Tips for EU nationals in the UK
In 1957, the Treaty of Rome introduced the right to free movement of workers based in the European Economic Community (EEC).
This was later adopted by the United Kingdom upon Joining the EEC in 1973. Since then, citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) as a whole have enjoyed the right to live and work in the United Kingdom free of restrictions, so long as they remain a qualified person.
On 31st January 2020, the UK has ceased to be a member of the European Union and has entered a transition period, which will last until the end of this year. During the transition period the UK continues to apply EU law and allow the free movement of people. On the 1st January 2021 free movement will end.
Migrate UK recommendations:
All EU, EEA, Swiss citizens and their family members in the UK prior to 31st December 2020 need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to obtain settled or pre-settled status prior to 30th June 2021.
As of 24thAugust 2020 qualifying family members of the people of Northern Ireland will also be able to apply for an immigration status under the EUSS.
To qualify for a status under the EUSS an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen must have started living in the UK by 31st December 2020.
You can apply from inside or outside the UK by using the EU Exit: ID Document Check app. The application must include proof of identity and nationality (a biometric passport or a UK residence card with a biometric chip), as well as proof that you have not spent more than 6 months outside the UK in any 12-month rolling period.
If you have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period, known as continuous residence, you will usually get settled status. 5 years continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you have been in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12 month period, except for one period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting), compulsory military service of any length time spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant, time spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces.
If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply you will get pre-settled status. You can then apply to change this to settled status once you have got 5 years’ continuous residence, but before your pre-settled status expires. You can stay in the UK for 5 years from the date you get pre-settled status. Pre-settled status cannot be extended.
If you will reach 5 years’ continuous residence at some point by 31 December 2020 or prior to 30th June 2021, you can choose to wait to apply until you reach 5 years residence. If your application is successful you will get settled status without having to apply for pre-settled status.
From 24 August 2020, the period of residence an applicant can rely on for eligibility under the EUSS can be from past or current residence in the UK, it does not need to be a continuing residence at the date of the application. However, EU/EEA citizens and their family members must prove that they haven’t been outside of the UK for more than 5 years in a row (for Swiss citizens 4 years) when applying for settled status or they haven’t spent more than 2 years in a row outside the UK when applying for pre-settled status.
In relation to EU/EEA employees on UK payroll currently working overseas, employers should now assess the impact of Brexit on existing and planned assignments. Employees with settled/pre-settled status currently on short-time assignments or accepting new assignments need to ensure that they will not be spending more time on the assignment than their disqualifying period (not more than 5 years (4 years for Swiss citizens) with settled status , not more than 2 years for those with pre-settled status). Those who have lost their residency rights due to having been out of country for more than their disqualifying period can apply for a status under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021.
Should you wish to naturalise as a British citizen in the future:
You will need to show that you have either permanent residency or settled status first. In addition, unless you are married to a British citizen, you will need to demonstrate that you have held permanent residency or settled status for at least 12 months before you apply
Should you have already spent 5 continuous years in the UK it may be worth applying for permanent residency under the European rules rather than settled status under the UK rules. This is because a permanent residency application will backdate your claim to when you completed your 5 years, whereas the settlement scheme does not. This could mean you can make a British Naturalisation application sooner. However, please note that your permanent residence document will not be valid after 31 December 2020.
Before applying for British Citizenship, we advise that you check with the embassy of your current nationality first to ensure you are entitled to hold more than one nationality.
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