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Last chance to apply: pre-settled status explained

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3 minutes

The procedures that Europeans have to go through to continue living in the UK because of Brexit can be confusing. We’re here to help clear some things up for you! 

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you want to continue living in the UK after 30th June 2021 (and you haven’t done so already), then you will need to apply for the EU settlement scheme. Depending on how long you have been living in the UK for, you will either receive pre-settled or settled status. If you have been living in the UK for less than five years, it is likely you will receive pre-settled status. 

How do you know if you are eligible for pre-settled status? How do you apply? And, what are your rights going forward? Read on to find out more about pre-settled status! 


Are you eligible for pre-settled status?

You are eligible for pre-settled status if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and started living in the UK before 31 December 2020. If you have lived in the UK for more than five years then you may be eligible for settled status and you can read more about eligibility for settled status here.


Will your rights change?

With pre-settled status, you will continue to have similar rights as you did before the transition period ended. These rights include being eligible for free healthcare, being able to work, being able to study and enrol in education as well being able to travel in and out of the UK. If you are eligible, you can also access public funds such as benefits or pensions. 


How do you apply? 

The application is simple and free of charge. You can get started on your application here. The first step in applying for the EU Settlement Scheme is proving your identity. To provide proof of your identity, the easiest way to do this is to use the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app which is available on iPhone or Android. If this option is not available to you, alternatively you can enter your document details online then send the physical document by post. You are also able to make an appointment to scan your documents in person but this is in limited capacity due to covid-19. 

After you have completed this step, you will be given instructions on how to complete the rest of your application online through the official portal. 


What do you need?

To prove your identity, you will need a valid passport or a valid national identity card as well as a digital photo of your face. You should also have your National Insurance number to hand during your application as if you are able to provide this, an automatic check of the HMRC and DWP databases will be able to take place to check if you are resident in the UK. 

If there is not enough information held about you on these databases then you may be asked to provide further evidence, a list of suitable documents to submit as further evidence can be found here.  


How long will you have to wait to hear?

The current expected processing time is five working days but can take up to a month and is  dependent on whether further information is needed. You will hear and receive your approval letter via the email address you provided during your application. When you have received this, we recommend printing it out or keeping it in an accessible folder on your email for future reference. If you have any questions about your application or have not heard back then you can find contact details here.


What do you need to know after you’ve applied?  

Pre-settled status is a temporary status and valid for only five years from the date you receive your approval letter. If you want to stay in the UK for longer then you must apply for settled status. You will need to closely monitor the time you spend outside of the UK as if you want to qualify for settled status you need to have five years continuous residence to be eligible. 


What does five years continuous residence mean? 

Continuous residence means that for five years in a row, you must have lived in the UK at least six months in every twelve month period. There are some exceptions to this which you can read more about here


When can you apply for settled status? 

You are able to apply for settled status once you have completed five years of continuous residence in the UK and you do not have to wait until your pre-settled status runs out. As soon as you have five years of continuous residence you should apply for settled status regardless of when you applied for pre-settled status. Read more about applying for settled status here.


How can you prove your status?

You may need to prove you have pre-settled status to third parties such as a landlord or potential employers. You are not given physical proof of your status, although you can prove your status to someone online via this portal

In order to do this, you will need to answer a couple of questions and you will need to have your identity document (passport, national identity card or biometric residence card) to hand. A limited time code will then be sent to you via text or email. This can then be entered on the portal to check your status or given to someone else if they need to check your status.


What are the consequences of not applying for pre-settled or settled status?

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021, but you need to prove you lived in the UK before 31 December 2020. If you do not apply by the deadline, your residence in the UK will become unlawful. You will find it increasingly more difficult or impossible to rent a property, access work, healthcare and other services.


Where can you find help or find out more information?

There are many places where you can go for help or to find out more information about applying for pre-settled status. You may be able to find support from others who have already applied for the EU Settlement Scheme through expat groups on Facebook.


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