The European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is a significant programme that came into effect following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. This scheme was introduced to protect the rights of EU citizens following Brexit as well as the rights of their family members. Clouded in a sea of unrest, EU citizens were left wondering what their next steps would be. The EUSS was a post-Brexit measure that would then bring balance to those unsure of what their future looked like in the UK.
Of the many advantages that accompanied the scheme, the following are the most notable:
- Securing rights: the EUSS allows EU citizens and their families to remain in the UK by applying for ‘pre-settled’ and ‘settled’ status. Knowing that their right to residence has been secured, applicants have become more hopeful and less frightened by the threats of Brexit.
- Maintaining access: Through the EUSS, citizens can still get access to the NHS, benefits and support related to their employment status.
- Ensuring legal protection: The EUSS provides protection under UK law that allows EU citizens to continue living and working in the UK with no immigration restrictions.
Pre-settled status means that if an applicant has not had a continuous residence of 5 years in the UK, they would be granted ‘limited leave to remain’ until they qualify for settlement or ‘settled status’. This is essentially a temporary status that would allow EU citizens to continue legally living and working in the UK.
Upon attaining the 5 years UK residency requirement, applicants are then required to apply for settled status.
The deadline for most people to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021. This deadline does not apply if you already have pre-settled status and you’re applying for settled status.
What is especially interesting, however, are the recent updates regarding the latter. The Home Office has made new arrangements for when a person who holds pre-settled status is approaching the current expiry date of that status. From September 2023, pre-settled status holders who have not yet established settled status and are approaching their expiry date, will have that status automatically extended by 2 years. This will ensure that current pre-settled status holders will not lose their immigration status because they have not made a second application to the EUSS.
Pre-settled status holders will not need to contact the Home Office about this extension, it will be automatically reflected in their digital status and they will be notified once it has been applied. The Home Office also plans to take steps during 2024 to start automatically switching as many eligible pre-settled status holders as possible to settled status without them needing to make an application. Automated checks of pre-settled status holders against government-held information would check for example their ongoing continuous residence in the UK.
Upon completing the 5 years residency requirement, applicants can then apply to settle in the UK. Settled status provides applicants with the right to live, work and access public services in the UK indefinitely. It’s essentially equivalent to the right of permanent residence or ‘indefinite leave to remain’.
Upon obtaining EU settled status, individuals may then be eligible to apply for British citizenship if they meet certain criteria, most importantly, residency requirements. To apply for citizenship, applicants must have lived in the UK for 5 years continuously. In addition, they will also need to pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test which is a requirement for all citizenship applications.
Obtaining British citizenship allows individuals to fully integrate into the country and enjoy the same rights as British citizens. Therefore, it’s a very important final step for EUSS applicants in relation to their immigration journey.
A point to highlight, is that not all applicants under the EUSS are successful. In this case, rejected applicants would usually go to the next stage of the process which would be administrative review, followed by an appeal.
As of October 2023, the right to administrative review for EU Settlement Scheme decisions has been removed, however, the right to appeal remains unchanged.
The EUSS stands as a testament to the UK’s continued commitment to protecting the right of EU citizens post-Brexit. By providing the options above, EU citizens can feel reassured that their rights under UK law are not something to be easily eradicated. The EUSS also serves as a symbol of unity during the time when the UK is facing a great challenge to its relationship with the European Union.
If you wish to talk to us about your pre-settled or settled status under the EUSS, please contact our friendly team of London immigration lawyers at Barar & Associates at email@example.com or call us on 020 7487 8370.