What are the different EU settlement statuses?
The EU Settlement Scheme closes on 30th June 2021, meaning EU citizens have limited time remaining to apply. The EUSS was set up to provide those originating from the EU but living in the UK the chance to seek status to stay in the country, following Brexit and the end of the free movement of people with the EU.
Successful applicants to the scheme will receive one of two statuses: pre-settled or settled. There is no choice as to which you get as it’s determined on your length of time in the UK and certain other factors. While both statuses will give the individual cover to stay living in the UK, there are some differences between the two to be aware of.
If you employ staff who may be applying under the scheme, it is worth understanding the various statuses and their implications to give accurate information to your employees. If you are using the EUSS yourself, it’s even more essential to know what status you have and any action you may need to take in the future.
In this blog, we have outlined the two statuses and what they mean.
Who needs to apply under the EUSS?
Before delving into the different statuses under the EU Settlement Scheme, you need to know who should apply. Essentially, the EUSS covers anyone who is an EU citizen living in the UK and who wants to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. If you were born in the UK but do not have British citizenship, you will still need to apply.
Those who already have British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain do not need to apply. Frontier works also do not need to apply, as they should already have a Frontier Worker permit that covers them.
To apply under the scheme, you must have been living in the UK by 31st December 2020. After this point, anyone who moved to the UK will have had to do so under the new points-based immigration system.
If you don’t live in the UK but have a family member who already does, you may also be able to get settlement status, but the rules differ slightly. You will need to have a valid passport or identity card to do so or seek a family permit which will enable you to apply for settlement once you arrive in the UK.
If you’re unsure whether you need to apply under the scheme, the government’s Brexit checker tool should help you find out.
If you have been living in the UK for five or more years and apply under the EUSS, you will be seen as ‘settled’. You must have been living here continuously for that time, meaning at least six months within a 12-month period. There are some exceptions to this, such as having left for military service, study or medical reasons.
If you’re accepted for settled status, you will be able to stay in the UK indefinitely unless you choose to leave at a later date. This also gives you the right to work and access accommodation and healthcare in the UK. If you have children while living in the UK and have this status, they will become British citizens.
If you have not yet lived in the UK for five years but will reach this before 30th June, you can choose to hold off from applying until then so you immediately get settled status. However, be sure to apply in enough time before the deadline so that you are covered from July and don’t run into any issues.
If you have been living in the UK for less than five years, you will be eligible for pre-settled status. This includes people living in the UK by 31st December but who were not here on that date, providing you left for less than six months.
Pre-settled status provides the same rights as settled status, meaning you will be legally allowed to live and work in the UK. However, this status only lasts for five years. If your status is approaching expiry, or you reached the five-year threshold for living in the UK, you need to re-apply to get settled status. This application will work in the same way as your first EUSS application, with similar proof required.
If your pre-settled status expires and you do not re-apply, it could leave you unable to live and work in the UK legally. So, it’s essential to note the expiry date or the date at which you will reach five years of living in the UK.
Unlike settled status, if you have children while living in the UK, they won’t automatically become British citizens. Instead, they will be eligible for pre-settled status, and you will need to make an application on their behalf.
Obtaining appropriate status under the EU Settlement Scheme is vital for anyone who wants to remain in the UK after 30th June. If you don’t have the status you need, it puts your lawful ability to work, live and access healthcare in the UK at risk. So, if your eligible for the scheme, you need to ensure you have applied by the deadline to prevent this from happening to you.
Understanding the differences between pre-settled and settled status will also help you (or your staff if you are an employer providing guidance) to know your rights and not get caught out by unexpected expiry dates. This will allow you and your family to stay in the UK for as long as you may wish.
If you need support in understanding the impact of the EU Settlement Scheme and immigration policy on you or your staff, our team of advisors can help. We have expertise in employment law and immigration and broader Brexit topics such as trade, so we can provide tailored advice for your unique challenges.