To be granted settled status under the EU settlement scheme, an applicant must satisfy specific settled status requirements. These vary depending on where you are from originally, how long you have been resident in the UK and your immigration status within the UK at the time of application.
This guide sets out the settled status requirements, the information that you may need to provide as evidence, and your position if you are not granted settled status or do not apply before the deadlines.
What are the eligibility criteria for the settlement scheme?
The settled status requirements are detailed in the Immigration Rules, Appendix EU. To apply for settled status, you must:
- Be a citizen of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland or a family member of such a citizen. EEA countries are those in the EU as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland;
- have begun living in the UK by 31 December 2020 or the date of Brexit if no deal is agreed; and
- satisfy the ‘continuous residence’ test.
Family members who are applying for settled status must be resident in the UK no later than 31 December 2020 or the date by which the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.
You may also be able to apply if you are a carer of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen or a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen from whom you are now separated or who has died.
There is no requirement for British or Irish citizens to apply for settled status.
What is the continuous residence requirement?
To satisfy the ‘continuous residence’ test, you must have lived in the UK for a minimum of six months out of any 12-month period for at least five consecutive years The UK for these purposes includes the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
There is some flexibility in the ‘continuous residence’ test if your reason for not meeting the threshold is because you were absent from the UK:
- for up to 12 months in one period due to illness, work, childbirth, training or study;
- due to obligatory military service or military service in the UK armed forces; or
- due to your working for the UK government or certain governmental organisations.
Your family members can also benefit from this flexibility if you were in the UK armed forces or working for the UK government.
If you have spent time in prison in the UK, the ‘continuous residence’ test will apply from your date of release.
Evidencing eligibility under the settled status requirements
You will be required to provide certain documents to prove to the Home Office that you satisfy the eligibility criteria for settled status.
You will need to provide:
- An identity document. This could be your national identity card, passport or biometric residence permit. Ideally, this document will include a biometric chip, allowing it to be scanned and negating the need to send the physical document to the Home Office
- A digital photo, which can be taken as part of the online application process
- Evidence of how long you have been resident in the UK. Ideally, this will be your National Insurance number as this allows the Home Office to check your details against their records immediately and confirm to you whether you are eligible for settled status or not. If you cannot supply a National Insurance number or there are gaps in your record you will need to provide additional evidence to show that you have been living in the UK for the required time.
- A mobile telephone number
- Your email address
- Evidence of your relationship if you are making the settled status application as a family member
In certain circumstances, the ‘continuous residence’ test may not apply, and you will not need to provide documents showing the length of time that you have been a UK resident, for example where you:
- Have been granted a UK permanent residence card
- Have been granted indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain
- Are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen but are applying alongside a family member who is or
- Are less than 21 years of age and are applying alongside a family member who is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
Will additional documents be needed?
If you do not have a National Insurance number or there are gaps in your national insurance record, you will need to provide other documents to show that you have satisfied the ‘continuous residence’ test. All documents provided must state your name and be dated.
The entire five-year period needs to be evidenced. Suggested documents include annual bank statements, council tax bills and university certificates. If a document only states one date, rather than a period of time, it will only be valid to evidence your UK residency for that particular month. Examples include monthly electricity bills or a medical appointment card.
The suggested list of documents provided by the Home Office is not, however, mandatory, and other documents not included on the list may be accepted. Importantly, the documents provided must be impartial and official; a letter from a family member or friend, for example, would not be accepted.
How can I prove family relationships?
Documents such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate can be provided to prove your family relationship. If you are applying for settled status as a family member before your relation has applied, you will also need to show evidence of their identity and residence. As a result, it is advisable to make your applications at the same time and link them together, which can be done during the application process.
What are the suitability criteria to apply for the settlement scheme?
What are the suitability requirements?
You will fail to meet the settled status requirements and so not be successful in your application if you do not satisfy the suitability criteria.
Anyone who has had a:
- deportation order;
- deportation decision;
- exclusion decision; or
- exclusion order,
made against them will not satisfy the suitability criteria.
You will also be asked various questions concerning criminal convictions during the application process if you are over 18 years old. While having a criminal conviction will not necessarily mean that your settled status application will be refused, repeated convictions or those for serious crimes will result in refusal of your application. In addition, if you are considered a security threat to the UK, you will not be granted settled status.
You are deemed to have a criminal record if you have been convicted at a crown court, magistrates’ court, sheriff court, high court or justice of the peace court but there are exceptions, including civil offences and minor motoring offences.
The Home Office will check your responses against their internal records so do not be tempted to withhold information regarding any conviction. Doing so may prejudice your application more than the actual conviction itself. If you do have a criminal record, your individual application will be considered and your conduct while living in the UK and overseas will be taken into account, including whether you have provided false or misleading information.
If you are under 18 years of age, you will not be required to answer these criminal conviction questions, but if you do have a conviction, you are best to obtain advice before submitting your application.
What are the differences between settled and pre settled status?
If you do not satisfy the ‘continuous residence’ test, you can expect to be granted pre-settled status rather then settled status. Although you will have the same rights and be able to access the same benefits as if you had settled status, you will only be able to stay in the UK for a five-year period following a grant of pre-settled status, as opposed to indefinitely if you are granted settled status.
If, during that five-year period, you fulfil the ‘continuous residence’ requirement, you can reapply for settled status.
Further differences between settled status and pre-settled status apply to the length of time for which you can be away from the UK while retaining status and the rights of any children born after the date of grant.
With settled status, you can be away from the UK for up to five consecutive years without impacting your status and your children born while you are living in the UK will automatically attain British citizenship. If you have pre-settled status, you can only be absent from the UK for up to two consecutive years to retain your status and your children born while you live in the UK will be eligible for pre-settled status.
What if I have been granted pre settled status instead of full settled status?
If you have been granted pre-settled status because you do not meet the ‘continuous residence’ requirement, you can reapply for settled status once you have lived in the UK for long enough to qualify (that is, after five continuous years).
However, there may be instances where individuals have been granted pre-settled status when they should satisfy the settled status requirements. It may be that there are gaps in your national insurance record or that insufficient evidence has been provided to the Home Office to evidence the entire five-year period. If this applies to you, you could apply again to the scheme, ensuring you provide additional documentation to prove your residence.
There is no right to appeal a refused settle status application, but you may be permitted to apply for administrative review if you believe there was an error with the decision. This must be within 28 days of the decision and costs £80.
What is the deadline to apply under the settlement scheme?
Assuming that the UK leaves the EU with a deal in place, applications for settled status must be made by 30 June 2021. If there is a no-deal Brexit, applications must be made by 31 December 2020.
You may lose your rights as a UK resident if you do not submit your settled status application before the deadline. It is also worth bearing in mind, that if a no-deal Brexit occurs, your rights as a UK citizen may not be guaranteed from the date of Brexit even if this happens before the deadline.
*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.