Do I need to apply for settled or pre-settled status?

Brexit will impact lots of things, like environmental issues and our human rights. But if you don’t have a British passport, you’ll also need to take practical steps to legally stay in the UK.

settled or presettled status

What's the difference?

In June 2016 Britain voted to leave the European Union, triggering the Brexit process. Currently the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on October 31st 2019.

Let’s be honest – for lots of young people across the country this wasn’t the result any of us voted for or wanted. However it’s really important to understand the effects of this decision.

Brexit will impact lots of things, like environmental issues and our human rights. But if you don’t have a British passport, you’ll also need to take the following practical steps to stay in the UK.

What is freedom of movement?

Let’s go back to basics. Freedom of movement is one of the main principles of the EU. It allows EU citizens to move to, live, work and study in, and sometimes access the welfare system of the EU country to which they’ve moved.

After December 2020, EU rules will no longer apply to the UK. The government has made it compulsory for EU citizens and their family members who want to remain legally in the UK after 31 December 2020 to apply for a new residence status.

What is settled status?

This new status is called Settled Status, and means you will have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

If you’re an EU citizen, and want to live and work in the UK (with access to benefits, public services and healthcare, the right to study and rent accommodation) you will need to apply for settled status before 30 June 2021.

If you’re an EU citizen, and want to live and work in the UK, with access to benefits, public services and healthcare, the right to study and rent accommodation after 31 December 2020, you will need to apply under the settlement scheme.

Pre-settled status is very similar – we explain more about it below.

How do I apply for British citizenship?

The application process is simple and easy – and the government really want all EU citizens to continue living and working in the UK.

So, what do you need to know?

  • The application process is opened on 30 March 2019, and closes on 30 June 2021 – so you have more than two years to apply.
  • It’s free to apply
  • You can apply using a Home Office app called “EU Exit: ID Document Check” which works on smart phones with Android 6.0 or above (you can’t apply using an iPhone)
  • If you don’t have an Android phone you can use support centres set up by the Home Office to make your application
  • To apply, you’ll need a valid passport or national identity card. If your passport or ID card has expired, you will need to renew it before applying
  • If you don’t have the necessary identity documents and can’t get them, you will need to contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre for help
  • You’ll also need proof of residence in the UK. If you’ve paid tax through work, or received benefits, you can use your National Insurance number to help confirm that you’ve been living in the UK
  • When you apply you might be asked to submit extra evidence via the following documents: P60s or P45s, payslips, bank statements, utility bills, council bills, phone bills, annual business accounts, employer contracts, letters or certificates from school or university, passport stamps confirming entry at the UK border or airline or train tickets confirming travel to the UK (although this list is not exclusive)
  • You will be asked to declare any serious criminal convictions in the UK and overseas which will be checked against the UK’s crime databases. If you have only been arrested or convicted of a minor offence such as a parking fine, you will still be eligible to apply for Settled Status.

Remember, if you’re applying for Settled Status, you’ll need to provide evidence of residence in the UK over the last five years.

How is pre-settled status different?

If you don’t have five years’ worth of evidence, but have still entered the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you can apply for pre-settled status.

So, if you’ve been in the UK for less than 5 years you will apply for pre-settled status. Once you have five years of continuous residence in the UK, you can apply to change your pre-settled status to settled status.

What if I already have Permanent Residence or Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you have a valid Permanent Residence document (not an EEA QP Registration Certificate), you’ll need to exchange this for Settled Status. Your Permanent Residence status will become invalid on 31 December 2020.

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK, you already have the right to remain. However, you can still apply for Settled Status to gain additional rights secured under the Withdrawal Agreement, like the right to a five-year absence.

What happens if there is no deal?

If you’re feeling bored or bamboozled by all the Brexit talk – we don’t blame you! It’s ridiculously complicated and constantly changing – but you’ve nearly made it to the end of this article, so hang in there…

There’s a chance that Britain will leave the EU without agreeing a deal. The government has said that if this happens, it will still implement the EU Settled Status scheme. So if you’re an EU citizen, you and your family will still have to apply for settled status to remain in the UK.

In a no-deal scenario only EU citizens who entered the UK before 30 March will be eligible for settled status.

The main difference is that the deadline is earlier, and you will have to apply by 31 December 2020 rather than 30 June 2021.

So, what should I do now?

After March 29th 2019, the sooner you can apply for your pre-settled or settled status, the better! And if you’re feeling worried about Brexit in general, you’re not alone. Read our article here.

Remember to make sure you have all the necessary documents including a valid passport if possible. You shouldn’t need legal advice to do the application. However, if there’s anything in particular you’re worried about, it’s better to get some advice to be on the safe side. Here is a Facebook group where you can ask questions to pro bono lawyers, and Here for Good offer legal advice on more complex cases. 

We’ve given you all the essential information, but there are lots of organisations offering more detailed support and guidance in our Next Steps section.

Think we could improve our Brexit content? Take part in our Brexit survey here and tell us how!

Next Steps

  • Coram's Children's Legal Centre offer legal advice about applying for settled status
  • The EU Londoners Hub is a brilliant resource (not just for people from London!) If you or your family are from the EU you'll find lots of detailed information on their website

  • Here for Good offer free immigration advice to EEA citizens and their non-EEA family
  • Find your local Citizens Advice here, for free and independent legal advice. Or call their helpline. 03454 04 05 06
  • The 3Million have a new digital information hub offering free advice on settled status
  • UK CEN are working for the rights of EEA nationals and their families
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Charlie Duffield

Updated on 30-Mar-2019