EU Settlement Scheme Explainer

In July 2018 the UK Home Office published guidance on a new EU citizen settlement scheme in which all EU citizens in the UK would need to apply for to secure the right to stay in the UK after Brexit.

What is it?

EU citizens (with the exception of Irish citizens) and their close family members living in the UK will need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme to obtain new immigration status to continue to live in the UK as it leaves the EU. In the current situation for EU nationals, those who have had five years exercising treaty rights (e.g. rights to work, study) could apply for permanent residence. In the new scheme, those EU nationals who have had five continuous years of residence in the UK can apply for settled status.


Who can apply?

EU citizens who have had five continuous years of residence in the UK and their family members. Irish citizens do not need to apply as the UK government asserted that Irish citizens enjoy a right of residence in the UK that is not reliant on the UK’s membership of the EU.


How do you apply?

The application process is online, and most EU nationals will be required to prove their identity, demonstrate residence and declare any criminal convictions. If you are from outside the EU you will need to provide proof of your relationship to your EU citizen family member. The cost to apply is £65 for individuals over 16 or £32.50 for under 16s. However, the fee is waived if you have obtained permanent residence already, you already have valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK or you are a child in care.


When do you apply?

The scheme will open fully by March 2019 and the deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. However, you can still apply for permanent residence now and this is advised for EEA nationals planning to apply for British citizenship and EEA / non-EEA couples who are divorcing.


What if you do not have five continuous years of residence?

If you have not satisfied five continuous years of continuous residence by 31 December 2020, you can apply for pre-settled status (provided you have arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020).


Support for organisations providing advice and assistance for settled status applications?

Voluntary and Community sector organisations can apply for a grant from the UK Home Office to deliver practical assistance to vulnerable or at-risk EU citizens and their family members.


Outstanding concerns about the EU Settlement Scheme

  • Home Office haven't yet confirmed what the provisions will be for frontier (cross-border) workers.
  • Will those with settled status have the same access to rights and entitlements as those with permanent residence?
  • The introduction of the scheme and the confusion and uncertainty around it may have knock on effects for non-EU non-UK/Irish nationals. 
  • What will the criminality checks entail and what will be constituted as a serious crime?
  • How will this work for seasonal workers?

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