UK immigration rules have been subject to extensive reform following Brexit and the end of EU freedom of movement. While the rights of most EU citizens and their relatives in the UK have not been immediately affected by the December 2020 reforms, from 30 June 2021 a number of rule changes will take effect and impact the rights and status of EU nationals to remain in the UK with lawful status.
UK residence cards
Prior to 2021, the residence card was a mandatory requirement for extended family members of EEA nationals to prove their immigration status. For direct family members of EEA nationals or Swiss nationals, it was not a legal requirement but helped to evidence to the holder’s right to work, to prove qualification for certain benefits and services and helped to speed up the process at the border of gaining entry back into the UK. Those with retained right of residence or making Surinder Singh application could also apply.
UK residence card applications are no longer being accepted.
The Home Office has stated that any applications submitted before 1 January 2021 would be processed within six months.
If you already have a residence card
If you already hold a UK residence card, this will remain valid until 30 June 2021.
Up until this date, you can continue to use the card – provided it has not expired. This includes travelling in and out of the UK without restriction and using the card as proof of your right to work in the UK or entitlement to certain benefits or services.
From 1 July 2021, you will no longer be able to use the card and must instead have registered successfully under the EU settlement scheme to retain lawful status in the UK.
If your residence card is lost, stolen or damaged, you will not be able to replace it. You will instead have to register for settled status.
Remaining in the UK after from 1 July 2021
If you are in the UK with a residence card, you must take action to retain your right to remain in the UK.
You should apply for EU settled status on the basis that you are either:
- are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- are a close family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, and you were both living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- are an ‘extended’ family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you have a UK residence card, or you applied for one by 31 December 2020
- are the family member of a British citizen – you must have lived with them in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, and they must have been working, studying or self-sufficient in the country
- have ‘retained rights of residence’ – for example if you were previously married to an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020
Applying for settled status
The application for settled status is made online. It is free of charge.
You will need to provide evidence that you have been resident in the UK for five years and that you were resident here by 31 December 2020.
If you cannot show five years’ continuous UK residence, you may be granted pre-settled status for up to five years. This period will enable you to attain the five-year residence and qualify for full settled status.
With settled status, you can also become eligible to apply for British citizenship.
DavidsonMorris are experienced in all aspects of Home Office EEA applications, including UK residence card applications. If you have any queries or require guidance, contact our immigration specialists.
Lasy updated: 1 January 2023