Marta Mendiondo Head of Immigration
EU Update – Settled and Pre-Settled Immigration Status in the UK
The current COVID crisis is at the centre of most Home Office communications at the moment. At this time of uncertainty it is important that EEA citizens and their family members are aware that it is still mandatory to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme to retain the legal right to live and work in the UK. There have been no changes to the scheme’s deadline, which closes on 30 June 2021. Every EEA citizen, except Irish nationals, must apply to retain the right to reside in the UK, unless they already hold British citizenship.
International travel restrictions in place will no doubt have affected relocation plans for many potential applicants, but the deadlines have not been extended. To be eligible to apply for pre-settled status, EEA citizens will have to prove that they were present in the UK on or before 31 December 2020.
Applications for settled status require a qualifying residence period of five years in the UK - absences of up to six months are allowed in any twelve month period, unless there is a compelling reason for a longer gap outside the UK.
Applicants may rely on historical five year periods as long as they have not been away from the UK for more than five years at any one time since completing their residence.
The Home Office has published on the government website confirmation that excess absences due to COVID will not negatively affect immigration applications. This announcement has not been incorporated to their published guidance or Immigration Rules. We therefore recommend to exercise caution and apply as soon as the applicant is eligible to do so, and not rely on discretionary concessions that may be withdrawn in the future.
Applicants currently overseas unable to return to the UK can also apply from abroad. The scheme is open both for pre settled and settled status, depending on the length of the applicant’s previous residence in the UK.
Family members may apply for a six month family permit to allow them to travel to the UK once the Visa Application Centre network reopens. All overseas offices remain closed as of 1 June but we expect updates in the near future.
If you need assistance with an application, or further advice on this or any other UK immigration matter, please get in touch with Marta Mendiondo, Senior Immigration Consultant at Ince firstname.lastname@example.org.