European Union Settlement Scheme
The European Union Settlement Scheme is a scheme launched in 2019 by the Home Office to process the registration of EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom prior to its departure from the European Union.
The application process is predominately digital. Applicants are required to use an NFC-enabled device to scan the biometric chip on their relevant identification document, after which they are free to complete the application on any internet-enabled device.
During the early stages of the Scheme's rollout process, there was a £65 fee for applicants above the age of 16 (the fee was halved for younger applicants) at the point of application. This was, however, dropped following pressure from a number of groups and individuals.
To complete an application through the online portal, citizens must have a valid passport or national identity card, and may be asked to provide proof of continuous residence if checks with the Department for Work and Pensions and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs cannot confirm the duration of stay using the applicant's National Insurance number.
The EU Settlement Scheme applies to all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the United Kingdom prior to its departure from the European Union, and their family members. Relevant nationals who are not in their own right British nationals, or who do not already have indefinite leave to enter the UK or indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and who wish to remain in the United Kingdom, are required to apply under the Scheme lest they face enforcement action.
All applicants must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. 'Settled status' requires five years of continuous residence; this is defined as living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for five consecutive years, and for at least six months in any 12-month period during those years. Longer absences are permitted for specified reasons, such as one period of up to 12 months for childbirth, illness, study, training or a work posting.
Citizens resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 and exercising Treaty rights for a continuous period exceeding five years ('continuous residence') will usually receive 'settled status' – formally Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules. They are able to remain in the UK as long as they wish, subject to conditions, and retain the same rights to employment, welfare, education and public funds as previously; they may also apply for British citizenship.
Citizens with 'settled status' may spend up to exactly five continuous years outside the United Kingdom without impacting their immigration status, and will lose their 'settled status' if they spend any continuous time of five years and a day or longer outside the UK. Similarly, close family members may join citizens with 'settled status' before 31 December 2020, or 31 of December 2025 for the spouses and civil partners of Swiss citizens; these close family members must register on the Scheme when they become resident.
Children born in the UK to parents, at least one of whom is a citizen with 'settled status' at the time of the child's birth, automatically have British citizenship from birth. Children born in the UK, at least one of whose parents acquire 'settled status' after the child's birth, have an entitlement to acquire citizenship before the child's 18th birthday.
Citizens who started living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 but do not have five years' continuous residence at the time they apply, are usually granted pre-settled status. They are allowed to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date of grant, and can apply during that time to change their status to 'settled', on completing five years' continuous residence. Pre-settled status is lost if a continuous period of longer than two years is spent outside the UK.
In the period up to 31 May 2020, the Home Office had received 3,612,400 applications under the scheme, with 76,400 in May 2020 alone. Of these, 3,319,000 had been completed, with 57.47% of applicants receiving settled status, 41.20% receiving pre-settled status, and a further 1.32% resulting in another outcome (e.g. 28,900, 0.87%, were withdrawn or received a void outcome, 14,100, 0.42%, were invalid, and 900, 0.03% were refused. As of the end of May 2020, more applications had been received from Polish citizens (697,900) than any other nationality; the least from any EU country had been Luxembourg (1,000) and the least from any country had been Liechtenstein (fewer than 50).
- "Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)". gov.uk. UK Government. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- Walker, Peter (21 January 2019). "May drops £65 fee for EU nationals seeking post-Brexit settled status". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- "Immigration Rules Appendix EU". gov.uk. UK Government. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- "EU Settlement Scheme statistics, May 2020". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 August 2020.