Eu flag and gb flag

Last chance to apply: settled status explained

Reading time
4 minutes

If you are a EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK then it is likely that you will have heard of the EU settlement scheme. If 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. 

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 more than five years, it is likely you will receive settled status but not guaranteed. Read on to find out about eligibility for settled status, how you apply, your rights going forward and more!


Are you eligible for settled status?

You are eligible for settled status if you are a EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and if you have lived in the UK for at least five years in a row, also known as a continuous residence. You may also be eligible if you are a family member of an EU citizen living in the UK. 


What is a continuous residence?

Continuous residence means that you have lived in the UK for at least five years in a row and within these five years you haven’t left the UK for more than six months in a twelve month period. For example, if you have lived in the UK since 2015 but in 2017 you left the UK for eight months then returned to the UK, this would mean you do not have a continuous residence and therefore would not be eligible for settled status. There are some exceptions to this which you can read more about here

If you are applying for settled status but your continuous residence has been affected because of coronavirus restrictions then you can read the official government guidance here. Depending on how long you were outside of the UK for and your circumstances, this may not have an impact on your eligibility for settled status.

If you do not have a continuous residence but you started living in the UK by 31st December 2020, then you will not be eligible for settled status but you will be eligible for pre-settled status.


Will your rights change?

With 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 are also able to access public funds such as benefits or pensions. 


How long can you spend outside of the UK?

With settled status you can leave the UK for a period of up to five years and you only have to come back to the UK for a few days to make sure you keep your status. If you are away from the UK longer than five years then you may lose your status. 


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 if you do not get the status you think you are eligible for?

If you think you are eligible for settled status but you only received pre-settled status then your decision letter from the Home Office will let you know why. Your decision letter will also let you know if you are able to apply again, ask for the decision to be looked at again or appeal the decision. You can ask a question about the scheme here or contact the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre by phone. 


I already have pre-settled status, when can I apply for settled status?

If you already have pre-settled status, you are able to apply for settled status as soon as you have completed five years of continuous residence in the UK. You have to apply before your pre-settled status runs out but you do not have to wait until then. 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.


If you already have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), do you need to apply for settled status?

No, you do not need to apply for settled status if you already have ILR, however there are advantages if you do. If you apply for settled status you will be covered under the withdrawal agreement and will only lose your status after being out of the UK for five years unlike ILR which only allows a 2-year absence from the UK. Other differences under the withdrawal agreement include family reunion rights. 

If you already have ILR, you will not have to prove your five years of continuous residence. Find out more here about applying for the EU Settlement Scheme if you already have indefinite leave to remain.


How can you prove your status? 

You may need to prove you have 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 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 be entered 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.


When can I apply for citizenship?

You are able to apply for British citizenship after you have had settled status for twelve months. 


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 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


Here are some of the website that we recommend:

Communications Coordinator

Editor's picks