Brexit immigration FAQs

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Rights of residence for EEA nationals continued during the transition period under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 until 31 December 2020.

The relevant Home Office web page for the time being is:

EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre

Telephone: 0300 123 7379

From outside the UK: +44 203 080 0010 

Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm

Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 4.30pm

This page will be updated regularly to cover questions about the residence rights of EEA nationals and their family members after that date. If you have a question, please send it to me using the contacts form and I will add it to the list.

I have lived in the UK for over 30 years: do I still have to apply for “settled status”?

After 31 December 2020, the Regulations that provide for rights of residence were withdrawn. The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021. If you have lived in the UK for a long time, it is possible that you already have permission to stay (for example if you have indefinite leave to remain). However, if you do not have any other status, and you have not yet applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, you should make an application as soon as possible, explaining why you are applying after the deadline.

I already have a document that says I have “indefinite leave to remain”.

If you came to the UK before about 2002, you might already have been granted indefinite leave to remain (“ILR”) under the Immigration Rules. This is because European nationals could still apply for ILR before European law made provision for a right of permanent residence. You might have a stamp in your passport or a registration certificate in the form of a card which confirms that there are no restrictions on your stay in the UK, or that you have been granted indefinite leave.

If this applies to you then you might not have to apply again for a “Settled Status” document. However, you might still need to get up to date documents to prove you have ILR, because the Government’s “Hostile Environment” policy means that employers, landlords, banks and the NHS can only accept certain documents as proof of your right to be in the UK. For some people, applying under the “Settled Status” scheme will be easier than getting a new ILR document.

What is the “Settled Status” scheme?

The Government introduced new immigration rules to apply to EEA and Swiss nationals and their families applying for permission to live in the UK. Broadly speaking, if you have lived in the UK for 5 years, then you will be eligible for ILR (called “Settled Status” by the Government in this context). If you have been in the UK for less than 5 years then you will be eligible for “Pre-Settled status”. People with Pre-Settled status can apply for ILR once they have completed 5 years of residence.

Can I still apply?

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for most people living in the UK by 31 December 2020 was 30 June 2021. However, you can still apply to the Settled Status scheme now.

The deadline is different in the following cases:

  • People applying to join a family member in the UK after 1 April 2021 have 90 days to apply from the date they arrive in the UK.
  • Applications for children born or adopted in the UK on or after 1 April 2021 can be made within 90 days from the child’s date of birth or adoption.
  • Family members of an eligible person of Northern Ireland who could not move back to the UK without them by 31 December 2020 have 90 days to apply from when they arrive in the UK.
  • People who have limited leave to enter or remain in the UK which expires after 30 June 2021 must apply before that leave expires.
  • The deadline for people applying as the family member of a British citizen with whom they lived in an EEA country or Switzerland (“Surinder Singh” applicants) was 29 March 2022.

If you have missed the deadline you can still make a late application if you have “reasonable grounds” for the delay. UK Visas & Immigration has provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of reasonable grounds including:

  • You did not know you had to apply (for example, because you were a child)
  • You were a victim of modern slavery or a victim of domestic abuse
  • Other compelling or compassionate circumstances, including disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic

I don’t have documents for some of my time in the UK

Home Office caseworkers should refer automatically to internal documents like your work and tax records as evidence of your UK residence. However, they might still ask you for proof that you were in the UK at a particular time, especially if you were not working for some of your 5-year period. It is a good idea to gather things like medical records, children’s school records, bank statements  etc. to show when you were in the UK, at least in the last 5 years.

If you came to the UK before 1988, you might also be able to use the “Windrush scheme” to apply for confirmation that you have ILR. This scheme is free, and caseworkers are instructed to deal with applicants in a constructive and helpful way, aimed at proving your residence rights.

I have a criminal conviction, can I still apply to the Settlement Scheme?

The UK’s domestic laws are stricter that EU free movement law in providing for refusals or removal of people who have committed criminal offences. The Home Office’s written policy does outline the circumstances in which a previous conviction should not prevent you being granted Pre-Settled or Settled Status.

In some cases the Home Office is now taking action to detain EEA nationals who have a criminal record, and issuing notices of an intention t make a deportation order.

It is very important to respond in good time if you receive a notice of intention to make a deportation order. You should take advice about the particular circumstances of your case.

Kitty Falls

Tel: 07752722292

Last updated 6 November 2022