EU Settlement Scheme
Table of Contents
Are you a citizen of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland currently living in the United Kingdom?
If so, you and your family members can make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the United Kingdom beyond the 30th of June 2021. A successful application will result in ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled status’.
So, the question is:
When can you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and what are the fees? In fact, applying for settled status is free of charge and the scheme is now open for applications.
Check if You Need to Apply
You do not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have British citizenship, Irish citizenship (includes ‘dual citizenship‘), or indefinite leave to enter or remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom.
Before the UK Joined the EU
What if you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen who moved to the United Kingdom before it became part of the EU (1st of January 1973)?
If so, only people without indefinite leave to remain would need to apply. As a rule, a stamp in your passport (or letter from the Home Office) would confirm you have indefinite leave to remain.
Note: The EEA includes the EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The guidance on settled status for EU citizens and their families is also available in 26 European languages via GOV.UK.
The term ‘frontier worker’ refers to someone who works in the United Kingdom but does not live in this country. Frontier workers do not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status).
Note: The Home Office provides guidance explaining how to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as the family member of a frontier worker.
Exempt from Immigration Control
Individuals who are exempt from immigration control cannot apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. As a result, no action is required to continue living in the United Kingdom (as long as the exemption from immigration control remains in force).
In general, people who are exempt from immigration control will be (either):
- Members of NATO.
- Foreign diplomats (posted in the United Kingdom).
Note: You would usually get 90 days to apply to the scheme if you stop being exempt (e.g. change profession). The Home Office will accept an application after the deadline (30th of June 2021) providing you lived in the UK before the 31st of December 2020.
EU Settlement Scheme Eligibility Criteria
So, who needs to apply for the scheme? As a general rule, you need to make an application to stay in the United Kingdom if you are (either):
- An EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen.
- Not an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, but your family member is (see the link below).
The new rules on settled status UK EU citizens mean you will still need to apply even in cases where you:
- Already have a ‘UK permanent residence document‘ (see details below for the process).
- Are a family member of an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen who does not need to apply (including those from Ireland).
- Are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen with a British citizen family member.
- Were born in the United Kingdom but do not have British citizenship (you can check if you’re a British citizen in another section).
Application for Non EU, EEA or Swiss Citizens
In some cases, people who are not EU, EEA or Swiss citizens may be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, such as when you are:
- A family member of a British citizen and you lived ‘together’ outside of the United Kingdom in one of the EEA countries.
- A family member of a British citizen with EU, EEA, or Swiss citizenship and they lived in the United Kingdom as an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen before they attained British citizenship.
- Someone who had an EU, EEA, or Swiss family member who was living in the United Kingdom but they have since become separated from you or they died.
- The primary carer for either a British, EU, EEA, or a Swiss citizen.
- The child of an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen who lived and worked in the United Kingdom (or you are the child’s primary carer).
You can read further guidance about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status) on the GOV.UK website if you are not an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen (e.g. a
What Settled and Pre-settled Status Means
A successful application to the UK EU Settlement Scheme means you will be able to continue living and working in the United Kingdom after the 30th of June 2021.
As a result, you will be granted (either):
- Settled status
- Pre-settled status
Applicants do not need to choose between the two statuses during the application process. The length of time spent living in the United Kingdom (when applying) will determine the status given (and rights).
Important: The rights and the status of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens living in the United Kingdom remain unchanged until the 30th of June 2021.
If You’re Granted Settled Status
As a rule, applicants will get settled status if they:
- Started living in the United Kingdom no later than the 31st of December 2020.
- Have five years of ‘continuous residence’ (e.g. lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period).
To qualify for five years’ continuous residence, you must have been in the UK, Channel Islands, or Isle of Man for at least six (6) months in any twelve (12) month period and for five (5) years in a row.
There are several exceptions to this rule:
- One (1) period of up to twelve (12) months for an important reason (examples include childbirth, a severe illness, study, an overseas work posting, or vocational training).
- Compulsory military service (for any length of time).
- Time spent abroad as a Crown servant (or the family member of a Crown servant).
- Time spent abroad serving in the armed forces (or the family member of someone in the armed forces).
Getting settled status means you can stay in the United Kingdom for an indefinite period. You might also qualify to apply for British citizenship.
If You’re Granted Pre-settled Status
You are more likely to get pre-settled status if you do not have five (5) years of continuous residence at the time you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Even so, you would need to have started living in the United Kingdom no later than the 31st of December 2020 to get it.
You will be able to change to settled status once you have 5 years’ continuous residence. But, you would need to make the change before the expiry date of your pre-settled status.
You might reach five years of continuous residence by the 31st of December 2020. If so, you can choose to delay the application (e.g. avoid applying for pre-settled status beforehand).
Getting pre-settled status means you can stay in the United Kingdom for a further five (5) years from the date that the Home Office approves it for you.
Your Rights for Settled and Pre-settled Status
The rights you get with settled or pre-settled status include being able to:
- Work in the United Kingdom.
- Use the National Health Service for free (e.g. be exempt from NHS charges for foreign nationals).
- Enrol in education or continue studying.
- Get access to public funds that you have entitlement to (e.g. welfare benefits and pensions).
- Travel to and from countries outside the United Kingdom.
Spending Time Outside the UK
You can spend up to five (5) consecutive years overseas of the United Kingdom if you have settled status – without losing your status.
You can spend a maximum of two (2) consecutive years outside the UK if you have pre-settled status – without losing your status. But, you would need to maintain ‘continuous residence’ to qualify for settled status.
Note: Swiss citizens, and their family members, can spend up to four (4) consecutive years outside the United Kingdom without losing settled status.
Having Children after Applying to the Scheme
If your children are born in the UK while you’re living here with settled status, they will be British citizens by automatic process.
Children born in the United Kingdom would get automatic qualification for pre-settled status – if you have pre-settled status. But, they would need to qualify through their other parent to be a British citizen.
Bringing Family Members to the United Kingdom
Close family members will be able to join you in the UK if it happens before the 31st of December 2020. The date extends to the 31st of December 2025 for spouses and civil partners of Swiss citizens.
But, after arriving in the United Kingdom, they would need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in the normal way.
What if you cannot bring a family member to the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme? In this case, they may be able to come using a different method (e.g. getting family visas).
Bringing Family Members after 31st December 2020
Citizens of an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, can bring close family members to the UK after the 31st of December 2020 if (both):
- The relationship you have with them began prior to the 31st of December 2020.
- You still have the same relationship with them when they apply to join you in the UK.
Swiss citizens can bring a spouse or civil partner to the UK up to the 31st of December 2025 if (both):
- The relationship you have with them started between the 31st of December 2020 and the 31st of December 2025.
- You still have the same relationship with them when they apply to join you in the United Kingdom.
Note: What if a family member joins you from the 1st of April 2021? If so, they would need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme within three (3) months of the date they arrived in the United Kingdom.
Documentation Required for an Application
The two main documents that you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme are the ones that show proof of:
- Your identity (e.g. a national identity card).
- Your residence in the United Kingdom (e.g. permanent residence documents for EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens or a valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK).
Note: You are going to need to provide the same proof when you make an application to change pre-settled status to settled status.
Proving Your Identity
The document used to provide proof of identity can be a valid passport or a national identity card (plus a digital photograph that shows your face).
Applicants who are not EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens will be able to use (any):
- A valid passport
- Biometric residence card (also called a UK residence card)
- Biometric residence permit (BRP)
You should contact UK Visas and Immigration about your application (EU Settlement Resolution Centre) if you are unable to provide any of these documents as evidence of your identity.
The application process allow you to (either):
- Scan the document and upload a photograph using the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app (using an Android or iPhone 7 phone).
- Send the document by postal methods and upload a photograph using the online application (you can take the photo yourself).
Scanning the Document
If you are going to scan documents using your smartphone (or someone else’s) you will need (either):
- A UK-issued biometric residence card
- A valid EU, EEA, or Swiss passport (or a biometric ID card)
Sending Documents by Post
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will not receive your documents if you send them by post during the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).
Proving Continuous Residence
As a rule, you must provide proof of having lived in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man for at least six (6) months in any 12 month period for five (5) years in a row to apply for settled status.
The Home Office can make an automated check of residence (based on tax and benefit records) for most applicants who supply them with a valid National Insurance number.
A successful check means they would not need any other documents to prove residence (unless the data fails to prove you lived here for 5 years in a row).
You would need to submit photos or scans through the online application form (not by post) if the Home Office asks you to provide any extra supporting documentation.
Note: UKVI produce further guidance on how to provide evidence of UK residence if they are unable to confirm it through an automated check.
Checking for Criminal Convictions
The Home Office will check whether applicants (18 and older) have any criminal convictions. They need to know if they have committed serious or repeated crimes or pose a threat to safety and security.
Hence, you must declare any convictions that appear in your criminal record (including any that occurred in the United Kingdom or overseas).
Despite being checked against the UK’s crime databases, there is no legal requirement for you to declare (any):
What if You Have a Criminal Conviction?
Being convicted of a minor crime (e.g. certain types of road traffic offences) will not necessarily exclude you from getting settled or pre-settled status. Furthermore, some convictions will be decided upon using a case-by-case basis.
In most cases, you would need 5 years of continuous residence after leaving prison to meet the eligibility criteria for settled status in the United Kingdom.
How to Apply to EU Settlement Scheme
You will need to apply to stay in the United Kingdom before the 30th of June 2021 deadline. You can use a laptop, Android device, or an iPhone to apply online (providing you have an email address and a phone number).
The Home Office publishes information explaining how they use personal information in deciding whether to grant an application to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Note: The application process is taking longer than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Using the Online Service
The online service is not available to individuals who are not EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens if applying as the:
- Family member of a British citizen you lived with in Switzerland or an EU or EEA country.
- 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.
- Primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.
- Child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, and you are in education (or you are the child’s primary carer).
EU Settlement Scheme Application Fee
You do not have to pay for the EU Settlement Scheme. But, even though it is free, people who made a previous payment can get an application fee refund.
Contacting the EU Settlement Resolution Centre
Inside the United Kingdom
Telephone: 0300 123 7379
Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays): 8am to 8pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9:30am to 4:30pm
Outside the United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)203 080 0010
Organisations Helping Others Apply
Telephone: 0300 790 0566
Cost of making the call
You can use the online enquiries form to ask a question about applying for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You can also get Assisted Digital support with online Home Office applications.
If You Have Permanent Residence
When you are preparing to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, it is important to understand some key differences in the process for people with permanent residence documents or indefinite leave to enter or remain.
Applicants with a UK Permanent Residence Document
People who are holding a valid ‘UK permanent residence document’ will also have one of these:
- Biometric residence card that confirms permanent residence (for non EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens)
- Certificate fixed inside your passport
- Certificate inside the blue ‘residence documentation’ booklet (pink for Swiss nationals)
Documents with the phrase ‘registration certificate’ written on them will not be a permanent residence document.
Applicants from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland with a permanent residence document should see ‘Document Certifying Permanent Residence’ written on it.
Your biometric residence card should state ‘Permanent Residence Status’ if you are not an EU, EEA, or a Swiss citizen.
Here’s how it works:
To be able to continue living in the United Kingdom beyond the 30th of June 2021 deadline you will need to (either):
- Apply for British citizenship (before the 30th of June 2021).
- Make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme (proving 5 years of continuous residence is not a requirement).
Important: The European Economic Area (EEA) also includes the EU countries and Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.
Applicants with Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain
For the purpose of immigration and visa laws in the United Kingdom, the Home Office classes indefinite leave to enter or remain (ILR) as two different types of immigration status.
As a rule, people who applied for indefinite leave to enter or remain will have received a letter from the Home Office or will have a stamp in their passport.
You may have a ‘vignette’ (a type of sticker) or a biometric residence permit if you applied more recently.
Having indefinite leave to enter or remain means you can continue living in the United Kingdom without having to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. But, people who choose to apply will get settled status (indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme) providing they meet the other conditions.
This is important because it means you could spend up to five consecutive years outside the UK without losing settled status. Whereas, the limit is two years for those with an existing status of indefinite leave to enter or remain.
Note: Swiss citizens (and their family members) can spend up to four (4) years in a row outside of the United Kingdom without losing settled status.
Did You Move to the UK Before it Joined the EU?
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who lived in the UK before January 1973 may have received ILR by automatic process. If this applies to you, there is no requirement for you to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay here after June 2021.
If you are one of these individuals without a document that confirms your ILR status, you will be able to (either):
- Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)
- Apply for the necessary documentation for free under the Windrush Scheme (including people from Cyprus or Malta)
The transition period allows the UK and the EU to negotiate further arrangements on trade, travel, and business. As a result, new UK rules and regulations will take full effect from the 1st of January 2021.
EU Settlement Scheme for Your Child
If you are applying for settled or pre-settled status for your child (or they apply themselves), they must be under 21 years old and (either):
- An EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen.
- Not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen but you are (or your spouse or civil partner is).
If You Already Applied to the Scheme
People who have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme can use their unique application number to ‘link’ their child’s application to it. Furthermore, there is no need for them to wait for a decision before linking the two applications together.
If your child does not have an email address you will be able to use your own for communication. Upon completion, your child will get the same status as you (assuming your application is successful).
Important: You must follow the same process for each child when you apply for EU Settlement Scheme for children.
Proof of Your Relationship to the Child
In most cases, you do not need to provide proof of your child’s residence in the United Kingdom. But, you will need to provide some proof of the relationship.
If You Have Not Yet Applied to the Scheme
You may find it simpler to start your own application before applying for your child – if you have not yet applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Doing so means you avoid having to provide proof that your child has 5 years of continuous residence for settled status. Otherwise, your child will need to provide the evidence if they apply themselves.
In case you were wondering:
What if a child does not have five years’ continuous residence when they apply? If not, they would usually only get pre-settled status. Even so, they would have to be living in the United Kingdom by the 31st of December 2020.
The child would be able to stay in the UK for a further five (5) years from the date that the Home Office grants them pre-settled status.
You can make an application to change pre-settled to settled status once they have completed five years of continuous residence (before the pre-settled status expires).
You can choose to wait until they meet the continuous residence before applying if they will reach it by the 31st of December 2020. So, a successful application would result in settled status without having to get pre-settled status beforehand.
What if you do not meet the eligibility criteria for the EU Settlement Scheme, but your child does (e.g. you do not live in the UK but your child does)?
If this applies to your situation, you can still apply for the child as long as you can provide proof of their UK residence.
Are You an Irish Citizen?
As an Irish citizen, there is no need for you to apply for settled or pre-settled status. But, Irish citizens with children who are not British citizens will qualify for (either):
- Settled or pre-settled status (based on their own residence).
- The same status that you are eligible for (based on how long you lived in the United Kingdom).
Note: Follow the information and guidance in the section above to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme for your child.
What if You Stop Working or Retire?
This section explains what happens if you stop working (e.g. reach State Pension age) or start working in an EU country. Check how you may get settled status with less than 5 years of continuous residence.
If You Stop Working or Being Self-employed
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens may get settled status due to ‘permanent incapacity’. In short, it means you must stop working or stop being self-employed because of a severe accident or illness.
You may qualify if (either):
- You lived continuously in the United Kingdom for two (2) years immediately before the accident or illness occurred.
- Permanent incapacity occurred due to an accident at work or an occupational disease entitling you to a pension from a UK institution.
Settled status may also be available if you are married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen.
In some cases, the family members of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens (when they stopped working) may also meet the eligibility criteria for getting settled status.
Reaching State Pension Age or Retiring Early
Citizens of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland may get settled status after they reach UK State Pension age or they retire early.
Likewise, family members of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens (at the time they reach State Pension age or retire early) may also get settled status.
Once You Reach State Pension Age
To get settled status, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens need to have stopped working after reaching UK State Pension age and (either):
- Have a spouse or civil partner who is a British citizen.
- Worked continuously or be self-employed for one (1) year beforehand and lived continuously in the United Kingdom for three (3) years.
If You Retire Early
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens can get settled status even if they retired early as long as they (either):
- Have a spouse or civil partner who is a British citizen.
- Worked continuously (not self employed) for one (1) year beforehand and lived continuously in the United Kingdom for three (3) years.
Starting Work or Self-employment in an EU Country
Citizens of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland may get settled status if they start work or self-employment in one of the EU countries and (both):
- Usually return to their home in the United Kingdom at least once a week.
- Lived and worked (or have been self-employed) in the United Kingdom continuously for three (3) years beforehand.
Likewise, family members of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens (at the time they start work or self-employment in an EU country) may also get settled status.
After You Apply for EU Settlement Status
It is important to understand how the process works after you applied. Successful applicants will receive a letter by email confirming their status (e.g. settled or pre-settled). But, the letter alone does not prove your status.
How to View and Prove Your Status
You will be able to view and prove your settled or pre-settled status (e.g. if someone else needs to see it) online via the GOV.UK website. It is not a physical document.
Non EU, EEA, and Swiss Citizens
Unless you already have a biometric residence card, you will get a physical document if you are a person from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.
Another section explains how to apply for a UK residence card and how it works. But, the document used for the EU Settlement Scheme only proves your rights for the United Kingdom.
If you want to accompany or join an EU, EEA, or Swiss family member in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you would need to apply for (either):
- A UK biometric residence card.
- A visa applicable for the relevant country (there is no charge for this).
You can still use your passport, national identity card (for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens), or biometric residence document to prove your rights in the United Kingdom up to the 30th of June 2021.
How to Update EU Settlement Scheme Details
You must keep the details that you used to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme up to date, including things like your:
- Name and UK address
- Mobile phone number
- Email address
- Passport (e.g. a new identity document)
The Home Office will contact you if they find a mistake in your application or need extra evidence. Hence, you would need to correct the error before they make a final decision.
Applying for British Citizenship
In most cases, you can apply for citizenship if you have indefinite leave to remain or ‘settled status’ after a period of twelve (12) months from when you got settled status.
What if the Application is Unsuccessful?
You have until the 30th of June 2021 to apply again if your application is unsuccessful (e.g. you expected to get settled status but got pre-settled status).
There is no charge to make a second application to the EU Settlement Scheme and you may submit any new relevant information or evidence.
Applying for an Administrative Review
You can apply for an administrative review if you feel they made a mistake with your application. There is a fee (around £80) and it will take up to four weeks to get the result.
They will refund your money if they change the original decision because of an error (unless the change is based on new evidence you supply).
Appealing a Decision
You can appeal against a visa or immigration decision (e.g. at an independent tribunal). But, only against applications made after 11pm on the 31st of January 2020.
Outstanding Immigration Applications
As a general rule, having an outstanding immigration application means the Home Office will not consider your application for the EU Settlement Scheme and they would refund your fee.
Note: UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) issue further guidance for caseworkers considering applications under the EU Settlement Scheme.