The EU Settlement Scheme: EU Settled and Pre-Settled Status
All EEA nationals and their family members who are living in the UK by 31 December 2020, and who can demonstrate this, can make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme for either settled status or pre-settled status.
Holding settled or pre-settled status will enable EEA nationals and their family members to continue to live, work and study in the UK once the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. The closing date for making applications is 30 June 2021 (other than in relation to certain family members).
EEA nationals and their family member(s) who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years are able to apply for settled status, officially called Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), under the EU Settlement Scheme.
In order to be eligible for ILR, the applicant only needs to have been resident in the UK for a continuous five-year period. They are not required to have worked in the UK, held comprehensive sickness insurance or otherwise have been a ‘qualified person’. Certain periods of absence will be discounted.
EEA nationals and their family member(s) who have not lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years will be granted pre-settled status (also known as limited leave to remain). This can be converted to ILR after five years.
Again, there are no specific requirements that an applicant needs to meet other than being a resident of the UK.
The Home Office’s position is that its caseworkers will look for reasons to grant applications. Applicants may be refused for reasons of suitability, for example, if they are serious or persistent criminals or pose a security threat to the UK.
EU Settlement Scheme applications are made online. An app is available to use for those who have access to a compatible device.
Those making an application through the app will be able to scan their identity documents and will be able to use their National Insurance number as evidence of their residency in the UK, with the Home Office then making relevant checks with the HMRC, DWP, etc. Alternative evidence can be relied on if the applicant has not held a National Insurance number throughout the period of residence they wish to be taken into account.
There are alternative measures in place for those who do not have access to the app.
There is no government fee to make an application under the scheme and the Home Office expects to make a decision on the majority of cases within two weeks.
Further information regarding the EU Settlement Scheme requirements, the application process and evidence that can be relied on can be found here.
Naturalisation as a British citizen
Under current legislation, anyone who holds an EU Permanent Residence document is able to stay in the UK indefinitely. They can apply to naturalise as a British citizen after demonstrating that they have been free from immigration restrictions for 12 months, unless married to a British citizen, in which case they are eligible to apply to naturalise immediately.
The same applies to those who have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, other than they will need to provide evidence that they exercised what are known as treaty rights in the UK. You can find further information on this here.
EU Settled and Pre-Settled Status Scheme applications: How we can help
The vast majority of EEA nationals and their family members will be able to make an application via the app without the need for assistance.
If you would prefer to have legal advice and assistance, please contact us.