Brexit: What is the EU settlement scheme and how can you apply?

The EU settlement scheme, which was designed by the government to allow EU, EEA and Swiss citizens to apply to continue living in the UK after Brexit, closes on Wednesday.

EU citizens who live in the UK but do not have indefinite leave to remain will have to apply for the scheme by June 30.

Who can apply for the scheme?

Certain people from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland can apply for the scheme.

People from another country can apply in certain circumstances, for example if they are a family member of an EU citizen living in the UK.

Applicants need a valid ID document and proof of residence to successfully apply.

You do not need to apply if you have indefinite leave to enter the UK or indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Those who work in the UK but don't live here, known as 'frontier workers' do not need to apply.

Irish citizens also do not need to apply for the scheme.

Applicants will need to visit the government's website to apply for the scheme.

What will a successful applicant get?

Successful applicants will either be given 'settled status' or 'pre-settled status' normally depending on how long they have been living in the UK when they applied.

'Settled status' is usually given to those who have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period, meaning that for five years in a row they have spent at least six months in a 12 month period living in the UK, the Channel Island or the Isle of Man.

Those given 'settled status' will be able to stay in the UK for as long as they wish and can apply for British citizenship if eligible.

'Pre-settled status' is normally given to those who have not lived in the UK for five years in a row but had started living in the UK by December 31 2020.

Successful applicants will be able to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date they get 'pre-settled status' and can apply to switch to 'settled status' after five years continuous residence in the UK.

People who are given settled and pre-settled status have broadly similar rights, but there are some important distinctions.

Both statuses allow individuals to:

  • Work in the UK

  • Use the NHS for free, if they can when applying

  • Enrol in education or study in the UK

  • Access public funds such as benefits and pensions they are eligible for

  • Travel in and out of the UK

However, those with 'settled status' will be able to spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing their status whereas those with 'pre-settled status' can only spend up to two years in a row outside the UK and have to maintain continuous residence to qualify for settled status.

Similarly, if you have 'settled status' and have a child in the UK while living here, the child would automatically be a British citizen.

If you have 'pre-settled status' and have a child born in the UK, the child would be automatically eligible for 'pre-settled status' but would only be a British citizen if they qualify for it through their other parent.

How many applications have there been so far?

The latest figures show 5.6 million applications have been made to the scheme from around 5.3 million people.

As of May 31, an estimated 4,882,000 had received either status through the scheme with around 2,754,100 grants of settled status and 2,276,200 of pre-settled status.

Figures suggest refusals are rare with around 94,000 applications being refused, 72,000 withdrawn, and 75,000 classed as invalid.

Who is applying for the scheme?

Most of the concluded applications are from those with Polish nationality, with those with Romanian and Italian nationality having the second and third highest numbers of applications.

Poland has seen a higher proportion of individuals getting 'settled status' than Romania. Credit: Home Office

Figures from March suggest the proportion of settled outcomes differs among the top 10 nationalities, with Polish and Lithuanian nationals having the highest proportion of settled outcomes (77% and 75%, respectively), compared to Croatian and Romanian nationals with the lowest proportions (24% and 33%, respectively).

The vast majority of applications were received from England and 83% were made by those between 18 and 64.

As of March 31, the London Borough of Newham saw the highest number of applications to the scheme.