By the end of May 5, the Home Office said that 605,800 applications had been received since the scheme opened in March 2019. As of June 28, over 5.2 million applications had been finalised. Moreover, 2.7 million had been granted settled status, 2.2 million had been given pre-settled status, 94,000 had been refused, 72,100 had been withdrawn or voided, and 74,900 had been deemed invalid.
The countries with the highest numbers of applications were Poland with 975,000 and Romania with 918,000.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme was launched in March 2019 following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and allowed EU citizens, EEA citizens, Swiss citizens, and their eligible family members to register as settled residents in the UK. Settled Status was on offer to anyone who could prove that they had been in the UK continuously for five years or more before December 31, 2020.
Settled Status allows EU citizens to continue living, working, and studying in the UK on an indefinite basis. Settled Status also enables individuals to retain full access to healthcare, and, where eligible, public funds, including pensions and state benefits.
Individuals with Settled Status continue to have the same rights and benefits under the previous free movement rules and EU and EEA citizens and their family members are entitled to leave the UK for up to five years without losing their status. For Swiss citizens and their family members, Settled Status will be lost after a continuous absence of four years or more. Any child of a person with Settled Status born in the UK will automatically be classed as a British citizen.
It is important to note the EU Settled Status is not an automatic right, and European citizens and their families would have needed to apply for, and be granted, Settled Status.
Pre-Settled Status was made available to EU citizens who had been in the UK for less than five years by the end of 2020.
Pre-Settled Status gives successful applicants the right to stay in the UK for five years, at which time they can apply for full settled status. As of May 31, Pre-Settled Status had been granted to 2.28 million applicants.
Individuals with Pre-Settled Status who are absent from the UK for more than six months within any 12-month period of the five-year qualifying period of residency will lose their right to apply for full Settled Status, unless they can prove exceptional circumstances.
Absence due to illness with COVID-19 or due to forced quarantine may be considered as an ‘exceptional circumstance’ under the absence requirement.
Settled Status vs Permanent Residence
UK Permanent Residence and EU Settled Status are not the same. Before Brexit, EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals did not need to apply for a permanent residence card in the UK to prove their status if they had legally resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years. However, the document was needed to apply for UK citizenship. Now that the UK has left the European Union, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens can no longer apply for a permanent residence card in the UK and are, instead, required to apply for EU Settled Status.
If you already have permanent residence and apply for Settled Status, you will not have to prove you have five years of continuous residence in the UK.
Missed the Deadline?
Anyone who has not applied or has not received an answer to a late application would generally not be able to work or receive benefits. They could also face charges for using the NHS. In England, private landlords must check the immigration status of tenants. Without legal status, individuals could therefore lose housing.
Note that this is different for those who applied before the June 30 deadline but have yet to receive an answer from the UK Government (or are awaiting a final judicial review of a refusal). Indeed, these persons continue to benefit from the same rights held before December 31, 2020.
The UK Government has promised to be pragmatic and flexible to late applications, claiming that individuals who have received a certificate proving they have applied will have their legal rights protected while officials process their applications.
The Home Office says that the scheme remains “indefinitely” open – but only if the individual can show they had reasonable grounds for missing the June 30 deadline.
The deadline to apply was June 30, 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:
- you have a later deadline – for example, you joined a family member who was living in the UK by December 31, 2020 or after 1 April 2021
- you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by June 30 2021 – for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse