Marta Mendiondo Head of Immigration
EU Settlement Scheme: New guidance for excess absences and paper forms available to download online
The Home Office has changed its approach to excess absences and will now admit periods exceeding 12 months for Covid-related reasons.
Their previous guidance allowed one absence of up to 12 months, mainly restricted to being directly affected by Covid-19. Their new approach accepts absences in excess of 12 months, even if it was a voluntary decision to spend the pandemic overseas for economic or personal reasons. A self declaration will be accepted in lieu of other official documents which were necessary in the past. For those who have spent more than 12 months abroad, their residential five-year qualifying period will pause, and will restart upon their return to the UK. They will therefore be allowed to request a further grant of pre-settled status if necessary.
For more details, please click here.
Further to this recent guidance, there has been another major change in the application process for those who do not have a valid document to use the Government mobile phone app. Those with expired or no ID documents had to apply using a personalised paper form. This form had to be requested directly to the EU Settlement Scheme resolution centre, and would be posted to each individual applicant. From 15 June, applicants can download the forms directly and email them back with the supporting evidence for consideration. To access the form, please click here.
These are substantial changes which offer more flexibility to EEA citizens ahead of the deadline of 30 June 2021. All EEA citizens, with the exception of Irish or those who already hold Indefinite Leave (but not blue Permanent Residence cards) must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. This includes minor children and elderly residents who may have lived in the UK for decades.
If you need assistance in this or with any other UK immigration matters, please contact a member of our Immigration team.