EU Settlement Scheme

Since Brexit, the way EU, EEA and Swiss nationals come to live, work and study in the UK has changed. You are now required to apply for UK immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme if you are already living in the UK and want to stay indefinitely.

The deadline for applying was 30th June 2021; however, you can still apply if that deadline did not apply to you, or you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by the deadline.

Latitude Law can help you and your family apply for the correct status to enter into, or remain in the UK. If you are not eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, our solicitors can also advise on other potential visa categories and help you to make the relevant application.

Our EU Settlement Scheme solicitors are ready to help you with an application. Call us today on 0044 161 234 6800 or 0044 207 046 7185, or complete our enquiry form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.


What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is the UK’s government replacement for free movement regulations that permit EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and their families to relocate, work and study in the UK.

The EUSS is used to classify whether your immigration status is ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’. You will receive settled status if you have been living continuously in the UK for five years. If you have lived in the UK for less than five years, you will be granted pre-settled status that will normally last for five years. Following this period, you will be able to apply for settled status.

Settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS will allow you and your family to live, work and study freely in the UK. After 12 months under settled status (a total of six years living continuously in the UK), you are then able to apply for naturalisation to become a British citizen. You may be eligible to apply earlier for naturalisation if you are married to a British national.

Once settled status is secured, it can only be lost through an absence of five years from the UK, or through withdrawal, e.g. if you commit a serious crime and are excluded from the country.

Eligibility for the EU Settlement Scheme

An EUSS application will be approved if you meet the eligibility requirements outlined below, and display good character:

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

‘Continuous qualifying residence’ is defined as spending six months in any 12-month period in the UK. Automated checks on your residence will be conducted via HMRC or Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) records. There is no need to provide documents to prove your residence if your work history is sufficiently evidenced. You may also provide further evidence to confirm your continuous qualifying residence, if you are unable to confirm this through employment in the UK.

Some exceptions to continuous residence requirements include:

  • Living outside of the UK for up to 12 months for an important reason (e.g. childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas job posting)
  • Spending time abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
  • Spending time abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces

How to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme

You must apply for the EUSS 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 or through biometric enrolment (providing fingerprints and photographs) at a visa application centre if you are unable to use the app.

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

If your application is successful, you will either be granted settled status (also known as indefinite leave to remain), or pre-settled status and be granted five years of leave to remain.

Making an application for your family

Your family is able to make an application under the EUSS at the same time as you. Under UK immigration rules, the following family members can be considered:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Children under 21, or who are financially dependent on you
  • Parent or grandparent of yourself or your spouse/civil partner who is financially dependent on you

The supporting documents that your family will need to provide for their application include a valid passport, evidence of the relationship with the person applying under the EUSS, and proof of dependency (where applicable).

Retained Right of Residence

You may be entitled to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit if you previously had a right to reside in the UK, either as a family member of an EU, EEA, Swiss citizen, or from living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland with a British citizen. This is called ‘retained right of residence’ and you may be eligible if:

  • The eligible family member has died
  • You are the child of the eligible family member who died or left the UK, and are in education in the UK
  • You had a child with the eligible person who died or left the UK, and the child is in education in the UK
  • The eligible person divorced you or a member of your family
  • The relationship has broken down due to domestic abuse or violence

Our EU immigration lawyers can help you to make an application for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.

Pre-Settled Status

You can apply for pre-settled status under the EUSS if you have not completed five years of continuous residence as an EEA national or a family member of an EEA national. Pre-settled status is granted for a period of five years, after which you can apply for settled status under the EUSS.

Relevant EEA nationals and their family members

Family members can apply under the EUSS if a relevant EEA citizen has been resident in the UK from 31st December 2020 without breaking their continuous residence. Relationships that grant eligibility to apply for pre-settled status under the EUSS include:

  • Spouses or civil partners
  • Unmarried partners whose relationship is akin to marriage or civil partnership
  • Children under the age of 21
  • Dependent children over the age of 21
  • Dependent parents or other dependent relatives

Irish nationals and their family members

Irish citizens are entitled to right of residence in the UK, meaning they are not required to apply for pre-settled status under the EUSS. However, family members who are not Irish or British citizens and do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK will need to make an application for pre-settled status under the EUSS.

Spouses of a Swiss national

A spouse or civil partner of a Swiss national can apply for pre-settled status under the EUSS if their marriage or civil partnership was formed before 1st January 2026.

Settled Status

You can apply for settled status under the EUSS if you have lived in the UK continuously for five years. If you achieve settled status, you will be able to stay in the UK for as long as you like, and may also apply for British citizenship – this is something that our settled status solicitors can help you with.

How Latitude Law can help

Our team has extensive experience in assisting EU nationals and their families to relocate, work and study in the UK. We are committed to remaining up to date on UK immigration law changes to ensure we provide effective and timely EU settlement scheme legal advice and support to our clients.

When it comes to making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, we are able to ensure that your application provides the strongest evidence and argument possible to help you secure the desired result.

We will also be on hand to answer any questions you have, providing responses in simple, jargon-free language so you are always well-informed.

Contact us

For help making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, call Latitude Law now on 0044 161 234 6800 or 0044 207 046 7185, or complete our enquiry form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.

FAQs About the EU Settlement Scheme

How long does an EU Settlement Scheme Application take?

Government EU Settlement Scheme guidance suggests that it usually takes around five working days to process an application if no further information is required; however, in some circumstances, it can take up to a month.

Do Irish citizens need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme?

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

What happens if my application is refused?

We would expect refusals to be rare. If this happens to you, it will be easiest to reapply in most cases, especially if the reason for refusal was due to missing supporting documents.

The Home Office released a statement expressing that its intention is to approve as many EUSS 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.”

If your application is refused, you can request an administrative review within 28 days of the date of your refusal, if you think there has been an error in the decision provided. Alternatively, you may have a right to appeal the decision to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). An appeal to the First Tier Tribunal must be based on specified grounds and within a certain time limit. If you are in the UK, you will have 14 days from the date the decision is sent to you. If you are outside the UK, you will have 28 days to appeal. Your rights are protected pending determination of your appeal.

If your EUSS application has been refused based on suitability, our immigration solicitors will be able to help you through any administrative review procedures.

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What our clients say…

Complex British Nationality Application

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 13/04/2023