Brexit immigration FAQs

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Rights of residence that EEA nationals currently have in the UK continue during the transition period under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016.

The relevant Home Office web pages for the time being are:

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After 31 December 2020, the Regulations that provide for rights of residence are likely to be withdrawn. The Home Office states that EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who apply under the EU Settlement Scheme before June 2021 will not be penalised. However, you should still apply for permission to stay in the UK in good time, as there is no guarantee that you will be protected from the “hostile environment” if you do not have Settled or Pre-Settled Status after 31 December 2020.

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 has introduced new immigration rules to apply to European 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.

When do I have to apply?

You can apply to the Settled Status scheme now. Following the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, we are now in a “transition period”, during which your free movement rights continue to apply.

If you expect to complete 5 years of UK residence between 31 January 2020 October 2019 and 31 December 2020, you could wait until you are eligible for Settled Status before you apply.

However, you should apply in good time before the end of the transition period, to allow time to deal with any delays.

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.

My residence rights are based on the “Surinder Singh” case: can I still apply?

If you have residence rights because you are the family member of a British citizen who has exercised treaty rights in another EEA country, then you must use a paper application form instead of the online form. You will need to call the Home Office on 0300 123 7379 to request the form: this usually takes a couple of weeks to send out to you.

How long does a settled status application take?

At the time of writing, there are delays in the application process. Most “straightforward” applications seem to be dealt with within a month. More difficult cases can take around 3 months (for example, “Surinder Singh” applications, or cases where the Home Office asks you to provide more documents).

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

There are substantial delays in processing applications by people who have criminal convictions in the past. 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. However, 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. You should take advice about the particular circumstances of your case, before you submit your application.

Kitty Falls

Tel: 07752722292

Last updated 22 April 2020