EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement scheme is the UK’s government’s replacement for free movement regulations which permit EU nationals and their family members to relocate, work and study in the UK. It has been piloted since late 2018, and is due to go fully live prior to Brexit day on 29 March 2019.


Who does it benefit & who’s not covered?

The scheme offers protection for EU citizens living and working here either before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020, if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified and approved, or by 29 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

EU citizens and their families arriving in the UK after either of these dates will not be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, depending on whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal. These individuals will have to apply for leave to remain under domestic immigration rules.

How can I apply & who is eligible?

You must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme using the online application form, and the relevant process set out in that form for providing proof of identity and nationality through the use of the identity verification app.

The public beta phase now in operation allows applications from EU nationals/family members who have previously been issued with a registration certificate or residence card. An application cannot currently be made by EEA nationals, citizens of Switzerland, or those relying on their EU law rights as a family member of a British citizen (‘Surinder Singh’ cases) or of a dual British/EU citizen (‘Lounes’ cases).

Irish citizens have a right to reside in the UK separate from their rights under EU law, so they do not have to apply under the scheme.

Relevant considerations

Your application will be approved if you meet suitability requirements, broadly relating to your good character, and eligibility requirements:

  • If you have completed 5 years’ continuous qualifying residence in the UK, you will have achieved settled status and be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • If you have up to 5 years’ residence, you will be granted 5 years’ limited leave, known as pre-settled status

Residence is treated as “continuous” if you have spent at least 6 months in any 12 month period here. Once settled status is secured, it can only be lost through an absence of 5 years from the UK, or through withdrawal, e.g. if you commit a serious crime and are excluded from the country.

Automated checks on your residence will be conducted via HMRC or DWP records; there is no need to provide documents to prove your residence if your work history is sufficiently well evidenced.

What happens while your application is under consideration?

A digital certificate of application will be issued by the Home Office to confirm that you have submitted a valid application under the scheme. This does not confirm that you have immigration status in the UK.

What happens if your application is successful?

You will either be granted ILR, the same status as non-EU nationals who become settled in the UK; or 5-years’ leave to remain, known in this category as pre-settled status.

What happens if your application is refused?

It is worth remembering that, in all publicity issued around EU Settlement rules, the Home Office has stated that its intention is to approve as many applications as possible. The scheme’s statement of intent confirms:

“The Home Office will work with applicants to help them avoid any errors or omissions that may impact on the application decision. Caseworkers will have scope to engage with applicants and give them a reasonable opportunity to submit supplementary evidence or remedy any deficiencies where it appears a simple omission has taken place. A principle of evidential flexibility will apply…”

We would, therefore, expect refusals to be rare. If this happens to you, in most cases it will be easiest to simply reapply, providing missing supporting documents if you have them. The rules provide for a process of administrative review of negative decisions, but this does not apply where the refusal is on suitability (good character) grounds, in which case judicial review will be the appropriate remedy.

How we can help…

Over many years our team of lawyers have gained extensive experience in assisting EU nationals and their families to relocate, live, work and study in the UK. While the rules are changing, our commitment to providing up-to-the-minute legal advice to those citizens and their loved ones continues.

We have monitored the introduction of the EU Settlement Scheme closely, and have provided effective, timely support to clients applying under the scheme since 2018.

Related services…

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What our clients say…

Successful Sponsor Licence Application for Religious Charity

I cannot recommend Latitude Law highly enough. Their expertise in the area of immigration law has helped our charity navigate quite complex issues and at every point of the process their communication and advice was excellent. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Latitude Law and highly recommend their services. - Andy Taylor - UK Director of Ellel Ministries

February 2019
Successful family visa applications following two earlier refusals

[T]he moment I talked to you, you gave me great confidence in you and when I read the covering letter, I was extremely impressed by the way you presented my case. I only made three main phone calls to Latitude and the advice I received from you was quite clear and was without a shadow of doubt...

You’re a great team and I thank you all for your time and effort which helped me to join my family after 20 months of stress due to two visa refusals from May 2017 onwards, and a 7 months separation from my family since June 2018.

January 2019
Hard-won success in Adult Dependent Relative visa appeal

My family and I would like to thank you all for your help throughout the case and the successful outcome. I would certainly recommend your firm to friends and colleagues as I have received first class service from Latitude Law over the last couple of years.

December 2018

All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 25/02/2019