What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
Freedom of movement between the UK and the EU officially ended on the 31st December 2020. EU citizens must now apply for a relevant UK visa to live, work or study in the United Kingdom.
The end of free movement has made it more difficult for EU citizens to move to the UK. However, the EU Settlement Scheme was created to secure the rights of EU citizens residing in the UK.
The rights of EU citizens living in the UK before the 1st January 2021 will remain the same until 30th June 2021.
Changes to the scheme in 2023, mean people with pre-settled status via the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have their pre-settled status extended by two years if they have not obtained settled status by the time their pre-settled status was due to expire.
Successful applicants for the EU Settlement Scheme will be able to continue living in the UK without a visa. The Home Office will also grant them Settled or pre-settled status.
Who is Eligible?
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was living in the UK before the 1st January 2021, you could be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
You can also apply as the family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen. As well as the family member of an eligible person of Northern Ireland.
It’s worth noting that some people may be eligible to stay in the UK without applying for the EU Settlement Scheme. This includes Irish citizens or people who already hold Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. If you are applying to join a family member, you’ll need to make an application even if they are exempt from having to apply.
Your children are also eligible to apply for the scheme, but you will need to make separate applications for them.
Frontier workers, who work in the UK but do not live here, don’t need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
How to Apply?
Applications for the EU Settlement Scheme are free and you can apply online on the gov.uk website.
As well as filling in the application form, you will need to submit some documents to the Home Office. There are options to do this electronically or by post.
The documents that you will need to apply include:
- Proof of your identity – EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will need to provide a valid passport or identity card and a digital photo of your face. Non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizens will need to provide either a valid passport, a biometric residence permit or card and a digital photo of your face.
- Proof of residence – If you arrived in the UK before the 31st December 2021 then you can supply the Home Office with your National Insurance Number which can be used to automatically verify your residence. If you are applying for settled status, you may need to provide additional documents to prove your continuous 5 years residence.
- Proof of relationship with your family member – if you are not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland then you will need to provide proof of your relationship with the family member that you are applying to join.
Separate applications must be made for your children, you can apply for them, or they can apply for themselves.
What Does Settled Status Mean?
If you’ve lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years or more, then you will usually be granted settled status when applying for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you’ve spent at least 6 months in any 12-month period in the UK, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
If you are granted settled status, this means that you can continue living in the UK indefinitely. You may also be able to apply for British Citizenship If you are eligible.
What Does Pre-Settled Status Mean?
If you don’t have 5 years continuous residence at the time of your application, you’ll usually be granted pre-settled status.
Pre-settled status will give you the right to remain in the UK for another 5 years. Once you have 5 years of continuous residence, you will be able to apply to change your pre-settled status to settled status.
What Rights Will I Have Under the EU Settlement Scheme?
If you are granted pre-settled or settled status under the EU settlement scheme then you will be able to:
- Work in the UK
- Study in the UK
- Use the NHS for free
- Access public funds
- Travel in and out of the country
You may not have the same rights if you have been granted settled or pre-settled status as the family member of an EU, EEA, Swiss or Irish citizen.
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