What you need to know in light of the fast-approaching deadline
The deadline for EU Settlement Scheme applications is fast approaching. European Union, European Economic Area and Swiss citizens and their family members need to apply to continue to live in the UK after the 30th of June 2021 deadline.
Most applicants will need to have been living in the UK since 31st December 2020. Family members of an eligible person from Northern Ireland can also apply to the scheme. Successful applicants will be able to continue to live and work in the UK beyond the 30th of June and will be granted either settled status or pre-settled status.
Those given settled statuses will usually have lived in the UK continuously for over five years, otherwise known as ‘continuous residence’. Those who meet the ‘continuous residence’ standard will have spent at least six months in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man over any given 12-month period for five consecutive years. There are a number of exemptions to this rule, including for those serving abroad in the armed forces, or periods of absences for up to 12 months in instances such as overseas work, study, or serious illness. Those granted settled status will also be able to apply for British citizenship.
Those who have not lived in the UK for five years in a row will usually be granted pre-settled status. After five years’ continuous residence pre-settled people can apply to switch their status to settled. The five-year period includes all the time spent in the UK to date, so it does not have to start from the date on which pre-settled status is granted.
The Home Office issued guidance to applicants whose ‘continuous residence’ has been impacted by the pandemic on 15th December 2020. However, the guidance has been recently withdrawn (on 6th May), and is set to be replaced by updated guidance at the end of the month. Applicants who made an application based on the original guidance will be covered by this. Those wishing to make an application before the 31st May relaunched guidance should check to see whether their period of absence will be covered under the EU Settlement Scheme caseworker guidance ‘absences for an important reason’ criteria.
There are some extenuating circumstances, known as “reasonable grounds”, whereby late applications will be accepted. These are covered in full on pages 26 to page 44 of the caseworker guidance. Reasonable grounds examples include instances where a parent, guardian or local authority has failed to apply for a child; serious medical conditions; where applicants have been prevented from applying because of abusive partners; and other compelling or compassionate grounds.