What is the EU Settlement Scheme and what is the difference between settled and pre-settled status?
The EU Settlement Scheme is to be used by those EU, non-EU EEA, Swiss citizens, and their eligible family members who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020, to formalise their immigration rights now that EU free movement rights no longer apply in the UK. The Settlement Scheme offers the opportunity to protect their residence and rights in the UK. Eligible citizens had to apply to the scheme before 30 June 2021.
In short, settled status is an immigration status granted under the EU settlement scheme which allows individuals who have been in the UK for more than five years ’ ‘continuous residence’ (that started before 31 December 2020) to remain in the country indefinitely. Those who have not been in the UK for five years can apply for pre-settled status.
Pre-settled status is an immigration status granted under the EU settlement scheme which allows individuals (who arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020) to qualify to remain in the UK for a period of 5 years after it is granted. Before the 5 years elapse, you need to apply for settled status (when you qualify for it - which means you must have five years’ continuous residence that started before 31 December 2020) to be able to stay in the country. To be granted and keep your status, you need to be eligible and satisfy certain conditions, stipulated on the Government’s website.
Absences impact continuous residence. If you are in any doubt about your absences, and whether you should apply for a fresh Pre-Settled Status, see https://www.the3million.org.uk/absence-calculator
For a detailed comparison between the two, eligibility and conditions, have a look at this document put together by the3million.