The UK is no longer in the European Union (EU). What does that mean for EU nationals who live and work here?
Anyone currently living in the UK who is an EU citizen is required to apply for the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) by the 30th June 2021 to be legally allowed to stay in the UK (see ‘Who needs to apply?’ section below for more details). To apply, most individuals must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. If you are a family member of someone who has already applied for the scheme, and you arrived after the December deadline you may be eligible to apply.
Successful applicants will be given either settled or pre-settled status. For more information on these two statuses please visit https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/what-settled-and-presettled-status-means.
Why is it crucial to apply?
After the UK has fully left the EU, people from EU countries are no longer able to freely live and work here in the way they could beforehand.
From 1 July 2021 if a person is present in the UK without a regulated status, they will be considered unlawfully resident. That person will face restrictions on rights and entitlements in the UK and will fall within the UK government’s immigration policies until such time that they obtain pre-Settled Status or Settled Status.
This means they will not have access to jobs, the rental market, healthcare, social services, and other rights, and they may be subject to detention and ultimately removal from the UK.
While there may be situations where one is eligible to apply after the deadline has passed, the impact of an unlawful residence status will be devastating, and it will continue until such time that the Home Office decides on your application. While your application is being processed your rights and entitlements will be paused until it is decided. Only obtaining pre-settled or settled status can solve this problem.
For this reason, we strongly advise those who haven’t yet applied to apply to the scheme as soon as possible. The application may take days, weeks, and in some cases months. If you apply close to the deadline, it is unlikely that your application will be decided before 1 July 2021. If it takes weeks or months for the application to be processed and decided, your rights and entitlements are likely to be interrupted during the length of the application processing period.
The sooner you make the application the more likely you will receive pre-settled or settled status before 30 June 2021.
Submitting the application is free of charge. You can do it by visiting https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status and PBIC’s trained advisors are available to support you with the process free of charge.
Who needs to apply?
Except in a few cases, you need to apply if:
- you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- You’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but your family member is (or is an eligible person of Northern Ireland)
The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
This means you need to apply even if you:
- were born in the UK but are not a British citizen
- have a UK ‘permanent residence document’
- are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who does not need to apply – including if they’re from Ireland
- are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen with a British citizen family member
If you have children, you need to apply for them separately.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you have a family member who is an eligible person of Northern Ireland, you may be able to choose which way you apply.
Who else can apply
You can apply to join your EU, EEA, Swiss family member if they started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. You can either:
- apply from outside the UK, if you have a certain type of passport, identity card or residence document
- come to the UK on an EU Settlement scheme family permit and apply to the settlement scheme once you’re here
Irish citizens do not need to apply to the settlement scheme. If they choose to, they can apply from within the UK regardless of how they entered.
If you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
You also may be able to apply if:
- you used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK (but you’ve separated, they’ve died or the family relationship has broken down)
- you’re the family member of a British citizen and you lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
- you’re the family member of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
- you have a family member who is an eligible person of Norther Ireland
- you’re the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- you’re the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer
- you’re the family member of a *‘frontier worker’
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you moved to the UK before it joined the EU
You only need to apply if you do not have indefinite leave to remain. If you do have indefinite leave to remain, you’ll usually have a stamp in your passport or a letter from the Home Office saying this.
*A frontier worker is defined by Regulation (EC) No. 883/2004, Article 1(f) as: ‘any person pursuing an activity as an employed or self-employed person in a Member State and who resides in another Member State to which he returns as a rule daily or at least once a week.