Frequently Asked Questions
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Applying for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
EU Settlement Scheme FAQs - Disclaimer
These answers are for guidance only. Please consult official sources and seek legal advice to discuss personal circumstances. The3million is not OISC accredited and is unable to advise on personal circumstances.
See here for more detail and some useful contacts.
If you want to learn more about the Settlement Scheme, the difference between Pre-Settled and Settled Status and your rights under this Scheme, please consult this document.
Your Europe: EU Nationals in the UK (contains lots of links to other guidance and q&a documents from the European Commission)
EU Settlement Resolution Centre - Webform: eu-settled-status-enquiries.service.gov.uk/start or call 0300 123 7379 between Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm (See call charges)
UKVI Resolution Centre Call 0300 790 6268 or from outside the UK: +44 (0)203 875 4669 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm (See call charges)
Charity / community organisations - the Home Office has funded charity / voluntary organisations to assist vulnerable applicants with their EUSS applications for free, search on: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-community-support-for-vulnerable-citizens
Identity Scanning Locations - search here for a list of Local Authority locations. (Note that some may still be closed due to COVID-19 so if you can’t use your mobile devices to scan your documents, you may need to send your Identity documents by post)
Assisted Digital Service - call 03333 445 675 or text “VISA” to 07537 416 944
There are many organisations and individuals providing advice on citizenship. In the UK, all immigration advice is regulated, so please make sure you go to someone who is qualified to give you advice on this area of law. On the ILPA website, you can find a directory of members to find an immigration advisor near your area: https://ilpa.org.uk.
I have missed the EU Settlement Scheme deadline, am I too late to apply for settled or pre-settled status?
Although the deadline of June 30 2021 has passed, late applications can still be made. You will not have rights in the UK until you receive a Certificate of Application. See a summary of rights affected at: https://www.the3million.org.uk/rights-table.
The EU Settlement Scheme has made provision for late applications to be made by EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family who can show they have reasonable grounds for missing the deadline.
Please note, that family members not currently in the UK wishing to join their EU family members in the UK can do so following the Family Permit Route or by directly applying to the EU Settlement Scheme as a joining family member. The June 30 2021 deadline does not apply to these applications though they should apply within 90 days of their arrival in the UK if they enter the UK with an EUSS Family Permit. For more information see this Gov.uk family-permit link and our FAQ on Family Reunion
Some examples of reasonable grounds and more information on how to apply and provide evidence of your reasonable grounds can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-information-for-late-applicants/eu-settlement-scheme-information-for-late-applicants
The AIRE Centre has published a useful guide on How to submit a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme
When should I apply for settled status if I already have pre-settled status?
It is very important you apply for settled status, through a new application, before your pre-settled status expires.
If you wait until your pre-settled status expires you may lose your right to live in the UK if there is any delay or issue in processing your application.
We strongly recommend that you apply for settled status as soon as you are eligible, which is as soon as you have 5 years’ residence in the UK.
Settled status is a more secure status.
Settled status allows longer absences from the UK before status is lost than pre-settled status.
Settled status holders face fewer barriers to being eligible to welfare benefits than those with pre-settled status.
With pre-settled status, a prison sentence of any length will break continuity of residence meaning you will lose the ability to change from pre-settled to settled status.
See also this document for more details of the difference of the two statuses.
When you receive your decision email from the Home Office, the PDF attached to the email will explicitly mention which status you have. If you have pre-settled status, it will indicate the day your status expires. If you log into View & Prove, you can also see which status you have, and your expiry date if you have pre-settled status.
If you reach 5 years’ residence before it expires, you can apply for settled status before your pre-settled status expires. For example, if you have been in the UK since 2017 and you received pre-settled status in 2019, then your pre-settled status expires in 2024. However, if you continue to live in the UK, you will reach 5 years’ residence in 2022, at which point you can apply for settled status.
With pre-settled status, it is important not to break your continuity of residence. This means you cannot be out of the UK for more than 6 months in any 12-month period (with some exceptions allowed for ‘important reasons’ and Coronavirus related absences - see here ). Your 5 years’ continuity of residence must have started before 31 December 2020.
What does ‘continuous residence’ or ‘continuity of residence’ mean?
Continuous residence, or continuity of residence, simply means living in the UK. However, too much absence from the UK can break continuity of residence.
The rules are different depending on whether you are applying to the EU Settlement Scheme, or for British citizenship.
EU Settlement Scheme:
To be eligible for settled status, you usually need to have been ‘continuously resident’ for at least 5 years. If you have been ‘continuously resident’ for less than 5 years, you will instead be eligible for pre-settled status (as long as you fulfil all other eligibility requirements).
You are allowed six months’ absence (with some exceptions*) from the UK out of any 12 month period before breaking your continuous residence.
‘Six months’ actually translates to 180 days, rather than six calendar months.
The ‘out of any 12 month period’ is trickier to calculate than you might think, because you really do have to look at any 12 month period, not just checking each calendar year. For example, if you are away for 4 months between August and November in one year, and then 3 months from February to April the next, you might think that you didn’t break your continuity of residence. Unfortunately you did, because you were away for 7 months between July of the first year and July of the second.
To help you calculate your greatest total absence in any rolling 12-month period, we have created an ‘absence calculator’ for you. Click here to see the calculator and find out more about absences.
* Longer absences are allowed for some specific reasons (some examples are pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, compulsory military services). The Home Office has updated their Covid-19 guidance for the EU Settlement Scheme, which includes concessions for longer COVID related absences not breaking continuity of residence in some cases, and allowing people to apply for a further grant of pre-settled status where necessary to achieve five years’ continuous residence. For full details, see the definition of “Continuous qualifying period” in the EU Settlement Scheme caseworker guidance.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless you are applying to the EU Settlement Scheme as a joining family member, your eligibility for (pre-)settled status depends on continuous residence which needs to have started before 31 December 2020.
ONCE YOU HAVE BEEN GRANTED SETTLED STATUS: You then no longer need to maintain ‘continuous residence’ as described above. You will be able to leave the UK for up to five years without losing your settled status (see this FAQ for more details).
See this question on allowance absences when applying for British citizenship. The requirements are stricter than for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Do you need Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) for settled status?
No. The CSI requirement was scrapped for EU Settlement Scheme applications.
To apply for pre-settled or settled status, you do not need to demonstrate that you are in one of the ‘qualified person’ categories (worker, self-employed, jobseeker, self-sufficient with CSI or student with CSI).
The EU Settlement Scheme checks for your residence in the UK.
To be eligible for settled status, you you usually need evidence that you had been living in the UK for at least 6 months out of every 12 months for a continuous period of 5 years, and this period started before 31 December 2020. For more information see: https://www.the3million.org.uk/absence-calculator
Does pre-settled status automatically convert to settled status?
No. And it is very important you renew your status before it expires.
Pre-settled status is limited leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme. It allows you to continue living and working in the UK for 5 years, after which it expires.
When you receive your decision email from the Home Office, the PDF attached to the email will explicitly mention which status you have. If you have pre-settled status, it will indicate the day your status expires.
You absolutely must re-apply before your status expires.
If you reach 5 years' residence before it expires, you can apply for settled status before your pre-settled status expires. For example, if you have been in the UK since 2017 and you received pre-settled status in 2019, then if you live continuously in the UK until 2022 you will be able to apply for settled status before your pre-settled status expires in 2024.
It is important not to break your continuity of residence. This means you cannot be out of the UK for more than 6 months in any 12-month period (with some exceptions allowed for ‘important reasons’ and Coronavirus related absences - see here ). Your 5 years’ continuity of residence must have started before 31 December 2020.
Can you continue to work in the UK indefinitely with settled status without applying for citizenship?
Yes. Settled status is a form of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
The difference is what happens if you leave the UK for an extended period. If you have settled status, but later decide to work in another country, you will lose your settled status if you are abroad for 5 years without returning to the UK. (See also this FAQ on settled status 5-year absences)
What are the consequences of not applying for settled or pre-settled status?
The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021 (unless you are applying as a joining family member). If you did not apply by the deadline, you will no longer have a provable lawful residence status in the UK. You will now face the hostile environment policies and may find it increasingly more difficult or impossible to rent a property, access work, welfare or other services.
You may still be able to submit a late application - see our FAQ on late applications.
How secure is settled status?
We heard many EU citizens applying for British citizenship (see this FAQ for costs and benefits) for the reason they do not feel secure with settled status, or because they do not receive physical proof of their settled status. There can be changes to the legislation underpinning the EU Settlement Scheme, although these should not remove rights guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement. Settled status can also be lost if you are abroad for more than 5 years, for example. (See also this FAQ on settled status 5-year absences)
What work is left to advocate for on the EU Settlement Scheme?
Currently, the3million is focussing on campaigning for a legal safety bridge between the end of freedom of movement and the UK’s new immigration system. We are seeking clarification about what will happen to the EU citizens whom the Home Office failed to reach before the deadline. We are campaigning to get physical proof of status. We are also seeking to achieve residence-based local election voting rights for England and Northern Ireland, just as Scotland and Wales have done. You can read more about our campaign goals here: https://www.the3million.org.uk/goals
As part of our campaign for physical proof of status, we are collecting evidence of problems with digital status. If you have experienced any problems, or know someone else who has, please help us to help everyone by filling in our form at: https://www.the3million.org.uk/report-it
How long can I be outside the UK with (pre-) settled status and not lose my status, or the opportunity to apply for settled status?
With pre-settled status, you lose your status if you leave the UK for a period of 2 consecutive years, whereas with settled status you can be away for 5 years. (See also this FAQ on settled status 5-year absences).
However, if you want to apply for settled status eventually (once you complete five years of residence), you will need to maintain your continuous residence in the UK. Usually, if you spend more than 6 months outside of the UK, you will lose your continuous residence. However, due to the pandemic, there are exceptions to how long you are allowed to stay outside of the UK without breaking your continuous residence. For more information on what the rules are, please read here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-eu-settlement-scheme-guidance-for-applicants#above1
To check whether you will still be eligible to apply for settled status in due course, read the ‘continuous residence’ FAQ.