Deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme fast approaching
| Alexander Finch

Deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme fast approaching

Read Manager Alexander Finch's blog on the upcoming deadline for Europeans to apply for settled status

EU Settlement Scheme Deadline - 30 June 2021

With the Brexit transition period over, the 30 June deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is fast approaching.

Where EEA nationals have completed a historic period of residence in the UK in excess of five years, it is likely that they will qualify to obtain settled status (permanent residence) under the EU Settlement Scheme, provided they apply before the 30 June 2021 deadline. This includes where they are now living outside the UK (overseas beneficiaries, which we have highlighted before).

Applying to the EUSS is subject to the following broad tests:

The applicant is an EEA national (or a family member): Where an EEA national is eligible for settled status their children under the age of 21 or dependent will also qualify directly for settled status, regardless of whether the child has completed a five year period of residence in the UK, and regardless of nationality.

The applicant has lived in the UK for at least five years at some point: The five year period can have been at any time, provided it can be evidenced.  During the five years, the applicant must not have had a 12 month period during which they were away for more than 180 days in total. Days on which the individual crosses the UK border count as present in the UK. So for example if an individual left the UK on Monday and next returned on Wednesday, they would have been absent for one day (the Tuesday) only. As an exception to the 180/365 day rule, a single absence of up to 12 months is allowable on one occasion during the five years, provided it is for an important reason such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training, an overseas posting or pandemic.

To prove the five year period of residence, individuals may rely upon the National Insurance record that is generated when a person is employed in the UK. If this is available, applicants may not need to provide many documents to evidence their claim. Where this record is incomplete, or the individual has not been employed, they may rely upon any of a number of documents, including self-assessment annual tax return, bank statements, mortgage statements, pension contributions, P60s or other correspondence addressed to them in the UK.

There is no requirement that the individual was covered by a policy of comprehensive sickness insurance during the five year period.

The applicant has not since been away from the UK for more than five years at a time: Provided the individual crossed the UK border for any purpose (e.g. landside transit) and can provide proof (for example a bank or credit card statement showing spending in the UK, or a used travel ticket confirming entering the UK), this keeps eligibility going for another five years.  A trip of just a few hours back to the UK accompanied by proof of purchasing a coffee at the airport, would be enough.

The individual is not ‘unsuitable’: In order for an individual to be unsuitable they would in general need to have serious criminal convictions.

Myths surrounding applying for settled status

Some eligible applicants may be put off from applying to the scheme. I've outlined below some of the myths surrounding the EUSS. 

X          Difficult application process

The process to apply to the EUSS is online. In most cases the applicant can apply from home by scanning the contactless chip in their passport. Physical documents do not need to be submitted, and there is no appointment to attend (if the applicant holds an EEA passport). Once the application is approved, status is issued in a secure electronic form and links to the person’s passport when they travel to the UK or need to prove their right to work to a bank, employer or other third party.

X          Travelling to the UK

The application can be made from anywhere in the world but needs to be made on an EU/UK smartphone.

X          Future intentions

The application does not involve any declaration on the applicant’s future intentions. It is solely focused on eligibility, and the historical fact of residence.  Making the application does not imply that the individual intends to return to the UK in future, or should be treated as UK-domiciled.

X          UK activity requirement

There is no requirement that the individual was economically active, or contributed above any tax threshold, during their historic five years of residence in the UK.

X          Language / knowledge of life in the UK test

There is no language or other knowledge test to apply for settled status.

Qualifying EEA nationals must apply by 30 June 2021 to take advantage of their rights.

Under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, the UK is entitled to impose a deadline on applications. There will be provisions to accept late applications in exceptional circumstances, but these are not likely to include those living outside the UK.

Those with settled status under the scheme have a lifetime right to return to the UK, provided they never spend more than five years away at one time. They can also bring family members with them. If they do not apply, they will have to pay the full costs of sponsorship if they return in future. These fees are some of the highest in the world. By way of example, a sponsored worker bringing with them a family of a partner and three children, would at current prices face government fees of GBP 24,589 (comprising UKVI visa fees, immigration health surcharge, immigration skills charge and sponsorship fees) to obtain visas for 5 years for themselves and their family. In contrast, an application to the EUSS is free.

If you need any further details on the EU Settlement Scheme, contact me on [email protected]This blog was published on 22 March 2021, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please visit our COVID-19 microsite, subscribe to our alerts and follow us LinkedIn.