Newfields, along with several other organisations, has been funded by the Welsh Government to provide free advice to EU citizens and their family members living in Wales, who are applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
Frequently asked questions, and answers, for those making an application to the EUSS.
EU citizens and their family members were entitled to enter, live and work lawfully in the UK whilst the UK remained within the EU. These rights are preserved during the transitional period between 31st January 2020 to 30th June 2021 for those arriving in the UK before 31st December 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. It was mandatory to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme prior to 30 June 2021, otherwise, an EU citizen would lose their right to live and work in the UK.
The Scheme involves submitting an application which, if granted, will involve one of two outcomes for the applicant:
Pre-settled status; or
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.
For EU citizens who did not enter the UK by 31 December 2020, they must now make a ‘traditional’ visa application if they wish to live or work in the UK.
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.
Applicants must have been residing in the UK by the 31st December 2020 and must have made an application to the scheme by the 30th June 2021.
If an application was not made by this date, there must be good reason for a late application, such as:
where a parent, guardian or Local Authority has failed to apply on behalf of a child
where a person has or had a serious medical condition, which meant they were unable to apply by the relevant deadline
where someone is a victim of modern slavery or is in an abusive relationship
where someone is isolated, vulnerable or did not have the digital skills to access the application process
where a person was unable to apply by the relevant deadline for compelling practical or compassionate reasons – including in light of the coronavirus pandemic
It is still possible to make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have missed the deadline and it is important to do so as soon as possible.
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.
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 organisation
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.
Many EU citizens and their families were granted permanent residence under previous 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.
How much does the application for settled status cost?
Applications under the EU Settlement Scheme are now free of charge. 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.
Family members of EU citizens applying to the Scheme may need to enrol their biometrics (fingerprints, digital photo) in order to receive a biometric residence card (BRC). This involves attending an appointment at a UK Visas & Citizenship Application Service centre for which there is a cost of up to approx. £200 for an appointment if the applicant wants a quick appointment. It is possible to get an appointment free of charge but this often involves a wait of several weeks.
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.
All applications for settled status will be checked against criminal record databases both in the UK and overseas. Depending upon the nature of the crime and the outcome of the matter, there is a risk that your application might be refused.
If you have previous minor criminal convictions this is unlikely to cause a problem for your EU Settlement application.
Your application will be assessed by a part of the Home Office called Immigration Enforcement if your previous convictions resulted in:
You being 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. At least one of these convictions must have taken place in the last 12 months and, where the applicant is resident in the UK, at least one of these convictions must be in the UK; or
You have previously been involved in serious deception such as sham marriage or assisting unlawful immigration
Immigration Enforcement will assess your application to check whether your crimes would meet the criteria for deportation.
Having your EU Settlement Scheme assessed by the Immigration Enforcement team does not mean that deportation will be ordered, although, if you have received a custodial sentence in excess of 12 months it is likely. The Home Office will 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.
If you have a criminal record this will likely lead to a significant delay in the processing of your application.
If you are an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply to the Settlement Scheme.
Whilst Irish citizens are exempt from having to apply for the Settlement Scheme, their non-Irish family members are not. As part of their application, non-Irish family members of Irish citizens must prove their Irish sponsor’s identity and residence in the UK.
Family members can be non-EU citizens whose right to be in the UK is dependent 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.
If you are also an EU citizen and are residing in the UK before the 31st December 2020, you must have made your own application to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. This includes children who are under 21 years old.
If you are a non-EU family member you should have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme at the same time as your EU citizen family member.
A family member can still apply late, however, if they were not in the UK before 31 December 2020, they should have made a Family Permit application.
You must apply from outside of the UK for a Family Permit in order to enter the UK and apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. You must be the family member of an EU Citizen who has either Pre-Settled or Settled Status, and your relationship must have begun before 31 December 2020. If your relationship began after this date, you will have to apply under one of the family visa routes.
If granted, you will be given 6 months to enter the UK. Once you have entered you will have 3 months to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme.
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.
Family members (except for carers and those relying on retained or derivative rights of residence) 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.
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. These are often referred to as have a retained or derivative right of residence.
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.
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.
In order to rely on this route, in most cases, the British Citizen and family member would have to have moved back to the UK before 29 March 2022, or, the family member made an application for a Family Permit by this date and the British Citizen had already returned to the UK. It is possible to apply late application with good reason.
Family reunification after the transition period ends on 31st December 2020
Family members will not be able to use the Settlement Scheme route if the relationship between themselves and their sponsor began after 31st December 2020. After this date, a normal UK family visa will apply.
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.
Keep all of the emails and documents relating to your EU Settlement Scheme application in a safe place. Make a note of your 16-digit unique application reference number beginning with 3434.
Keep checking the email account which you used in to make the application for any communications from the Home Office. Sometimes the Home Office will contact applicants to ask for additional information. It is important that you respond to any requests quickly. Please check your junk and/or spam folder regularly.
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 on-line proof of status. The decision letter is not official proof of settled or pre-settled status. Your status can be viewed on-line on your personalised status portal only. You will not be issued a physical document, such as a card or certificate, saying that you have settled or pre-settled.
The best option is to reapply and provide extra evidence of your residency in the UK. If this happens, the you should get advice from Newfields so we can give you guidance about what to do next.
There are many reasons why an application might be unsuccessful. If this happens to you there are a few of options available including re-applying, requesting an Administrative Review or submitting an appeal. The best option will depend on your circumstances and for this reason you should get advice from Newfields so we can give you guidance about what to do next.
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. A sharing of a code can be generated via their on-line profile which you can share with other organisations, allowing that organisation to view your status for up to 30 days.
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)
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:
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.
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.
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