EU Settlement Scheme
Newfields has been appointed by the Welsh Government to provide free advice and support to EU citizens and their family members living in Wales who wish to apply to remain in the country in accordance with the EU Settlement Scheme. EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members can also apply under the scheme.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
EU citizens and their family members are entitled to enter, live and work lawfully in the UK whilst the UK remains within the EU.
These rights are preserved during any transitional period that is agreed by the Government following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Currently, the transitional period will be 31January 2020 to 30 June 2021 for those arriving in the UK before 31st January 2020.
The EU Settlement Scheme was set up by the UK government to enable EU citizens and their family members to establish their immigration status prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and during the transitional period.
The Scheme involves submitting an application which, if granted, will involve one of two outcomes for the applicant:
1. Pre-settled status; or
2. Settled status.
Settled status is the equivalent of indefinite leave to remain. It requires the EU citizen and any family member to have been resident in the UK for at least 5 continuous years. Those with settled status are able to have absences of up to 5 continuous’ years outside the UK (4 years if they are a Swiss citizen) without losing their status. Any absences exceeding 5 continuous years would result in a loss of settled status.
An EU citizen and any family member who has not resided in the UK for 5 continuous years will be granted pre-settled status. They will be able to apply for settled status in the future, after completing 5 years’ continuous residence in the country (even if this 5-year anniversary occurs after 2021). An individual must make an application for settled status within 5 years of their grant of pre-settled status. Those with pre-settled status can have absences of up to 2 continuous’ years outside the UK without losing their status, however such absences will impact on an individual’s ability to apply for settled status in the future.
Who can apply to the Settlement Scheme?
EU, EEA (the EEA includes Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland) and Swiss citizens; and
Family members of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens (these family members do not themselves need to be EU, EEA or Swiss citizen)
Irish citizens are not required to apply however may do so if their non-EU family member wishes to make an application under the scheme.
Being born in the UK does not guarantee you British citizenship. If you were born in the UK but you do not have British citizenship, you will need to apply to the Settlement Scheme. Please contact us if you believe you are entitled to British citizenship.
What is the application process
The application process is entirely digital and involves a 2-stage process: an identity check and a residency check.
The identity check is completed via a specific app which can be found on both the Apple store and Android store. The name of the app is the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check app’. This app is used to verify an individual’s identity using their biometric ID document.
If you are unable to use the app there are several other options available to you to complete this identity check. You may either:
Post your ID document to the Home Office
Visit a document scanning location. Centres can be found on the following site:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-id-document-scanner-locations
The video below, produced by an organisation called Free Movement provides a step-by-step walkthrough of the application form.
When should I apply?
Applicants must be residing in the UK by the 31 December 2020 and must make an application to the scheme by the 30 June 2021.
What rights do I have if I am granted settled or pre-settled status?
EU citizens and their family members who are granted settled or pre-settled status will be able to live and work in the UK. They will have the same access as they do now to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK.
How can I establish my residence in the UK?
In most cases, your UK residence can be assessed by reference to your National Insurance record. For this reason, your Settlement Status application will ask you for your National Insurance number.
However, not everyone will have a National Insurance number. Similarly, not everyone will have been undertaking work or other activities that would require reference to a NI number. In these cases, you should consider gathering the following documents to prove 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK instead. Such documents can include:
Council tax bill
Domestic bills such as utilities, phone, TV or internet
Letters from UK Government departments (such as the DVLA, HMRC, Department for Education, Department for Work & Pensions, Department of Health & Social Care), the NHS, the Job Centre, any UK public body and/or UK charity confirming your physical interaction with that organization
Mortgage statement or tenancy agreement
Annual business accounts and/or invoices for work carried out in the UK
Employer documents – for example, P60 for a 12 month period and/or a P45 confirming a period of employment which has ceased and/or employer payslips and/or a letter from an employer confirming a period of UK-based employment
Letter or other documents from an education provider confirming your attendance
Evidence of receiving a student loan
Letter from a care home confirming a period of residence
Evidence of employer pension contributions for a job requiring presence on the UK
Attendance at medical appointments
Evidence of inbound travel to the UK e.g. boarding pass, used travel ticket
To qualify for continuous residence you must not have been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in any 12 month period unless the absence was for an important reason such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training or an overseas posting.
What if I already have permanent residence status or indefinite leave to remain (ILR)?
Many EU citizens and their families have been granted permanent residence under existing EU Regulations. If you have previously been issued permanent residence, you must still apply to the Settlement Scheme. You will not have to provide any evidence to prove your UK residence, but you will be required to answer any criminal/security checks. The Home Office will also need to confirm that your permanent residence status has not been withdrawn or invalidated for any reason.
Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter
If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter, it is not strictly necessary for you to apply to the Settlement Scheme. However, you are advised to do so to avoid delays arising from immigration checks at the UK border if and when you re-enter the country.
What if I am under the age of 21?
You must apply for settled or pre-settled status and you can do so if you are an EU citizen or your parent, spouse or civil partner is an EU citizen.
If you are under 21 years old and your parents have already been granted settled status, then you will automatically qualify for settled status even if you have not yet been living in the UK for five years. However, despite this automatic entitlement, you will still need to submit an application which is supported by a birth certificate that shows your parents’ details.
If you have been living in the UK for five or more years, then you will qualify for settled status in your own right without having to depend on your parents.
What if I have a criminal record?
All applications for settled status will be checked against criminal record databases. Depending upon the nature of the crime and the outcome of the matter, there is a risk that your application might be refused.
You may be deported for historic offences if :
• You have been imprisoned at all within the last five years; or
• At any time (no matter how historic) you have been sentenced for a period of 12 months or more for a single offence; or
• In the last three years, you have three or more convictions (including non-custodial sentences), if you have lived in the UK for fewer than 5 years; or
• You have previously been involved in serious deception such as sham marriage or assisting unlawful immigration
The Home Office will however undertake a ‘proportionality assessment’ when considering applications. This means it will consider the individual facts of each case.
When completing the on-line application form you should declare all criminal convictions and any pending charges, and provide details of these when asked. If you don’t declare a conviction that the Home Office become aware of via their own background checks, your application will be at risk of being refused on grounds of deception.
What if I’m Irish?
If you are an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply to the Settlement Scheme.
What must I do if I am a family member of an EU citizen?
If you are also an EU citizen and are residing in the UK before the relevant dates, you must make your own application to the EU Settlement Scheme. This includes children who are under 21 years old.
If you are a non-EU family member can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme at the same time as the EU citizen.
Who is a non-EU family member?
Family members can be non-EU citizens whose right to be in the UK is dependant on their family relationship with an EU citizen. Family members are split into two types – close family members and extended family members. This distinction is explained below.
When should family members apply?
Family members can apply at the same time as their EU citizen/sponsor. The Home Office encourages family members either to apply at the same time as or after their sponsor applies. This is because the evidence provided by the EU citizen in gaining granted status will be sufficient evidence of the family member’s identity, nationality and continuous residence.
Close EU or non-EU family members who are living abroad may also join UK citizens in future providing the relationship was already formed before 31 December 2020. After this date, a normal family visa will apply.
Which family members can apply (close family members and extended family members):
The first category of ‘close family members’ includes a spouse civil partner, child under 21, parent or grandparent. In most cases, a ‘close family member’ will be fairly obvious however, if there is any doubt see Annex 1 – Definitions of the Appendix EU rules.
‘Extended family members’ can include durable partners,* and other relatives such as brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin provided that they are dependent on the EU sponsor in some way. It is important to remember that in order to apply for the settlement scheme, extended family members must already have a UK immigration document (i.e. a family permit, registration certificate, residence card, document residence card, document certifying permanent residence, permanent residence card).
Those who have a valid biometric residence permit may be able to confirm their identity using the EU Exit app. Those who do not hold a biometric residence permit will have to go to a Home Office application centre to enrol their biometrics and submit their original passport or national identity card.
*A durable partner is one that is (or as the case may be) for the relevant period was, in a durable relationship with an EEA citizen with the couple having lived together in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership or if the couple do not have two years living together, other significant evidence such as joint responsibility for a child.
Families where the relationship has ended, or the family member has died:
It is possible to apply for the Settlement Scheme as a family member in cases where you no longer have an EU citizen sponsor due to death or divorce.
A family member may get settled status without having lived in the UK for five years if all of the following criteria are met:
- They were living with their sponsor at the time of the sponsor’s death
- Their sponsor was working or self-employed in the UK at the time of their death
- The sponsor has been living in the UK for at least two years, or their death was the result of an accident at work or an occupational disease.
If these criteria cannot be met, a family member can still apply for the scheme but will need five years’ residence to gain full settled status. Otherwise they will be offered pre-settled status.
In regards to divorce, the divorced applicant must meet one of the following criteria:
- The marriage lasted for at least three years before divorce proceedings started AND the couple had been living in the UK for at least one year
- The applicant has custody of their ex’s child
- The applicant has court-ordered access to their ex’s child
- There are ‘particularly difficult circumstances’ such as domestic abuse
Please note that if the EU sponsor is only entitled to pre-settled status, the non-EU family member will also only be eligible to apply for pre-settled status.
How do family members apply?
Family members (except for carers) will follow the same basic application process as EU citizens.
Users of the smartphone app are asked at the outset whether they are an EU citizen or not. Family members will select ‘no’.
Family members will be asked for their:
a) Own identity
c) Sponsor’s identity
d) Sponsor’s residence in the UK
e) Relationship with the sponsor
An existing permanent residence card will count as proof of all the above. Others that do not hold this will have to provide further evidence.
Family reunification after the settlement scheme ends
Family members will not be able to use the Settlement Scheme route if the relationship between themselves and their sponsor began after 31 December 2020. After this date, a normal UK family visa will apply.
Family members with a pre-existing relationship, in a case of a no-deal Brexit, will only be able to take the Settlement Scheme route to join their sponsor up to the cut-off date of 29 March 2022.
Family members of Irish citizens
Whilst Irish citizens are exempt from having to apply for the Settlement Scheme, their family members are not. Family members of Irish citizens must prove their Irish sponsor’s identity and residence in the UK.
Family members of British citizens
Generally, non-EU family members of UK citizens cannot apply for the settlement scheme and would instead apply through the regular UK family visa system.
There is one exception however in the case of British citizens who have moved to other EU countries, met a non-EU citizen there and moved back with them to the UK under the ‘Surinder Singh’ immigration route.
Carers have the right to apply under the Settlement Scheme. The criteria for Zambrano, Chen or Ibrahim/Teixeira carers is outlined below.
Someone qualifies as a Zambrano carer if they are the primary carer of a British citizen who lives in the UK, and the removal of the carer would require the British citizen child to leave the EU entirely.
Someone qualifies as a Chen carer if they are the primary carer of a self-sufficient (not claiming benefits) EU citizen child.
Someone qualifies as a Ibrahim/Teixeira carer if they are the primary carer of a child of an EU citizen, the child is in education in the UK and requiring the primary carer to leave the UK would prevent the child from continuing their education in the UK.
Carers will therefore need to meet the evidential requirements for these various criteria.
How much does the application for settled status cost?
Applications under the EU Settlement Scheme are now free.
Originally, the Settlement Scheme involved an application fee of £65. However, this fee was removed by the Prime Minister on 21 January 2019. Those who originally made a payment are entitled to a full refund of the fee.
What if I miss the deadline?
The deadline for applying to the Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021. The position for those who miss this deadline is still uncertain and so we would urge all to ensure they submit an application before this date. You should still apply to the Settlement Scheme even if you miss the deadline.
How will I know if my application has been successful?
You will receive an email to confirm what status you have been granted. The email will provide you with a decision letter and instructions on how to access your proof of status. Your decision letter is not official proof of settled or pre-settled status. You will not be issued a physical document, such as a card or certificate, saying that you have settled or pre-settled.
What happens if my application is unsuccessful?
Should your application be unsuccessful, you may try resubmitting a new application under the EU Settlement Scheme. The application is free and whilst the scheme remains open, provided you can support your application with new evidence, this may be a viable option to individuals.
Applications made on or after 11pm on 31 January 2020, can now be appealed. You may appeal the Home Office's decision to give you pre-settled status instead of settled status. If you applied before this time, you can't appeal but you can apply again or ask for an administrative review.
You can challenge a Home Office decision. The process is called an administrative review. You can request a review if you feel that your application was refused incorrectly on eligibility grounds or if you were granted pre-settled status but you believe that you qualify for settled status. You must make your application for administrative review within 28 days of the date on your decision email. It costs £80 per person to apply for an administrative review. However, the fee will be refunded if:
the original decision is withdrawn due to a case working error; and/or
your application for a review is rejected because it’s invalid
The fee will not be refunded if your decision is changed solely because you have submitted new information or evidence. If you want to submit new information or evidence, you can reapply to the EU Settlement Scheme for free instead.
What happens after I have applied?
How can I prove my status?
Once granted settled or pre-settled status, you will receive an email explaining how you can access your ‘proof of status’. This is in the form of a digital decision letter however this decision letter is not official proof of status. No physical document or card saying that you have settled or pre-settled status will be issued to you unless you have applied as a non-EU family member and you don’t already have a biometric residence permit (BRP).
The letter will contain a link to the Home Office online checking service. The link is called “View and Prove your Rights in the UK”. Access this link, providing the following security information:
identity document number that you used when making the application (for example, your passport number, national ID card number or biometric residence permit number);
Your date of birth
The mobile number or email address used during the application.
A code will then be sent to the mobile number or email address used to register the application. Insert that code into the website and your settled or pre-settled status will be confirmed. You will need to keep your email and phone number up to date so that you can continue to access your status record. You can update your details via your on-line profile.
There is now an additional online service which enables you to share and prove your status with any third parties. This is done by the sharing of a code which allows the third party to view your status for up to 30 days.
Getting British Citizenship
You can apply to naturalise as a British citizen provided you meet the following requirements:
you are 18 or over
of ‘good character’
you intend to continue living in the UK
you meet the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
you meet the residency conditions, which require you to show:
having settled status for at least 12 months (unless you are married to a British citizen); and
absences from the UK not exceeding 90 days in the 12-month period prior to your submission of an application to naturalise; and
absences from the UK not exceeding 450 days in the 5-year period prior to your submission of an application to naturalise (those married to British
citizen must not have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days in the 3-year period prior to the submission of an application to naturalise); and
that you were physically in the UK 5 years ago to the date that you submit an application to naturalise (or 3 years ago for those married to British citizens)
Citizenship for children
A person who is granted settled status is ‘settled’ in UK nationality law. This means that a child can register as a British citizen in one of two ways:
1. A non-British child who is born in the UK can be registered as a British citizen once their parent is granted settled status. The child is not automatically British if born in the UK.
2. If a child is born after the parent is granted settled status that child automatically British. The child can make an application for a British passport by supplying evidence of birth in the UK and evidence that the parent has become settled.
- EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS): The EU Settlement Scheme was set up by the UK government to process applications for immigration status from EU citizens and their family members who are living in the UK. When an application is successful, one of two types of immigration status is granted:
Limited leave to remain, also referred to as pre-settled status; or Indefinite leave to remain, also referred to as settled status.
- European Economic Area (EEA): The European Economic Area is an area of free trade and free movement of peoples between the member states of the European Union, as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Though neither part of the EU or an EEA member state, Switzerland also benefits from the same freedom of movement rights as EEA member states.
- European Union: The European Union (EU) is a economic and political union of 28 member states primarily located in Europe with an internal single market and a standardized system of laws which apply in all member states.
Current EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
- Brexit: The term ‘Brexit’ combines the words ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’ and widely refers to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
- Home Office: The Home Office is the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime, fire, counter-terrorism and police. In regards to the Home Office and the EU Settlement Scheme, the Home Office is responsible for reviewing applications and informing EU citizens as to whether or not they have been granted legal status.
- Settled status: Also known as indefinite leave to remain, this term is used by the government to indicate that an individual has no time limit on how long they can stay in the UK. After Brexit, EU citizens who have been granted settled status will continue to have the same access to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK as they do under the current rules.
Under settled status, an individual can leave the UK and return within five years and continue to live here as a settled person. If they are absent from the UK for more than five consecutive years however, their settled status will lapse.
Furthermore, if they have a children born in the UK after being granted settled status, that child will be born a British citizen.
- Pre-settled status: Also known as limited leave to remain, pre-settled status allows you to stay in the UK for a period of up to five years. This allows you to remain in the UK until you are eligible for settled status which has a requirement of five years of residence.
EU citizens who have been granted pre-settled status will continue to have the same access to healthcare and public services as they do now.
- Permanent residence status: Some EU citizens and their families may have documentation proof of ‘permanent residence’. Though this exists under today’s EU law, those who have previously been issue ‘permanent residence’ must still apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. Under the scheme they will not have to provide further evidence of qualifying residence but will be subject to criminal and security checks. Furthermore, the Home Office will need to confirm that their permanent residence status has not lapsed through absence of more than five consecutive years. The applicant will need to ‘self-declare’ that they have not been absent for such a period. If the Home Office is satisfied with the application, they will be eligible for settled status.
- Continuous residence: being ‘continuously resident’ means not having left the UK for more than six months at a time. Someone who has been absent from the UK for six months or longer will break their continuous residence. There are generally only two exceptions from this general rule which can be found in Appendix EU of the UK Immigration Rules. These are:
a) a single period of absence which did not exceed 12 months and was for an important reason (such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting); or
b) any period of absence on compulsory military service.
- Close family member: A close family member is a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, dependent child, dependent grandchild, dependent parent or dependent grandparent. A family member can come from anywhere in the world and need not be from the EU. If there is any doubt, a full list of definitions of a child, spouse etc. can be found at Annex 1 – Definitions of the Appendix EU rules.
- Administrative review (in regards to refused status): Within the decision letter received after making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be told whether your application can be reviewed.
You can apply for administrative review if either your application was refused on eligibility grounds or you were granted pre-settled status but believe you quality for settled status. You can also make a new application under the EU settlement scheme at any point. This application will be free.
In order to make an application for administrative review you must apply within 28 days of the date of your decision email by completing an administrative review application form. It costs £80 to apply for an administrative review with this fee being refunded if the original decision is withdrawn due to a case working error or your application for a review is rejected because it is invalid.
How can I get more information?
Phone - 02921690049
*Covid-19 update: We have postponed any face-to-face interaction with individuals wishing to get advice and support with completing their EU Settlement Scheme application for the foreseeable future. We are still providing advice over the phone, email and our webchat function and are also carrying out video chat meetings over platforms such as Zoom.*