I have settled status but left the UK. How long can I be away without losing my status?
With settled status, you have a five-year absence allowance (four years if you are Swiss), so as long as you come back within those five years, even for a brief period of time, you can ‘reset the clock’ on your settled status.
There is no definitive guidance on how long someone needs to return to the UK in order to reset their 'absence clock', but we have been informed that a simple visit back to the UK is sufficient.
On 14 May 2020, Seraphus Solicitors submitted written evidence to the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union. See their evidence, question ‘Settled Status grant Absences allowance’, which asks ‘If an ILR holder returns to the UK for 1 day within the 5 / 4 year allowance and leaves again, does the absence clock reset for another 5 /4 years?’ The Home Office replied to this question simply with ‘Yes’ – though we do not have a public link to these answers.
Obviously careful evidence must be retained of returning back to the UK, so that you can demonstrate you were never out of the UK for more than a continuous five years (or four years if you are Swiss).
Further information: Two slightly related question have been asked of the CJEU. Note, these are not about the UK situation.