What is the EU Settlement Scheme
Updated 11 January 2022.
If you are an EEA or Swiss citizen and were living in the UK by the end of 31 December 2020, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), to continue living in the UK after this date. If your application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status.
You must have arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020 to be eligible - if you arrived after this date, you will not be eligible and will need to apply for immigration permission under the relevant category at that time, such as a Student visa.
Settled or pre-settled status
Your eligibility for the EU Settlement Scheme is based on the length of time you have been living in the UK. To obtain settled status you will need to have lived continuously in the UK for five years. If you have less than five years’ continuous residence at the point you apply, you will be eligible for pre-settled status. You can then apply for settled status after you have lived in the UK continuously for five years.
Your rights with settled or pre-settled status
with settled status you can spend up to five years of continuous time out of the UK without losing your settled status
with pre-settled status can spend up to two years in a row outside the UK without losing your pre-settled status, but this time will not count towards the five years continuous residence if you later want to apply for settled status
with settled or pre-settled status you will have the same access as you currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK
with settled or pre-settled status you will be able to travel to and from the UK using a valid passport or (at least until 31 December 2025) a valid national identity card
close family members living overseas will still be able to join you here after the end of the implementation period, where the relationship existed on or before 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK. Future children are also protected
with settled status, you can usually apply for citizenship after having settled status for 12 months
Applying for the Settlement Scheme
When to apply
If you do not have settled or pre-settled status, the deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 (as long as you were residing in the UK by 31 December 2020). You may be able to apply late in some circumstances.
If you have been granted pre-settled status, you can apply for settled status even if your application is after 30 June 2021 once you have built up your five years' continuous residence in the UK. If you want to apply for settled status, you will need to submit an application before your pre-settled status expires.
The UK Government announced in Summer 2021 that it is currently providing temporary protection for more applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme and has put in place comprehensive arrangements to enable those with reasonable grounds for missing the deadline to apply to the EUSS.
The Government is also taking a similar approach with joining family members, who will have temporary protection for three months after their arrival in the UK and pending the outcome of an EUSS application made during that period (and of any appeal).
How to apply
The Settlement Scheme is delivered through a digital application process. Applications are made online, with documents (where required) and proof of ID provided by post, in person, or via an online app (please note the app only works with Android devices or the iPhone 8 and newer Apple models).
The Government has released full guidance and comprehensive step-by-step information on how to apply, including where to source your nearest location offering ID document scanning and how to get Assisted Digital support if required.
Applications are free of charge and you are not required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Where to apply
You can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme from inside the UK. Most applicants can also apply outside the UK. Applications outside the UK must be submitted through the online app as you cannot post your identity document to the UK to be verified.
You will need to have the following documents:
- current passport or national identity card with biometric chip
- proof of continuous residence
You are not required to show that you meet all the requirements of current free movement rules, such as any requirement to have held comprehensive sickness insurance or generally to detail the exercise of specific rights (e.g. the right to work) under EU law. The UK has decided, as a matter of domestic policy, that the main requirement for eligibility under the settlement scheme will be continuous residence in the UK.
Proving your continuous residence
The application form will ask for a National Insurance Number and complete an automated check to determine whether you are eligible for settled or pre-settled status.
If you do not have a National Insurance Number, or the automated check does not determine that you are eligible, there are other documents that you can use to demonstrate your continuous residency in the UK.
Documents can be photocopies or scans and don't need to be originals. The evidence does not need to cover your entire residence in the UK - just enough to show whether you qualify for settled or pre-settled status. Documents that only contain a single date will count as evidence for one month. Documents can be used to cover a longer period if they have a start and end date covering a period longer than a month.
Evidence that covers a longer period of time:
- a valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain document
- annual bank statements
- council tax bill
- degree certificate or yearly transcript
- rental agreement and evidence of payment
- student status letter
Important: please do not use a student status letter as sole proof of residence if you have not been residing in the UK before 1 January 2021. If you do, it is likely that you will be asked to provide further evidence of your arrival date in the UK.
Evidence that covers a shorter period of time:
- utility bill
- monthly bank statements
- letter from your GP
Covid-19-related absences and continuous residence
The Home Office have provided clarification on their definition of absences from the UK in relation to Covid-19. This will affect you if you are an EEA / Swiss student intending to apply for settled status and have been outside of the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you have been absent from the UK due to Covid-19, we would advise you to keep a copy of any evidence relating to this absence (e.g. doctor’s notes, emails of travel cancellations, screenshots from web pages showing confirmation of travel restrictions).
Broken continuous residence
If you broke your continuous residence but resumed living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you will be able to apply for settled status after 5 years of continuous residence. Your 5 years will start from when you re-entered the UK.
If you broke your continuous residence but did not resume your residency by 31 December 2020, you will likely not be eligible for settled status. In this case
- if you have pre-settled status, you will need a visa to study for 6 months or more, or to work in the UK, when your pre-settled status expires
- if you do not have pre-settled status, you will need a visa to study for 6 months or more or work in the UK before you come to the UK.
After your application is submitted
If the Home Office have any questions about your application or require any further evidence from you, they will contact you directly. Please make sure you check your emails (including junk mail) and phone calls regularly in case you need to provide any further information.
If your application is successful, a letter will be emailed to you from the Home Office confirming your settled or pre-settled status. You cannot use this letter to prove your status. The letter will contain a link to an online service that you can use to view and prove your status.
Keep your personal details up to date
If some of the initial details provided at the time of your Settlement Scheme application have changed, you will need to update these so you can view and prove your rights to others, for example employers or landlords.
Use the Government online service if you have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and you have changed your:
- mobile phone number
- email address
- identity document
- UK address
You must also use this service if you are waiting for a decision and you have changed your email address or phone number. If you do not provide the correct contact details you may not get your decision. Important: you cannot update your identity document or name if you are still waiting for your decision.
If you have got a new identity document you will need to send this in the post - you will be told where to send it after you have completed the online form.
Getting support from the Student Immigration Service
The Student Immigration Service is available to support you to submit your application under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Unfortunately, we are not currently able to offer full EU Settlement Scheme appointments. This is because this would involve both the adviser and student using one tablet to scan your documents and submit the application. It is not currently possible to do this with social distancing restrictions in place.
If you need support with your EU Settlement Scheme application, please book an Advice appointment (either virtual or in person). An adviser can talk through the requirements with you and discuss any issues you may have. If a longer appointment is needed, the adviser will arrange a time with you and book this for you during the Advice appointment.