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03 December 2021

EU Settlement Scheme – upgrading to settled status

Over 2.4 million people have been granted pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The status gives an individual limited leave to remain for 5 years. People with pre-settled status may have just arrived or spent less than 5 years in the UK at the point they applied to the EU Settlement Scheme or not been able to provide evidence of their residence in order to be granted settled status. After 5 years in the UK it is possible to apply for settled status.

We are often asked about converting to settled status and answer some of the frequent questions below.

When can I apply for settled status?

You can usually apply for settled status 5 years after you started living in the UK. This means that you do not need to wait until you have held pre-settled status for 5 years before applying. For example if you arrived in the UK in April 2018 and were granted pre-settled status in July 2020, you can apply for settled status in April 2023, provided you have documentary evidence of your continuous residence in the UK over the 5 year period where this will not be evident from your national insurance record.

You should apply for settled status before your pre-settled status expires.

My child will be 3 year old when I complete 5 years residence in the UK. Can they apply for settled status when I am eligible or do they need to wait?

Children under 21 can usually apply for settled status when their EEA national parent is eligible to apply. You will need to provide evidence of your family relationship when you submit the child’s application.

I have been absent from the UK for several long periods since I was granted pre-settled status. Can I still apply for settled status after 5 years?

You can spend up to 6 months outside the UK within any 12-month period without breaking your continuous residence in the UK.

Furthermore, there are some exceptions for absences of up to 12 months for an important reason such as serious illness, study abroad, pregnancy and childbirth. If you have a single absence for an important reason of up to 12 months, this will not break your continuous residence in the UK.

Absences due to Covid-19, such as shielding, being in quarantine, travel restrictions etc will also be permitted; however where they are over 12 months the clock towards settled status is paused. For example, if you were absent due to Covid-19 for 14 months, 12 months will count towards the 5 years for settled status but the last 2 will not.

If you have two absences of 6-12 months, your continuous residence will not be broken provided one period was for an ‘important reason’ and the other period was for a Covid-19 related reason. Again the clock will be paused for any absences over 12 months. If you were absent due to pregnancy for 8 months in 2019 and then absent due to Covid-19 for 6 months in 2020, 12 months of the total absences would count towards the 5 years for settled status but the last 2 months would not count.

Documentary evidence of the absences will be required.

Will I get a biometric residence card to prove my immigration status? 

EEA nationals granted pre-settled or settled status are not issued with a biometric residence card (BRC) confirming their status. Instead, they can prove their status, for example to an employer or landlord, using an online service.

Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals granted status under the EU settlement scheme who did not hold a BRC when they applied are being issued with a card.

However, non-EEA family members of EEA nationals who held a valid BRC under the EEA Regulations when they applied to the EU Settlement Scheme have not been issued with new BRCs. As these are no longer valid they will need to apply for a new BRC even if the cards are still in date.

Furthermore, when an applicant upgrades from pre-settled status to settled status, they will need to make a separate application to the Home Office for a new BRC.

I have settled status and have recently had a baby. Do I need to apply for pre-settled status for the baby?

A child born in the UK to a parent holding settled status at the time of their birth is a British citizen. If the parent does not hold settled status when the child is born, you would need to make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme for the child. If the parent is subsequently granted settled status, it may be possible to apply to register the child as a British citizen.

Can I apply for a British passport once I have settled status? 

Settled status is also known as indefinite leave to remain. It is a further step to become a British citizen. After an adult has held settled status for one year, they may be able to apply to naturalise as a British citizen, and once approved for a British passport.

If you require further information or have any questions about making an EU Settlement Scheme application, please contact Kathryn Bradbury.