This article provides an overview of the EU settlement scheme, who can apply and how to do so.
What is the EU settlement scheme?
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, made between the UK and the EU. (Separate agreements were made between the UK and Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland). The terms of the Withdrawal Agreement included the current transitional period, which is expected to continue until 31 December 2020.
The EU Settlement Scheme gives EU/EEA/Swiss nationals the opportunity to protect their residence in the UK after the transition period has ended. Applicants who apply to the scheme will either be granted pre-settled or settled status, after a successful application.
Important to know: There will be no restrictions to studying in the UK for those who are granted permission under the EU Settlement Scheme, whilst it is valid.
What is the difference between Pre-settled and Settled status?
Pre-settled status is granted to an EU/EEA/Swiss National who has not lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years. Pre-settled status is valid for 5 years and allows you to study, live and work in the UK. Once you have been in the UK for 5 years, you will then be able to apply to switch to settled status, as long as you meet the 5 years’ continuous residence requirement, also known as ‘continuous qualifying period’. (Annex 1 – Definitions – for CQP)
Important to know:
- If you are hoping to be eligible to apply for settled status at a later date, you should ensure that any absences from the UK are “permitted absences”. Permitted absences are up to a total of 6 months (including lots of short trips) within a 12-month period, or 1 continuous absence which is less than 12 months and for an important reason (e.g. study, work, ill health, pregnancy).
- If you are absent from the UK for longer than a permitted absence and less than 2 years, you should still retain your pre-settled status, but may no longer be eligible to apply for settled status at a later date. 'Pre-settled' status will be lost after a continuous absence of more than two years from the UK.
Settled status is granted to EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have lived in the UK for 5 years, and meet the UKVI continuous qualifying period criteria. (CQP – living in the UK for a continuous 5-year period and not been absent from the UK for either more than 6 months in a 12-month period and/or one instance of up to 12 months absence for an ‘important’ reason)
Important to know: The 'continuous qualifying period' will need to begin before the 31 December 2020.
Important to know:
Settled Status is the equivalent indefinite leave to remain. However you will can lose your settled status if absent for more than 5 consecutive years (for Swiss nationals settled status will be lost after a continuous period of 4 years)
Should EU & EEA, Non- EU members of the EEA and Swiss citizens apply for the scheme?
EU & EEA , Swiss nationals and their eligible family members who want to remain in the UK after the end of the transitional period, 31 December 2020, will need to have permission to remain in the UK, either through the EU settlement scheme, or through another category of the Immigration Rules, that will be in place from 1 January 2021.
The EU Settlement Scheme protects your status beyond 31 December 2020 and once granted a status under the scheme, there will be no restrictions on studying in the UK.
Who can apply for the scheme?
You’ll be eligible to apply for the EU Settlement scheme if you meet any of the criteria below:
- You’re an EU citizen
- You’re from Norway, Lichtenstein or Iceland (Non EU EEA citizen)
- You’re a Swiss citizen
- You’re an eligible family member from any citizen from the above. Take a look at the guidance from the Home Office for more information about eligible family members.
How do I apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
To apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll need to fill in an application on the GOV.UK webpages, where you can find more information on what you’ll need to provide when applying to the scheme. During the application process you'll be asked to confirm your identity, provide evidence of the length of your stay in the UK and will be asked to declare any criminal convictions.
Important to know:
- EU/EEA/Swiss nationals resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be eligible to apply to the EU settlement scheme, which will protect your residence status in the UK beyond the end of the transitional period.
- The deadline for applying to the scheme is the 30 June 2021, as long as you are living in the UK by the 31 December 2020 – although we do advise those that are eligible to apply as soon as possible.
- The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) have some useful guidance about applying to the EU settlement scheme.
What happens after I've applied for the scheme?
If your application is successful, you will receive an email confirming your settled or pre-settled status.
Important to know:
- The EU Settlement Scheme is an immigration application, therefore, you should ensure you are eligible and have the relevant documentation available before submitting your application.
- If your application is refused, this may have an impact on your immigration history, so please ensure you read the most up-to-date guidance available before applying or contact the Visa and International Student Advice for further advice.
- If you are hoping to be eligible to apply for settled status at a later date, you should ensure that any absences from the UK are “permitted absences”. Permitted absences are up to a total of 6 months (including lots of short trips) within a 12-month period, and/or 1 continuous absence which is less than 12 months and for an important reason (e.g. study) if you need further advice on this, please contact Visa and International Student Advice.
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss student and you're looking to either interrupt your studies, transfer to another programme of studies, or withdraw from your studies, please refer to our online module EU/EEA/Swiss students and Change of Circumstances.