Brexit FAQs

Because of Brexit, all EU nationals have to prove their right to live and work in the UK. If you arrived before January 2021, you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June 2021 deadline. Everyone arriving from January 2021 for the first time will need to comply with the new immigration system.

Read this guide to understand the EUSS, and resources available. If need help with your application, get in touch with an adviser.

Contents

Applying for the EUSS

Who is the EUSS for?

The EU Settlement Scheme is designed for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens (and their family members) who came to the UK before January 2021 and wish to continue living here. It’s important to apply by the 30 June 2021 deadline. Depending on the length of your stay in the UK, EUSS will grant you one of two statuses.

  • If you can prove five years of continuous residence, you will receive settled status (‘indefinite leave to remain’).
  • If your time in the UK was shorter than five years, you will likely receive pre-settled status (‘limited leave to remain’). 

How do I apply?

The easiest way to apply is online, although you can also obtain a paper form if your application includes special circumstances (such as not having a valid passport or ID Card). To request a paper form, contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre

The application will ask for information about your identity, residence in the UK, criminal record, and - if you are not an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen - your relationship to one. For the identity-checking section of the application, you can use the EU Exit: ID document check app, which is available on Android and iPhone and allows you to scan either a biometric passport or national identity card. A list of the documentation you can use to prove UK residence is detailed here. Check your email regularly - including your spam and junk folders - for any correspondence from the Home Office, including the outcome of your application.

What should I do if my ID has expired?

If your passport or national ID card has expired, try to renew it with the relevant national authority before applying to the scheme. Get in touch with your relevant national authority (embassy or consulate).

If you are unable to renew your ID on time, check with your national authority - you may find that your ID is still valid, even if it is expired. Certain countries have extended the validity of IDs, because of the Coronavirus pandemic. For information, go to page 46 of this document.

Proving your pre/settled status

 

How do I prove I have EUSS?

The whole process happens online. Go to the government page to log in to your EUSS application. You will need your date of birth, and details of the ID document and phone number or email address you used when you made your application. You will be able to issue a share code with a limited 30 day validity. With this share code and your date of birth, an employer, landlord, or education provider will be able to check your right to live and work in the UK. Learn more from the video.

I can't log in to my application. What should I do?

You may have trouble logging in if you lost your ID, phone number or email address you used when you first made your application, or when the details you provide don't match the details the Home Office holds for your application. Call the EU Settlement Resolution Centre at 0300 123 7379. Waiting times can be long, but it is the only way of proving your identity and re-setting your login details. Learn more about the EU Settlement Resolution Centre opening hours.

 

EUSS and absence (updated 12 June 2021)

I have pre-settled status, but have been out of the UK. Is my status affected?

You are allowed to be abroad for up to two years in a row before you lose your pre-settled status. So if you return before your status lapses you still can enjoy the same rights as before (working and accessing the NHS, for example). 

However, if you plan to apply for settled status (indefinite leave to remain) in the future, you should not accrue an absence of any more than six months, in any 12 months (with the exception of acceptable ‘important reasons’, explained below). This is because to be eligible for settled status, you must have been continuously resident in the UK for a five-year period. 

What is meant by ‘continuous residence’?

A five-year ‘continuous’ period starts when you move to the UK. You can leave the country, but only for up to six months at a time in each 12-month period. These six months can be taken at once, or in several shorter breaks that add up to six months. Absences are not calculated by calendar year, so if you were absent in 2019, for example, and then again in 2020, they will be added up if they happened within the same 12-month period. A new year does not reset the counter!

What are the ‘important reasons’ that can allow me to be abroad, without breaking my five-years’ continuous residence?

The Home Office provides a list of acceptable ‘important reasons’ for you to have been absent for a longer period of up to one year. Normally, only one such period of absence is permitted. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. But generally, they include the following circumstances:

  • You had coronavirus overseas and could not return to the UK.
  • You could not return to the UK due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. 
  • You were seriously ill.
  • You were studying or in vocational training. 
  • You were pregnant or giving birth. 
  • You had a posting overseas.
  • You were undertaking military or Crown service (in these scenarios, you can be absent for longer than 12 months without it breaking your continuous residence).

On 10th June, the Home Office confirmed that Covid-19 related absences count as an ‘important’ reason, meaning certain Covid-19 absences won’t break an applicant’s ‘continuity of residence’. 

The revised guidance says that EU citizens don’t have to have been ill with Covid-19 themselves and can, instead, have been: 

  • Self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance.
  • Caring for family members with Covid. 
  • Prevented from returning to the UK in time due to travel disruption.
  • Advised by your university that your course was moved to remote learning because of Covid and you were allowed to return to your home country to do this.
  • Advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country.
  • Absent from the UK for another reason relating to coronavirus (e.g. you left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer coronavirus restrictions elsewhere).

What if I’ve exceeded the 12-month maximum because of Covid?

If you were already absent from the UK for an important reason, such as childbirth, when a Covid-related issue prevented you from returning, then you can exceed the 12-month maximum without breaking your continuity of residence - for as long as you were absent from the UK because of Covid. 

However, it’s important to remember that any absence from the UK beyond the 12-month maximum won’t count towards the five year residence period you need to qualify for settled status. Your continuous qualifying period will be paused from the point your absence reached 12 months. It will resume from the day you return to the UK.

What if Covid stopped me returning from a planned break of no more than six months?

If you had intended to be absent from the UK for no more than six months, but couldn’t return to the UK within this time because of Covid then a single absence of up to 12 months will be treated as being for an important reason. As such, it won’t break your continuity of residence.

What if I already had a long absence for an important reason but I needed another because of Covid?

If you already accrued an absence of up to 12 months for an important reason but had to have a second period of absence exceeding six months (in any 12-month period) you will still be able apply to the EUSS if you can prove that one of these absences was because of Covid. Up to six months of your second absence will count towards your continuous qualifying period, but it will then be paused from that point until you return to the UK, at which point it will resume. 

For a list of evidence you can provide to prove a Covid-related absence, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-eu-settlement-scheme-guidance-for-applicants#history 

I’m worried I have broken my five-year continuous residence. What should I do?

The best approach in this situation is to be as prepared as you can. Keep good records to show why you had to travel or why you couldn’t return sooner. For example: emails from your university, work, family or doctors that show why you had to travel, and any medical records or emails from airline companies to demonstrate why you couldn't get back to the UK. Then seek advice from an OISC accredited adviser. The Home Office makes it clear that applications for settled status are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It is important to get the right advice for your case.

 

Bringing a family member to the UK

 

Can I bring my family members to the UK by using my EUSS status? 

Yes, you can. If you got your own status under EUSS, close family members (a spouse, child or grandchild, parent or grandparent) can join you in the UK. But they must apply before they travel to the UK. If your family members are from the EU/EEA/Switzerland, they must apply to the EUSS as joining family members. The application is made online, and they will only need their biometric passport/ID as well as evidence to prove their relationship or/and dependency to you. 

If they are non-EU nationals they must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit first. They’ll need a valid passport and documents proving the relationship (e.g. a marriage certificate or birth certificate).

The family permit will give them leave to enter the UK, as well as work and study for six months. Once they’re in the UK, they have three months or until the expiry of the family permit (whichever is earlier) to apply to the EUSS.

Following an application for EUSS, joining family members not from the EU/EEA/Switzerland will need to sign up for a biometrics appointment via the Home Office’s partner, UKVCAS. They need to do this to be issued a Biometric Residence Card (BRC). The BRC will arrive by post within 10 days of receipt of the ‘decision letter’ from the Home Office. If their details change (for example, they changed their address), they can call the EU Settlement Resolution Centre on 0300 123 7379. BRCs are not issued to EEA nationals. 

What is the deadline for joining family members?

There is no deadline. However, for applications being made after 30 June 2021, parents and grandparents will need to show evidence of financial, medical or other dependency. You must also show that the relationship between applicant and sponsor started no later than 31 December 2020.

What about a long-term partner I’m not married to? Can they come to the UK?

Yes, usually if you have lived together for at least two years before 31 December 2020 and they hold a document issued by the relevant authority confirming this relationship exists in EU law (such as a residence card). If you don’t have these documents, you will need to prove that you were in this relationship on or before 31st December 2020 and that your relationship is still ongoing. Evidence could include: joint bank statements, utility bills, or a tenancy agreement in joint names. There are other serious grounds that could be considered even if you have not lived together for two years. For example, if you had a child together on or before 31st December 2020 and can evidence this with, for example, a birth certificate or a custody agreement.

EUSS for Children

 

Do children have to apply?

Yes. Unless children have British citizenship, they will need settled or pre-settled status to join you or to continue living in the UK. Children are considered to be any child of an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen under the age of 21. Older children of age 21 and over can also apply, if they can prove that they are financially or medically dependent on their parent/s, and on staying with them in the UK.  

How can I get EUSS for my child?

Children can apply individually. Or, as a parent or guardian, you can link their application to yours. First, make sure that you, the adult, have applied. You don’t need to wait for a decision from the Home Office. You’ll just need your Unique Application Number - as the parent or guardian being linked to. Then, you’ll need an email address. You will also need to provide proof of your relationship to the child via a birth certificate and, if you have pre-settled status, proof of your child’s residence in the UK. This could be a letter from the child’s school or GP. 

With a linked application, your child will receive the same status (pre-settled or settled) as the parent/guardian being linked to, regardless of the child’s length or residence in the UK. 

What if my child doesn't have an ID?

Try to obtain an ID for the child as soon as possible by contacting the relevant national authority. If you think you will be unable to obtain an ID by 30 June 2021, ask for a paper application form by calling the EU Settlement Resolution Centre on 0300 123 7379.

The application form will be sent within 10-14 working days to your address. You must return the completed form with all documents (originals ONLY) attached to the Home Office. They aim to review all documents within three working days.

How do I bring my children to the UK from abroad?

There are two different Home Office application routes for children joining you in the UK. 

For children joining under the family members route, you should apply for pre-settled status for them. The second option is for the child to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit while they are still abroad, then make the EUSS application once they are in the UK. Children who enter with a family permit will have three months to apply for the EUSS (if they arrive after 1 April 2021). 

Please note that it isn’t possible to apply for pre-settled status in the UK while holding visitor status. If you have EEA nationality, we would encourage you to apply for pre-settled status for your child, as this is a less complicated process. 

Are my children British citizens?

Being born in the UK does not automatically make a child a British citizen. Children acquire British citizenship in a more limited set of circumstances, depending on the status of their parents. In summary, the children of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens may be British if at least one parent held British citizenship, or was settled in the UK at the time of their birth. If you are pregnant and already have settled status, your child will automatically receive British citizenship. 

If you aren’t sure, check and get advice from an OISC-accredited adviser. 

 

Arriving in the UK from January 2021

 

I have never been to the UK before/I have been briefly a few years back but I do not have status under the EUSS. Can I come to the UK and work now? 

Free movement with the European Union (EU) ended on 31 December 2020 and there are now new arrangements for EU citizens who have not been to the UK before (or visited briefly in the past, but did not obtain status under EUSS). 

If you just wish to visit from 1st Jan 2021 you can do so for up to 90 days without a visa as a tourist/visitor, but you will not have the right to work. 

If you are looking to come to the UK to work and live, you need to apply under the new immigration system. Employers will need a sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the UK. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020. Always clarify with a potential employer how they will sponsor you as a worker in the UK. 

If you previously lived in the UK for five years and have not been absent for more than five years in a row you can claim settled status under ‘historic residence’. 

For more information: https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers

Get help with your EUSS application

Where can I get help?

You can find a list of all Home Office accredited immigration advisers, including our team, online. But it’s important to understand if your application is ‘simple’, or ‘complex’, and to get a suitably qualified adviser. If your application is simple, any adviser who holds OISC Level 1 should be qualified to help. For complex cases, you should speak to an adviser with OISC Level 2 or above.

What is a simple application?

An application is considered simple and within the remit of OISC Level 1 advisers, if it is for an EEA national, or anyone with a permanent residence document or Indefinite Leave to Remain.  You can read the guidance here.

What is a complex case?

An application will require an adviser qualified above Level 1 if it refers to someone who entered illegally, who overstayed a visa, where durable partners and other ‘dependent relatives’ do not have the necessary documentation,  where you are unable to prove required documentation (for example, you don’t have a valid identity and nationality document), or where a non-EEA applicant does not have evidence relating to their EEA family member. You can read the guidance here.

For complex cases, you can contact our friends at Settled, as well as immigraiton solicitors at Seraphus and Here for Good

What EUSS cases can the Work Rights Centre help with?

We can make - or advise you on - applications for settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS scheme when there are no ‘complex’ issues; that is to say, where you meet the qualifying criteria, have supporting evidence and no criminal history. We are also able to advise on family permits and applications via the ‘joining family members’ route where the relationship between applicant and sponsor is a direct one (i.e. a child under 21, a dependent parent or a spouse). In some situations, we may refer you to an adviser with a higher OISC accreditation.