Following a referendum in 2016, the UK decided to leave the European Union (EU).
If you are an EU/European Economic Area (EEA) citizen or the family member* of an EU/EEA citizen, to continue living, working and studying in the UK after it leaves the EU, you will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). The application is free.
Through the EUSS, you can be granted ‘Settled Status’ if you have been in the UK for 5 years or more. This gives you a right to remain in the UK with no time limit.
You can also be granted ‘Pre-Settled Status’ if you have been in the UK for less than 5 years. This gives you a right to remain in the UK for up to 5 years, after which you can apply for Settled Status.
*Family members are people from outside the EU whose right to be in the UK depends on their family relationship with an EU citizen. There are two types of family members. There are close family members, which means a spouse (husband/wife), civil partner, child under 21, parent or grandparent. The second type are extended family members, which can include durable partners (a current relationship which has continued for at least 2 years), and other relatives such as brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece or cousin provided that they depend on the EU/EEA sponsor in some way.
You have the right to travel in and out of the UK and to remain in the UK permanently. You do not have to show that you are a student, working, self-employed, job-seeking or self-sufficient to remain in the UK.
You can access and apply for healthcare, education, pensions and benefits on the same basis as a UK national.
You can engage in business, take or change employment, or be self-employed without needing permission from a Government department.
You can apply for British citizenship after living in the UK for one year from when you are granted Settled Status (there is a fee for this).
If you have a child that is born in the UK whilst you are living here , they will automatically be a British citizen.
You will lose your Settled Status if you spend 5 years or more outside the UK at one time (4 years if you’re a Swiss citizen).
Your close family members can join you in the UK before 31 December 2020 (31 December 2025 if you’re a Swiss citizen) but they will need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. There are certain conditions under which they can join you after 31 December 2020 - if you are unsure of which conditions you fulfil, you should contact Contact AIRE Centre for free legal advice.
You have the right to remain in the UK for five years. You do not have to show that you are a student, working, self-employed, job-seeking or self-sufficient to remain in the UK during this period.
When you have been in the UK for five years, as long as you have not been outside the UK for six months in any of those years, you can then apply for Settled Status. If you have spent more than 6 months outside of the UK, you may need to explain why.
You can spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing your Pre-Settled Status (you should avoid absences of 6 months or more if you hope to eventually apply for Settled Status, unless there is an important reason for the absence).
If you have a child in the UK, they will automatically be eligible for Pre-Settled Status (they will generally only be a British citizen if they qualify for this through their other parent who has British citizenship or settled status themselves).
You will not automatically be eligible to claim benefits or access healthcare, education and pensions in the UK. To do this, you must show that you are exercising a ‘qualifying right to reside’ e.g. you are a worker, self-employed or the family member of an EEA national worker, or the primary carer of a child of an EEA national worker (in this instance, the child must be in education)