EU Settlement Scheme: Family Members
What is it?
The EU Settlement Scheme, sometimes abbreviated to EUSS, is the government’s scheme for EEA citizens and their family members to remain in the UK after we leave the EU.
Who can apply under the Scheme?
The Scheme is open to certain family members of all citizens of the European Economic Area and Switzerland, provided the sponsor is living in the UK by a certain date*.
Those family members able to benefit from the scheme are the following:-
- Spouses and civil partners
- Dependent children and grandchildren
- Dependent parents and grandparents
- Unmarried partners, provided they have already been issued with residence documents from the Home Office by a certain date*
- Some other family members of EEA citizens, such as cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, provided they have already been issued with residence documents by a certain date*
- The primary carer of an EEA child or a child in education in the UK, and their dependents
- Family members of British citizens who have lived together elsewhere in the EU (‘Surinder Singh’ applicants)
In most, but not all cases, the relationship with the EEA/Swiss national must have existed by a particular date although there are exceptions for children. This date varies depending on the nature of the relationship, the nationality of the sponsor and whether we leave the EU with or without a deal.
At present, applications from outside the UK can only be made by the close family members of EEA sponsors who already hold status under the Scheme.
* 31 December 2020 if we leave the EU with a deal, or exit day if we leave without a deal.
What residence status will I get?
Applicants applying to enter the UK will be given a residence permit valid for six months.
Applicants who have lived in the UK for less than five years, will be given pre-settled status. This gives them the right to remain in the UK for five years, after which they can apply for settled status if they qualify.
Applicants who have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period as an EEA citizen’s family member will be given settled status. This includes applicants who have lived here for a continuous five-year period in the past, provided they have not been away from the UK for five years or more since.
“Continuous” residence means there have been no absences from the UK that exceed a total of six months in any 12-month period
Settled status gives the right to reside in the UK permanently and can only be lost through five years of absence from the UK.
What document will I get?
Applicants applying to enter the UK will be given a residence permit stamp in their passport. They will have to apply for pre-settled status once in the UK. Applicants who already hold a biometric residence card issued under the old EEA Regulations will not be issued with any further documentation. They will instead simply receive electronic confirmation of their status.
All other applicants (including those who hold a biometric residence permit) will be issued with a biometric residence card as well as electronic confirmation of their status.
Do I have to apply under the Scheme?
Family members who wish to remain in the UK must hold some form of residence documentation. Everyone will eventually need to hold status under the Scheme but if you already hold residence documentation under the old system, you do not need to switch just yet.
The deadline for making applications under the Scheme will be 31 December 2020 if we leave the EU without a deal and 30 June 2021 if we leave with a deal.
Who cannot apply under the Scheme?
Certain family members will not be able to apply under the Scheme unless they first hold documentation under the old system, be that a Family Permit, Residence Card or Permanent Residence Card.
Anyone other than a spouse, civil partner, child, grandchild, parent or grandparent who does not already hold such documentation should consider an immediate application under the old system in order to protect their position going forward. This includes unmarried partners, who have less protection under the Settlement Scheme than spouses and civil partners do.
How do I obtain British citizenship?
The Family Members of EEA / Swiss citizens usually have to wait a year after obtaining settled status before they can apply for citizenship. If your EEA sponsor has already naturalised as a British citizen, then you may be able to apply immediately.
If not, you may still be able to apply for citizenship without waiting for a year if you apply for a permanent residence card instead of settled status. Please contact us to discuss this option further.
How we can help
It is critical to make sure you are applying for the right status at the right time, particularly for family members. The Settlement Scheme is less prescriptive in some ways but certain family members will have fewer protections going forward if they make a mistake at this stage. Some may even have to leave the UK. Our highly experienced team of immigration lawyers will assist in preparing and submitting your application to achieve the best possible outcome to protect your status, including advice on citizenship, if relevant.