Last updated: August 2018
Settled status is a special immigration route for EU nationals and their family members. It offers a simplified pathway to stay in the UK once Brexit happens.
If you are an EU national, settled status means you will be able to live and work in the UK for as long as you like after Brexit. It also means that you’ll have access to public services, such as healthcare, schools and pensions.
At the time of writing (March 2019), the UK Government does not intend to change the timetable for rolling out settled status even though the UK will be exiting the EU later than originally planned.
How hard is it?
The Home Office has told us that it wants this process to be as easy as possible. The default answer to any application should be ‘yes’, unless there is a very good reason otherwise. If the Home Office queries your application they should be in touch with you to help resolve this. If this does not happen and you are an RCN member then you can contact our Immigration Service on 0345 772 6100.
Applicants will only need to evidence three criteria to gain settled status. These criteria are:
That you are an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU citizen
That you have been living in the UK continuously for at least five years
That you will be living in the UK by 31st December 2020 at the latest
The Home Office is working hard to make sure that the evidence requirement on applicants is as light as possible.
For example, showing the Home Office your passport or national identity card (if you have one) will prove your EU citizenship.
For the UK residency requirement, the Home Office will accept a range of documents covering a five year period including P60s, bank statements or utility bills.
What if I’ve not been here for five years?
If you’ve not been in continuous residence for five years then go ahead and apply anyway. The Home Office will award you with ‘pre-settled’ status which gives you exactly the same rights as settled status and allow you to stay in the UK for a further five years. Once you meet the five year requirement you can then upgrade to settled status for free.
Who can apply?
This scheme is only open to EU nationals or family members of an EU national. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland have special immigration rights in the UK and will not need to apply for settled status.
At the moment citizens from countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) are not covered by this agreement but we hope that the UK Government will be able to offer similar assurances to these individuals as soon as possible.
As with other immigration pathways to the UK, the UK Government is able to refuse settled status to those with serious criminal offences but the Home Office has advised that each case will be assessed on its own merits.
Can I apply now?
This scheme will open fully on 30th March 2019 and will close on the 30th June 2021 so you have plenty of time. The Home Office has been clear that there is no rush in applying and it will help with processing time if applications are staggered throughout this period. So if you can, please wait until after March to make a settled status application otherwise there may be too many to process at once.
How much will it cost?
The scheme is free of charge. Any applicants who applied during the pilot phase of the scheme in 2018 should be automictically reimbursed.
Once I have settled status, what then?
You can stay or leave the UK as you please and will have the same rights to public services and public funds which you do now. Settled status is permanent – you do not need to update or renew it once you have it.
The RCN’s view on settled status
We welcome this announcement. Even though it has taken a long time which has caused EU nationals a lot of worry, we feel that the Home Office has made a concerted effort to be reasonable and supportive of EU nationals wishing to remain in the UK.
That said however, we will be monitoring the roll-out of settled status carefully to make sure that it meets our expectations. We will also be active in supporting our EU membership should they run into any problems.
We will try to make sure that this guidance is regularly updated but advise all our members to consult the Home Office website for the latest news and developments on settled status. This can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-office-publishes-details-of-settlement-scheme-for-eu-citizens