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EU Settlement Scheme

The European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is a scheme to allow EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to continue living in the UK after Brexit, if they were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020. This webpage gives advice to those who already hold either Pre-settled or Settled status. 

You should hold Settled Status if you had five years’ continuous residence in the UK when you applied, or Pre-settled status if you had less than five years. Settled status holders will have no end date to their status (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’), while Pre-settled status holders will have an end date. 

The deadline for new EUSS applications has now passed, but in certain circumstances it may be possible to make a late application if you have a significant ‘good reason.’ Citizens Advice have guidance on making a late EUSS application. The deadline does not apply to joining family members and Citizens Advice also provide advice on checking whether your family members can get pre-settled status or settled status

Proving your EUSS status and updating your UKVI account

You should have a UKVI account in which you can generate ‘share codes’ to prove your status to those in the UK who need to check it (eg employers and landlords). Please see our checking your immigration status with share codes page for more information. 

When you enter the UK you can continue to use the eGates, but a border agent will also be able to check your status via the passport linked to your UKVI account. 

To avoid problems with any checks it is very important to update your UKVI account with any changes to your circumstances, especially if you get a new passport or change your name. 

Not losing your Pre-settled status

You can be absent from the UK for up to two years without losing your Pre-settled status. 

If in the future you will want to upgrade to Settled status, the rules on absences are stricter. 

Not losing your Settled status 

You can be absent from the UK for five consecutive years without losing your Settled status. 

Returning to the UK for at least one full day resets the five year period. (For instance, you arrive in the UK on Monday and leave on Wednesday).

Upgrading to Settled status

To upgrade from Pre-settled status to Settled status, you must have five years of continuous residence in the UK and you need to make sure to apply before your Pre-settled status expires.

You risk breaking your continuous residence, and therefore becoming ineligible for Settled status, if you are outside of the UK for more than six months in any 12 month period. This is covered in more detail in the following section. 

There has recently been a successful legal challenge on whether Pre-settled status holders should be required to make a further application and if instead their status should be upgraded automatically, but this has not yet been fully concluded. For now it is advisable to secure your status by applying to upgrade to Settled status as soon as you meet the five year residency requirement and before your current status expires. 

Permitted absences when upgrading to Settled status

Your continuous residence, which needs to reach five years to apply for Settled status, is considered broken if you are absent from the UK for more than six months in a 12 month period. There are, however, exceptions to this: 

You may be absent for both: 

  • one period of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’, and
  • one Covid-related absence of any length

You are allowed to have one absence of up to 12 months for an important reason, in addition to one ‘Covid related absence’ of any length, without breaking your continuous residence. 

Examples of an ‘important reason’ include (but are not limited to):

  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • serious illness
  • study
  • vocational training
  • an overseas posting

Examples of a Covid-related absence are: 

  • ill with coronavirus
  • in quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance on coronavirus
  • caring for a family member affected by coronavirus
  • prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by coronavirus
  • advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country, due to coronavirus
  • absent from the UK for another reason relating to coronavirus, for example, you left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer coronavirus restrictions elsewhere; you preferred to work or run a business from home overseas; or you would have been unemployed in the UK and preferred to rely on support from family or friends overseas

The Government web pages provide examples of evidence that you can provide to confirm your Covid-related absence.

If you were absent from the UK for more than 12 months for a Covid-related absence, the period of your absence would not count towards your qualifying period of residence. Your continuous qualifying period will be paused from the point your absence reached 12 months and will resume from the point you return to the UK. This means that you can’t use this period to count towards the five years you need to build up to be able to apply for Settled status. 

Where you hold Pre-settled status, and this is due to expire before you can complete the continuous qualifying period of residence required for you to be eligible for Settled status, you will be able to apply for a further grant of Pre-settled status.

Apart from Covid-related absences, you cannot be absent for more than 12 months, even for an ‘important reason’.

Tracking your absences

If you are planning to upgrade to Settled status, it is advisable to track your absences so that you do not accidentally break your continuous residence period. 

The3million (an organisation for EU citizens) have developed an absence calculator which you can download and use to track your absences.