What is it?
The EU Settlement Scheme, sometimes abbreviated to EUSS, is the government’s scheme for EEA citizens and their family members to remain in the UK after we leave the EU.
Who can apply under the Scheme?
The Scheme is open to all citizens of the European Economic Area and Switzerland who are living in the country by a certain date. If we leave the EU without a deal, this date will be exit day. If we leave the EU with a deal, the Scheme is open to anyone living here by 31 December 2020.
The only requirement is residence in the UK. There is no need for applicants to show they have been working, studying, in self-employment or self-sufficient.
What residence status will I get?
Applicants who have already lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period will be given settled status. This includes applicants who have lived here for a continuous five-year period in the past, provided they have not been outside the UK for five years or more since.
“Continuous” residence means there have been no absences from the UK that exceed a total of six months in any 12-month period
Applicants who have lived in the UK for less than five years, will be given pre-settled status. This allows them to remain in the UK for five years, after which they can apply for settled status if they qualify at that time. During this period they can be absent from the UK for up to two years without losing their pre-settled status. If they do not qualify at the end of the five years, due to prolonged absences, they can apply to renew their pre-settled status.
Settled status gives EEA and Swiss citizens the right to reside in the UK permanently and can only be lost through five years of absence from the UK.
What document will I get?
EEA and Swiss citizens will not receive a document confirming their status. They will instead be issued with electronic confirmation of their status. At present, this link is only for use by the applicant and the Home Office but in the future it can be used to prove lawful residence for other purposes too, for example, for work.
Do I have to apply under the Scheme?
For the time being, there is no obligation for EEA and Swiss citizens to hold status under the Scheme. They can continue using their passports for the time being. However, nearly all EEA and Swiss citizens will eventually need to hold status under the Scheme if they wish to continue living here, including people who already hold a document certifying permanent residence.
The only exceptions are people who have indefinite leave to remain or who have already naturalised as British citizens.
The deadline for making applications under the Scheme will be 31 December 2020 if we leave the EU without a deal and 30 June 2021 if we leave with a deal.
How do I obtain British citizenship?
If you are married to a British citizen, you may be able to apply for your own citizenship as soon as you are granted settled status.
If you are not married to a British citizen, then you will have to wait a year after obtaining settled status before you can apply for citizenship.
However, you may be able to apply for citizenship much sooner than this if you apply for a document certifying permanent residence instead of settled status. Please contact us to discuss this option further.
How we can help
It is important to make sure you are applying for the right status at the right time. Although the Settlement Scheme is less prescriptive than the previous system for EEA nationals, it is still easy to make mistakes. Our highly experienced team of immigration lawyers will assist in preparing and submitting your application to achieve the best possible outcome, including advice on the fastest route to citizenship.
If you’d like to discuss matters further, please email our expert Immigration team on firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the online enquiry form on this page.