Can I reset the clock by extending pre-settled status after an absence of more than six months?
You can only apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme if you have ‘continuous residence’ which started before* 31 December 2020. Continuous residence is generally (there are some narrow exceptions) broken by absences totalling more than six months in any 12-month period**. If your continuous residence was ‘paused’ due to a long COVID-19 related absence, and you need to extend your pre-settled status expiry, then you can apply for a fresh pre-settled status. Check the guidance carefully and take advice if necessary.
If continuous residence was broken before 31 December 2020, you may have a chance to reset the clock by applying for a fresh pre-settled status, if you returned to the UK before 31 December 2020 to ‘reset’ your residence.
However, if your continuous residence is broken after 1 January 2021, you will not be able to reset the clock, since you will not be eligible to apply for settled status, nor to apply for fresh pre-settled status in future.
* With some exceptions for certain family members who can come to the UK later and apply to the EU Settlement if their relative holds pre-settled or settled status.