1. Home
  2. Insights

The EU Settlement Scheme: What it Means for EU Citizens Living and Working in the UK

The following information is for EU citizens as well as UK citizens who have family members who are an EU citizen living and working in the UK. 

Whilst we are still quite a while away from the final point that Britain officially leaves the European Union, we are now have more clarity on what this means for EU citizens who are living and working in the UK and their families.

Next steps for EU citizens living in the UK and their families following Brexit

This is a summary of the current advice and guidance that the Home Office is now sharing. Whilst there is plenty of time before any action needs to be taken where necessary, it is prudent that any EU citizens living in the UK or UK citizens who have non-British family members start to familiarise themselves with this guidance.

The following information is based on information released by the Home Office and is simply guidance. If you require detailed immigration advice, you should seek the expertise of an immigration specialist.

A new EU Settlement Scheme is being rolled out and you (and/or your family) may need to apply for the right to stay in the UK after December 2020. Anyone who will need to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme should note that the cost of the application is £65 for adults, £32.50 for children, and in some cases may be free. 

The EU Settlement Scheme will be phased in later this year and will be fully operational by end of March 2019.  For those people who are resident in the UK by 31st December 2020, the deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021 and their rights will remain unaffected until then. If you have received your settlement status under this scheme by that date, then your close family members may be able to make an application to join you after this date.

You will not need to apply if:

  • you’re an Irish citizen
  • you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • you have indefinite leave to enter the UK - for example, you have a Returning Resident visa

Rights for citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are still being negotiated.

Who is eligible?

- You need to be an EU citizen or a non-EU family member of an EU citizen*.

- You need to be a resident in the UK by 31 December 2020. If you have been a resident in the UK for more than 5 years you will be eligible for Settled Status. If you have been a resident for less than 5 years you are eligible for Pre-Settled Status.

- You must not be a serious or persistent criminal or a threat to national security.

What does “Settled Status” mean?

If you have Settled Status, also known as indefinite leave to remain in the UK, this means there is no time limit on how long you can stay in the UK. EU citizens who have been granted settled status will have the same access to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK according to the same rules as now.

To be eligible for Settled Status, you’ll usually need to:

  • Be an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU citizen
  • Have been living in the UK continuously for 5 years (‘continuous residence’)
  • Have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020

You will need to apply even if you are an EU citizen married to a British citizen.

If you leave the UK and return within five years, you can enter the UK and continue to live here as a settled person.

If you are absent from the UK for more than five consecutive years, your settled status will lapse.

If you have a child born in the UK after you are granted Settled Status, that child will be a British citizen.

Settled Status will run alongside any rights you have as an EU citizen under the EU Free Movement Directive, which runs until 31 December 2020.

What does “Pre-Settled Status” mean?

If you have Pre-Settled Status, also known as limited leave to remain in the UK, this means you can stay in the UK for a period of five years. This will allow you to remain in the UK until you are eligible for settled status, generally once you have lived continuously in the UK for five years.

EU citizens who have pre-settled status will have the same access to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK according to the same rules as now. Pre-settled status will run alongside any existing rights you have as an EU citizen under the EU Free Movement Directive, which run until 31 December 2020.

What does “Continuous Residence” mean?

You will need to have continuously been a resident in the UK for five consecutive years (less in some exceptional circumstances) to be eligible to get Settled Status straightaway. If you have been continuously a resident in the UK for less than five years you will be eligible for Pre-Settled Status, enabling you to stay until you have reached the five years generally needed to be eligible for Settled Status. If your continuous residence has been broken, time spent in the UK before the time it was broken cannot be counted.

Continuous residence generally means that - over five consecutive years - you have not been outside the UK for more than six months in total, in any 12-month period. There is no restriction on the number of times you can be outside the UK, provided that the total period of time outside the UK is not more than six months, in any 12-month period.

Where do I go for advice and further guidance?

For further information about what the Settlement Scheme might mean for you and your family the best place to start is on the Home Office Website: