Written by Bhavneeta Limbachia and

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The UK is anticipated to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 (unless the two-year notice period is extended by agreement between the UK and EU). The new EU Settlement Scheme fully opens on 30 March 2019. The deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, if you would like to remain in the UK after 31 December 2020, is 30 June 2021. If you are an EEA citizen or a family member of an EEA citizen then you can apply as long as you are a resident of the UK by 31 December 2020.

 How to apply

  • Online application
  • You will need proof of identity, residence in the UK and relationship to a family member (if applicable)
  • You will need to pay the application fee (£65 for adults, £32.50 for children and free if you have permanent residence, pre-settled status and Indefinite Leave to Remain)
  • You will need to enrol your biometrics

How to prove identity

You will need to provide your passport or national ID card. If you are a non-EU family member then you can provide a valid passport, biometric residence card/permit. You will be able to scan your documents using the EU exit app or by sending documents by post.


You need to be resident in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years in order to be eligible for settled status. If you have been resident in the UK for less than 5 years then you will be eligible for pre-settled status. Although once you accrue 5 years in the UK you will be eligible for settled status.

Please note that continuous residence means that you have not been absent for more than 6 months for every 12 month period of residence with the exception of a single period of up to 12 months for exceptional circumstances such as pregnancy, child birth or a serious injury.

You will be able to provide your national insurance number when you apply for an automated check of residence based on tax and certain benefits. If the check does not produce a sufficient result then further documents will be required.

Please note there are also circumstances by which you will be able to acquire settled status before 5 years of continuous residence such as being unable to work due to permanent incapacity, reaching state pension age/early retirement and starting employment or self-employment in another EU country.

Family members of EU citizens

You will be required to provide evidence of your relationship to EU citizen and evidence of the EU citizen’s identity and residence.

If you have a document certifying permanent residence (PR)

You must still apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, although there is no fee.

Rights of those with pre-settled and settled status

  • You will be able to work in the UK
  • To use NHS
  • To enrol on a UK educational course or continue to study
  • To access public funds
  • To bring family members to the UK after 31 December 2020
  • To travel in and out of the UK

Permitted periods of absence

If you have settled status you will be able to remain in the UK indefinitely and you can be absent from the UK for a period of 5 consecutive years without losing your status.

If you have pre-settled status then you will be able to remain in the UK for 5 years from the grant of your status and you can be absent from the UK for up to 2 consecutive years without losing your status. However please note that this will affect your eligibility for settled status because continuous residence will be broken.

Suitability Requirements

You must declare all criminal convictions as a criminality check will be carried out if you are 18 or over.

After 31 December 2020

If you have settled or pre-settled status then your family members will be able to join you after 31 December 2020 if you satisfy the following requirements:

  • Your relationship with the family member began prior to 31 December 2020
  • You remain in a close relationship with the family member
  • You family member will be granted leave in line with yours


There is currently no concrete guidance on processing times, however you will either be granted pre-settled or settled status. You will receive confirmation of your status online and will be issued a unique reference number. Please note that you will not receive any written documentation to confirm your status. You will only receive a written confirmation if you are from outside of the EU and you do not hold a biometric residence card/permit.

If refused

An application will be refused if it is invalid. However, you will be able to apply again and there is no limitation on the number of times you can apply. You may also consider applying for an administrative review or appealing the decision if provided with a right of appeal.

Right to work checks

If your application is pending then you can provide your EU passport or national ID card as evidence until 31 December 2020. If you are a non-EU national and you qualify for leave under the EU Settlement Scheme then you will be issued with a Certificate of Application to evidence your right to work in the UK.

Once you have been granted pre-settled or settled status then you can provide your unique reference number as evidence. You will be able to check this via your online profile.


You can apply 12 months after you have been granted settled status. Alternatively, if you are married or in a civil partnership with a British Citizen then you can apply immediately.


Children born in the UK after 31 December 2020 to parents who have settled status will automatically acquire British citizenship. Whereas children born in the UK after 31 December 2020 to a parent who has pre-settled status will automatically be eligible for pre-settled status.

However if the other parent has any of the following, the child will acquire British citizenship:

  • British citizenship
  • Settled Status
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • Right of abode in the UK

How we can help?

We understand that the ongoing changes triggered by Brexit can be complex and unclear. We understand every case is different, which is why, if instructed, our expert immigration solicitors can provide you with detailed advice and guide you through the process. If you are a business who employs EU worker, you may also wish to seek legal advice. We offer comprehensive seminars, webinars and one to one sessions to support your workers.

Our expert solicitors who are based in London and Reading, are fully authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and are available to consult with you in person at our offices, or via Skype or telephone. To get in touch with our business immigration team, please use the Contact Form opposite or if you prefer, call or email us.

15th January 2019