Wed 06 Mar 2019

Am I eligible for settled status? - How does the EU settlement scheme work

As I sit down to write this article, it is still unclear what kind of Brexit we are headed for (or maybe there will be a second referendum). However, regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, the Settlement scheme for EU/EEA nationals and their family members will continue to operate.

The Settlement scheme will allow EU residents and their family members who live with them in the United Kingdom to continue doing so lawfully, provided they are granted status under the scheme.

The deadline for applications will depend on whether a deal is achieved. However, if no deal is achieved the following will apply:

  • The EU Settlement scheme is open to EU nationals and their family members who are resident in the United Kingdom on or before the date of its withdrawal from the European Union. Therefore if an EU national wants to benefit from this scheme's conditions, they must be resident in the United Kingdom by the withdrawal date. This date is currently set to 31 October 2019 but is subject to change.
  • The deadline to apply under the scheme is 31 December 2020. Failure to apply by this date will likely result in the EU citizen having no legal right to live in the UK. This extends to 30 June 2021 only if the United Kingdom leaves with a deal.
  • People who have been continuously resident for five years will be eligible for Settled Status (a new status created by the scheme which is very similar to Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence).
  • People who have not accrued the required length of continuous residence will be eligible for Pre-Settled Status (also created by the scheme this status is similar to limited Leave to Remain - it will generally lead to Settled Status once someone has lived in the UK for five years).
  • Certain close family members, not resident in the United Kingdom by the Brexit date, will be able to join a qualifying EU national for a period of three years after the specified date of withdrawal provided their relationship existed by the exit date. There is also a provision for children of qualified EU nationals not yet born.
  • People who have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain will be able to (but will not have to) exchange their status for Settled Status - the current plan is that Settled Status will not be affected by a continuous absence of up to five years while traditionally Indefinite Leave to Remain can lapse following a continuous absence of two years. This may make it a more attractive option to some applicants.

The Settlement scheme will be fully open on 30 March 2019. On 21 January 2019 the Prime Minister announced that the previously set fee of £65 for adults and £32.50 for children will not apply. Applicants who apply during the testing phase before that date will still have to pay but will subsequently be refunded.

Our immigration team has experience with Settled and Pre-Settled Status applications. If you have any questions about the best route for you please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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