Frequently Asked Questions

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Other rights under the Withdrawal Agreement

Other resources

Useful resources:


Immigration Assistance:


  • 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)

  • Postcode finder - to find closest charity / voluntary organisation https://www.gov.uk/help-eu-settlement-scheme

  • 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

  • Settled is a charity providing free immigration advice to EU citizens. You can contact them here: http://settled.org.uk/contact

  • Here for Good, free advice for vulnerable EU citizens, see https://www.hereforgoodlaw.org/get-advice

  • 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.

What is the current situation with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI)?

On 10 March 2022, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling which says that where people had access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), they met the requirement for Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI).


Just a few weeks earlier, the Government had introduced an amendment to the Nationality and Borders bill, as a result of our campaign, and your letter writing to fix the CSI legacy.


We have now seen a message from the Home Office to the Immigration Law Practioner’s Association (ILPA), dated 21 March 2022 (our emphasis):


“I wanted to update you on the nationality provisions in the Nationality and Borders Bill. The Bill has just completed Third Reading in the Lords and will return to the Commons this week.


I wanted to flag the new provision we have introduced on lawful residence, and to offer to answer any questions you may have.


The new clause relates to naturalisation applications for British citizenship under sections 6(1) or 6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981, and applications to register as a British citizen under section 4(2), all of which have requirements that the person should not have been in breach of immigration laws during the residential “qualifying period”.


The lawful residence requirement has been a cause of concern for EEA nationals who were granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) under the EU Settlement Scheme, but had been resident here as students or self-sufficient persons without Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.  As you know, the 1981 Act includes limited discretion to overlook periods of unlawful residence in the UK, and our guidance includes such persons in the examples of when we would normally expect to exercise discretion.  However, that discretion can only be used in the special circumstances of a particular case and so caseworkers often need to ask for further information.  Although no applications have been refused because a person did not have CSI, we are aware that our existing guidance does not give the reassurance that some EEA nationals and their family members would want.


The amendment is intended to benefit all applicants and not just those who acquired ILR under the EU Settlement Scheme. It will mean the Home Secretary does not have to enquire into lawful residence at all where the applicant has ILR or indefinite leave to enter (ILE), however it was acquired. This will, of course, avoid us looking at periods of residence already considered in earlier applications.


We believe the change will additionally provide the certainty which people have asked for; will end the confusion over differing requirements between EUSS and nationality; will reduce the evidence required to be supplied with an application to begin with; and will aid the processing of cases in a fair and sensible manner.


You may have seen that the wording of the amendment is to “allow the Secretary of State to treat a person who has indefinite leave to enter or remain as meeting certain residence requirements”. This recognises that there may be exceptional cases when we chose not to do so. This might, for example, be in cases where new information comes to light that would have affected the original ILR/ILE decision had it been known at the time. However, this is expected to be a very rare occurrence.


The good character guidance will be amended in line with this change, and so that personal immigration transgressions for those already granted ILR or ILE similarly do not lead to an application failing solely on that basis.  But it is only personal immigration history which may be overlooked: issues such as criminality will still be considered. Equally, we will still be assessing the length of absences from the UK during the residential qualifying period.


We will, of course, update guidance and application forms to reflect the change of approach in due course, and hope to be able to share our draft guidance on the new routes with you following Royal Assent.”


It is not yet clear how the UK Government will deal with the European Court of Justice ruling, but this will likely affect many areas including nationality, naturalisation, registration, access to benefits and more.


In the meantime, if you believe you are affected, or you have suffered loss because of past decisions where the Home Office said you did not meet the CSI requirement, please see our campaign-page https://www.csi-justice.org.uk.

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

What is the situation on pensioners’ rights in the UK? Do you lose access to your pension because of absences?

Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement is all about citizens’ rights, and it is divided into different ‘Titles’. 


Title II covers residence rights and conditions that the EU Settlement Scheme must comply with. 


Title III is about social security coordination, and this includes pension rights, healthcare and social security rights. 


Title III covers a wider range of people than Title II, as it includes citizens who are in a situation involving both the UK and one or more EU member states, whether now or in the past. Even if you have settled status now, and then leave the UK to go and live in an EU country for more than five years, you will still have UK pension rights protected. 


This is a complex area - the European Commission Guidance Note provides examples of how people are covered.


The Government has also published staff guidance which gives many helpful examples.

What happens with my family reunification rights post-Brexit?

If you have settled or pre-settled status, you have family reunion rights, which means you will be able to be joined by certain EU or non-EU family members in the future. This includes your spouse or registered partner(as long as they were already your spouse or registered partner at the end of the transition period, 31 Dec 2020 - ot 31 Dec 2025 if you, as the sponsor, are a Swiss citizen), your or your spouse/partner’s direct descendants who are under the age of 21 or dependants, and your or your spouse/partner’s direct relatives in the ascending line (parents, grandparents etc).

Article 10 of the Withdrawal Agreement has a list of eligible family members who can apply to join you in the UK. From 1 January 2021, family members who want to join you in the UK must apply to enter the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. This can be done in two ways - applying for a family  permit before you come to the UK, or apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK. See https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status.


Applying for a family permit

Your family member can apply for an EUSS family permit online. When they have been granted their family permit, they can travel to the UK to join you. Once in the UK, they will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme within three months of arrival.

More information on family permits can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/family-permit/eu-settlement-scheme-family-permit


Applying from outside the UK

Citizens with EEA/Swiss passports/national identity cards with biometric chips, or citizens from other countries with valid UK-issued biometric cards can apply directly for pre-settled status or settled status before they travel to the UK.

They will have to wait until their (pre-)settled status is granted before they can move to live in the UK with you. See https://www.the3million.org.uk/rights-enter-uk for more information.


Note: if you are hoping to make use of your family reunification rights in the future, and you are thinking about applying for British citizenship, then you may wish to seek legal advice if you have gaps in your past where you should have had, but didn’t have, Comprehensive Sickness Insurance. Unfortunately there are some complex circumstances in the Immigration Rules in which naturalising as a British citizen may result in the loss of family reunification rights.


Also note that unmarried partners need to show that they have been in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years. These cases can become complex and the help of a legal adviser is recommended.



Are voting rights protected as part of the Withdrawal Agreement?

No. However, the Government has said that EU citizens who lived in the UK before 31 December 2020, and who have pre-settled or settled status, will retain their local election voting rights.  For EU citizens who arrive after 1 January,  local election voting rights are currently being negotiated bilaterally. The only agreements the UK has reached so far are with Portugal, Luxembourg, Spain and Poland. At the3million we are campaigning for residence based voting rights for all migrants with leave to remain, as Wales and Scotland have done.


NOTE: EU citizens cannot vote in the UK’s general elections - except citizens from Ireland, and from those EU member states who are also members of the Commonwealth, namely Malta and Cyprus.


You can read more about our campaign here: https://www.the3million.org.uk/our-home-our-vote

I have pre-settled / settled status. Will I be able to use an EHIC card when I visit other EU countries?

Yes, you and your family members (of any nationality including British), will be entitled to use an EHIC card since you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.


A form of continuing reciprocal healthcare has been agreed with the EU. Current EHIC cards will remain valid until their expiry date. Those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (and their families) will be able to apply for a new EHIC card. Whereas others will be able to apply for a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) when their current EHIC cards expire.


For more information, see here on the Schengen Visa information website.


For more details, and to apply for an EHIC or GHIC, see here on the NHS website.


If you are traveling, and you need treatment but have been unable to obtain an EHIC or GHIC card, you can contact Overseas Healthcare Services.


The Government has published staff guidance which gives helpful examples of EHIC entitlement.

I am a British-EU dual national, will I be able to use an EHIC card when I visit other EU countries?

It depends on whether you exercised treaty rights before naturalising to become British. If you have, then you and your family members (of any nationality including British), will be entitled to use an EHIC card since you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.


If you are under 21, or a dependent child over 21, then even if you were born in the UK and did not exercise treaty rights before becoming British you can still be eligible as a family member if your parent or carer is eligible for an EHIC card.


If you are not eligible to apply for a new EHIC card, you will still be able to use your existing EHIC card until it expires - after which you can apply for a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card).


For more information, see here on the Schengen Visa information website.


For more details, and to apply for an EHIC or GHIC, see here on the NHS website.


If you are traveling, and you need treatment but have been unable to obtain an EHIC or GHIC card, you can contact Overseas Healthcare Services.


The Government has published staff guidance which gives helpful examples of EHIC entitlement.

I have dual British-EU citizenship, so cannot apply for settled status. Am I covered by the Withdrawal Agreement as a dual national?

If you exercised free movement rights before naturalising as a British citizen, then you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. You will have family reunion rights and rights under social security coordination.


However if you never exercised free movement rights - for example you were born in the UK with both your British and your EU nationality, then you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.


Helpful documents to explain this: European Commission Guidance Note, European Commission Q&A, UK Government guidance on social security coordination.

Would the requirement for employers to pay to hire European citizens apply in case of employees with settled/pre-settled status?

The requirement to apply for a work visa, and for your employer to have a sponsorship licence, only applies for new arrivals from 1 January 2021, who do not qualify to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as joining family members.


Therefore it will not affect EU citizens resident in the UK before this date, or to those who arrive later but are eligible to apply for (pre-)settled status as joining family members.

You can continue to work and change jobs freely if you have (pre-) settled status.

I already have ILR. Do I need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status?

If you have proof of your ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain), you do not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.


However, you will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if you do not apply, which means you will lose your ILR after a 2-year absence from the UK. People with Settled Status on the other hand only lose their status after a 5-year absence from the UK. There are some other differences such as family reunion rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.


If you came to the UK before 1989, but you do not have ILR or have lost your evidence of ILR, then you and your children can choose to apply to the Windrush Scheme to get ILR - if you do not want to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.


This page https://www.the3million.org.uk/windrush shows more details, and also contains a table of the difference in rights between ILR and Settled Status.