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What is Pre Settled Status in the UK?

The following guide looks at the meaning of pre settled status in the UK for citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, including how you and your family members can apply for settled status having first been granted pre settled status under the current rules.


What is pre settled status UK?

When making an application under the EU settlement scheme you will be granted either settled or pre settled status. Your rights will be different depending on which status you get.

Pre-settled status is a grant of limited leave to remain for five years. With pre settled status you can continue to live, work and study in the UK after 30 June 2021, although this permission is effectively limited to a period of five years from the date you are granted your status. If you would like to remain in the UK indefinitely, you would need to reapply under the scheme for settled status.

To qualify for settled status you would need to show that you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years. To satisfy the five-year continuous residence requirement you must have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least six months in any twelve-month period.

The exceptions to this are as follows:

  • one period of up to twelve months for an important reason such as childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting
  • compulsory military service of any length
  • time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
  • time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces.


What is the difference between settled and pre status?

Irrespective of whether you are granted settled or pre settled status you will be able to continue to live, work and study in the UK, with full access to healthcare and public funds, including benefits and pensions if you are eligible for them.

You will also be permitted to travel in and out of the UK.

However, broadly speaking, if you have been granted settled status it is expected that you will be able to spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing that status, whereas this is likely to be limited to two years for those with pre settled status.

You would also need to maintain your continuous residence if you wanted to go on to qualify for settled status.

Further, with settled status, any children born in the UK while you are living here will automatically be classed as British citizens, while for those with pre settled status any children born in the UK will only be a British citizen if they qualify for it through their other parent. Otherwise, these children would only automatically qualify for pre settled status.

Those with settled status may also become eligible to naturalise as a British citizen.


Who is eligible for pre settled status?

You will be eligible for pre settled status if you are resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, in the event of a deal, or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal and you have not yet accrued five years’ continuous residence.

If, on the other hand, you have lived in the UK for a period of five years or more, and your application under the EU settlement scheme is successful, you should be granted settled status, allowing you to remain living, working and/or studying in the UK for as long as you like.


Are non-EU family members eligible?

To be eligible to apply for pre settled, or settled, status under the EU settlement scheme, family members do not need to be from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, rather they can come from anywhere in the world. These applicants are known as non-EU citizen family members.

Family members can include the spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen. You may also be able to apply if you are the dependent child/grandchild, parent/grandparent or relative of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or of their spouse or civil partner.

There are also various other circumstances in which a non-EU citizen may be eligible to apply for settled status including, for example, where that individual used to have EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK but they have since separated or passed away.


How to apply for pre settled status UK

In most cases you will be able to submit your application online, although there are some limited exceptions, for example, for some non-EU family members, whereby applications for pre settled or settled status will need to be submitted by paper application and post.

To apply you will need the following:

  • Proof of your identity, such as a passport or national identity card if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or perhaps a biometric residence permit for non-EU family members
  • Your national insurance number so that checks can be carried out of your residence based on any tax and benefit records or, alternatively, proof of your residence in the UK, including proof of continuous residence over a five year period for those of you seeking settled status
  • If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, proof of your relationship to your family member from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

During the course of the application process you will also need to provide a digital photo of your face. This can be done by way of a ‘selfie’.


When can you apply for pre settled status UK?

The EU settlement scheme is now open and is free of charge to apply. However, the final deadline to apply in most cases is 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

As an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or family member currently living in the UK, your rights 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. 

In the event that you will reach the five year continuous residence point prior to 30 December 2020, you may want to delay your application until then, so that if your application is successful you will be granted settled status.


When can you transfer to full settled status?

When you apply under the EU settlement scheme you will be given either settled status or pre settled status, depending on when you apply and the length of time that you have resided in the UK at that time.

You will not be asked to choose which you type of status you are applying for, rather this will be determined by the Home Office based on checks made against your national insurance number and any documentation submitted in support of your application.

In the event that you have not accrued the requisite period of continuous residence, you will be granted pre settled status. However, once you have lived in the UK for a period of five years, including any period accrued prior to the grant of your pre settled status, you can reapply for settled status.


Can I apply for British citizenship with pre settled status UK?

You will not be eligible to apply for British citizenship if you have only been granted pre settled status. You will first need to accrue five years continuous residence in the UK to enable you to apply for settled status.

Having been granted settled status, you will then need to live in the UK for a further twelve months before applying for British citizenship.

You will also need to satisfy the eligibility criteria 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.


Pre settled status FAQs

What does pre settled status mean?

Pre settled status means your stay is limited to five years in the UK. This is to allow you to attain the requisite five years of continuous residence to qualify for full settled status.

What is the difference between settled and pre settled status?

Both settled and pre settled status permit holders the rights to live, work and study in the UK. However, pre settled status is limited to a period of five-years, while those with settled status are granted indefinite permission to remain in the UK, and can become eligible for British citizenship. In addition, pre settled status can be lost after 2 years absence from the UK, whereas settled status would generally be lost after 5 years of absence.

How long does it take to get pre settled status?

Application processing can take between 5 working days up to month to process.

Can you lose pre settled status?

Yes, if you are absent from the UK for a period of 2 consecutive years you can lose your pre settled status. In addition, your period of 'continuous residence' resets to 0 if you spend over 6 months abroad in any 12-month period with pre-Settled Status.


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