How to make a settled status application
Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU citizens currently living in the UK are required to apply for settled status to allow them to continue living and working indefinitely in the UK post-Brexit.
The deadline to make a settled status application will be 30 June 2021 if the UL leaves the European Union with a deal. In the event of a no deal Brexit, the deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020.
Who should make a settled status application?
To retain existing immigration rights in the UK, EU citizens, EEA citizens Swiss citizens and their non-EEA family members should make a settled status application. Irish citizens do not need to apply.
An EEA citizen is a citizen of a EU country or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.
You will still need to make the application if you:
- hold a UK permanent residence document unless you apply to become a British citizen before 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
- were born in the UK but are not a British citizen
- are a EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has a British citizen as a family member
- are a family member of a EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who is not required to make the application themselves
Other individuals may also be able to apply, for example, if you are a primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer, or a qualifying family member has died or you have separated from them.
It is not necessary to apply for settled status if you are a British or Irish citizen.
If you hold indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you do not need to apply for settled status, although it is worth noting that with settled status, you may leave the UK for up to five years without losing your status, rather than the two-year absence restriction on ILR holders.
Family members of EU nationals who wish to apply for settled status must be living in the UK by 31 December 2020. After this date, family members may still be able to move to the UK but should expect to become subject to UK immigration control with various determining factors, such as whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, your nationality and the length of your relationship with that particular family member.
Eligibility criteria for settled status
The requirements for an applicant to be granted settled status are set out in Appendix EU of the Immigration Rules. To be granted settled status, you must satisfy the eligibility criteria, have completed a valid application and not have had your application refused for suitability reasons.
To satisfy the eligibility criteria, you must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, or if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, by the date of Brexit.
You must also be able to show ‘continuous residence’, which means that you have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for more than six months in any 12-month period for five consecutive years.
You may still be eligible for pre-settled status if you have not lived in the UK for five consecutive years.
There are several exceptions to the ‘continuous residence’ requirement, including military service or working abroad as a Crown servant. In addition, you may have lived outside of the UK for one period of no more than one year for an ‘important’ reason such as illness, training, study and childbirth.
If you have a UK permanent residence document or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK and apply for settled status, you will not need to prove that you fulfil the continuous residence requirement.
Your application is likely to be refused on suitability grounds if you have a had a deportation order, exclusion order or exclusion decision made against you.
In addition, although having criminal convictions will not necessarily preclude you from obtaining settled status, having convictions for repeated or serious crimes or being deemed a security threat will result in your settled status application being unsuccessful.
What is pre-settled status?
If you have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, or if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, by the date of Brexit, but do not fulfil the five-year continuous residence requirement at the time you make your settled status application, it is likely you will be granted pre-settled status.
If you do not currently fulfil the continuous residence requirement, but would do so by the application deadline date (30 June 2021, or in the event of a no-deal Brexit, 31 December 2020), it may be advisable for you not to apply until that requirement has been met. This will avoid being granted pre-settled status and then having to re-apply for settled status at a later date.
Is there a difference in the rights under settled status or pre-settled status?
A person who is granted settled status is able to remain in the UK indefinitely. Provided that they are eligible, they can also apply to become a British citizen after holding settled status for at least 12 months.
If you hold settled status, you will be able to spend up to five consecutive years outside of the UK (up to four years if you are a Swiss citizen).
Children born in the UK to those who have been granted settled status will be British citizens.
A person who is granted pre-settled status can remain in the UK for five years from the date of grant. This five-year period cannot be extended but once you have fulfilled the continuous residence requirement, you will be able to re-apply for settled status.
If you hold pre-settled status, you will be able to spend up to two consecutive years outside of the UK. However, if you are hoping to be granted settled status at a later date, it is important that you bear in mind the continuous residence requirement if you plan to spend any time outside of the UK.
Children born in the UK to those who have been granted pre-settled status will also have pre-settled status.
- Settled status or pre-settled status
Regardless of whether you are granted settled status or pre-settled status, you will be able to work in the UK, make use of the NHS, access certain benefits and pensions, enter and leave the UK and/or begin, or continue, to study in the UK.
Is there a settled status application fee?
The settled status application process is free of charge. Any person who completed their application before 30 March 2019 will have had to pay a fee but if this is the case, you should by now have received a refund.
What is the settled status application process?
The settled status application can be completed online. Once you have begun your application, you will have 70 days to complete and submit it. A paper application form is available and may have to be completed in some circumstances.
To complete the application, you will need:
- proof of identity, such as a valid passport or national identity card
- a digital photo of your face
- proof of the length of time that you have lived in the UK, such as your National Insurance number. If you are able to provide your National Insurance number, an automated check will be conducted on your records while you are applying to see how long you have lived in the UK. If you do not have a National Insurance number, you will need to provide other supporting documents
- email address and mobile telephone number
- proof of your family relationship, such as a marriage certificate, if you are applying as a family member
If you have an android mobile telephone, you can download the Home Office app which allows you to scan in your identity document and take the photo as part of the application process. This is the quickest option.
Alternatively, you can attend a document scanner location to scan in your documents or send your documents by post.
If the application is simple and completed online with scanned documents and a National Insurance number, a decision may be received within a few hours although some decisions will take longer than this.
You will receive a letter from the Home Office which will set out your status and also include an online link setting out the same. It is the online link which can be used to prove that you have settled status, not the letter.
What happens if settled status or pre-settled status is not granted or is not applied for?
If you are granted pre-settled status despite being eligible for settled status, take advice on your options. It may be appropriate to refuse the decision and provide additional supporting documents to show that you satisfy the full settled status eligibility requirement.
In the event that your application is not fully completed or there is missing evidence or documents, you should be allowed a reasonable period of time to complete the application or provide the required evidence. This should not prejudice your application.
As long as you satisfy the eligibility and suitability criteria, there is no reason why your application should not be successful. However, if your settled status application is refused, other possible options for you will depend on the timing of your application and whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal or without.
Failure to apply could result in uncertainty over, or even the loss of, your rights and status as a UK resident.
If you delay making the application and the UK leaves the EU without a deal prior to 31 December 2020, your position from the date of Brexit until you make the application is currently unclear and your rights as a UK resident may not be protected.