apply.
In the event that your own application is successful, your child will be granted the same status as you.
If you have not already applied yourself, you may want to make your own application before you apply for your child. In this way you will not need to submit proof of their residence in the UK with their application. That said, the Home Office may still ask you for proof of residence before making any decision.
In the event that you are not eligible for Home Office settled status under the scheme but your child is, for example, because they live in the UK and you do not, you can still apply for them. In these circumstances you will need to submit proof of their UK residence.
Relatives applying for settled status
Non-EU/EEA family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or before 31 December 2025 if you are a Swiss citizen), or the date the UK leaves the EU in the event of a no deal, are eligible to apply for Home Office settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme once they are in the UK.
This includes the spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen. It also includes the following relatives of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or their spouse or civil partner:
- child, grandchild or great-grandchild under 21 years old
- dependent child over the age of 21
- dependent parent, grandparent or great-grandparent
- dependent relative
You may still be able to bring close family members after 31 December 2020. However, this will depend on where you are from, when your relationship with your family member started and whether it still exists, and whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal.
If you cannot bring your family member under the EU Settlement Scheme, they may still be able to come here in a different way, for example on a family visa.
Does the Home Office issue proof of settled status?
If your application for Home Office settled status is successful, you will receive an emailed letter confirming your settled or pre-settled status. This letter will include a link to an online service that can be used to view and prove your status.
You cannot use the letter itself to prove your status, and you will not get a physical document unless you are from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or you do not already have a biometric residence card.
Please note, you can still prove your rights in the UK until 31 December 2020 with your passport or national identity card if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or with your biometric residence document.
Can I apply for British citizenship with settled status?
If your application under the EU settlement scheme is successful, you will usually be able to apply for British citizenship twelve months after you have been granted settled status.
However, you will still need to satisfy the relevant eligibility requirements for naturalisation including, for example, that you are of sound mind and good character, and that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK and that you meet the residency requirement.
*Please note, this article was accurate at the time of writing and details of the EU Settlement Scheme, and applying for Home Office settled status as set out above, may alter depending on the terms on which the U.K. leaves the EU.