Marta Mendiondo Senior Immigration Consultant
Attention European citizens: the government’s deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is fast approaching on 30 June 2021
EEA, Swiss citizens and their family members resident in the UK must apply to the EU settlement scheme by the end of June to retain their residency and work rights in the UK. Irish citizens do not have to apply but can do so if they wish.
Who is required to apply for the EU settlement scheme?
This requirement applies to all European citizens regardless of the length of their residency in the UK, their marriage to British citizens, or their age. Minors, elderly persons and those not working must still submit their application by the deadline. If you hold a blue card certifying permanent residence, or a biometric residence card as the family member of an EEA citizen issued under the EEA Regulations, you must also apply, regardless of the expiry date shown on your documents.
For those residents who arrived in the UK prior to the introduction of the Free Movement Directive in 2006, and had Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) granted under the British domestic rules, this application is not mandatory. Nevertheless the EU Settlement Scheme offers a more generous Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is not lost after two years away from the country, but five, and does not require that the person comes back to the UK with a view to settle. A one day visit under the EUSS resets the absence clock back to zero. We highly recommend all eligible EEA and Swiss citizens to apply under the EU settlement scheme to benefit from this additional flexibility should they wish to relocate abroad in the future. This will also generate an online and up to date record of your right to live in the UK. Most grants of “old fashioned” ILR only have a stamp in their long expired passports, which can be easily misplaced, as the Windrush generation can attest.
Who can benefit from the EU settlement scheme?
This scheme is particularly relevant for those applicants who no longer live in the UK, but resided in the country over a consecutive five year period in the past. They too can benefit from this status, as long as they make the application in time. Family members, where eligible, can also be sponsored by the main applicant, meaning that the UK can leave the door open for a potential relocation to the UK, under a category that does not restrict work or studies to a specific sponsor, and remains free from government fees and surcharges.
What happens to people who have not accrued five years' residence?
For those who have not accrued five years residence, but arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020 at 23 hours, they will be offered presettled status, also known as Limited Leave to Remain (LLR). The grant will be valid for five years from the day of approval, and allows enough time to build up the necessary residence to later apply for settled status, before the expiry of the applicant’s presettled status.
Individuals who are living in the UK with presettled status, they must bear in mind that their status is not subject to continue in employment, holding private medical insurance or any other requirements, other than living in the UK for at least six months in any twelve month period, on a rolling basis. One absence of up to twelve months can be allowed for important reasons such as maternity, studies or a temporary posting abroad. Covid related absences are permitted only in limited circumstances, but the Home Office has recently indicated that their guidance will be amended to allow more flexibility in this respect. If this is your case you should seek expert personalised immigration advice urgently.
Holders of settled and presettled status can both sponsor direct family members where they meet the criteria under the EUSS. If they do not meet the requirements, they may also sponsor them under the domestic immigration routes, subject to the relevant rules.
How do I apply?
For more information on applying for the EUSS, you can visit the page on the .gov website here.