“I have a permanent residence document, do I need to apply for settled status?”
In short, the answer is yes.
Despite the Home Office reportedly spending millions of pounds on advertising the EU Settlement Scheme, we remain concerned that there remains a lack of awareness about the Scheme and the difference between permanent residence and settled status.
Even if a European national or their family member has previously been granted a permanent residence document, they must apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme if they intend to continue living in the UK.
What is permanent residence?
Before the introduction of the EU Settlement Scheme, the rights of European nationals and their family members to live in the UK were set out in the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations. These Regulations were based on EU free movement law.
Under the Regulations, a European national would have a right to reside in the UK in the majority of cases as long as they continued to be what is known as a “qualified person”. Generally speaking, this meant that they met the definition of being a worker, self-employed person, a jobseeker, a self-sufficient person, or a student.
After living in the UK for a continuous period of five years as a “qualified person”, the European national would acquire a permanent right of residence. Certain family members of the European national, such as a spouse/civil partner or child, would also acquire permanent residence if they lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years.
This right would arise automatically. It is possible for a European national and their European and non-European family members to apply to the Home Office for a document confirming this right – a permanent residence document. For the European national, this would take the form of a residence document labelled as a “document certifying permanent residence”. For a non-European family member of the European national, this would take the form of a biometric permanent residence card. Along with the document, the Home Office also issues a letter confirming the date the person is deemed to have acquired permanent residence.
There was no requirement to apply for a permanent residence document, although for practical reasons many European nationals and their family members chose to do so.
What is settled status and when is the deadline to apply?
In light of Brexit, the Home Office introduced the EU Settlement Scheme to allow for European nationals and their family members to continue to live in the UK.
The requirements of the Scheme are set out in the UK Immigration Rules. Under the scheme, a person can either be granted “settled status” (equivalent to indefinite leave to remain) or five years’ “pre-settled status” (equivalent to limited leave to remain). The Scheme is based on a person’s residence in the UK, rather than the nature of their economic activity while living here.
Generally speaking, if a European national or their family member has lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years, they will be granted settled status. If they have lived in the UK for less than five years, they will be granted five years’ pre-settled status with a view to applying for settled status once they have lived in the UK continuously for five years.
If a person is granted settled status, there are no time limits on their residence in the UK and they can continue to live here without making any further applications to the Home Office. Settled status can only be lost if a person leaves the UK for a continuous period of five years without returning or if they commit a very serious criminal offence and the Home Office decides to revoke their status.
The deadline to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021. However, we are urging people to submit their application before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. It is currently unclear on what legal basis European nationals and their family members will be able to remain in the UK from December 2020 onwards if they have not applied under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Applying for settled status with a permanent residence document
If a person has been granted a permanent residence document, they can apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. To be granted settled status, they must meet the following requirements:
- They are either an EEA national, Swiss national, or they meet the definition of the family member of an EEA/Swiss national;
- They have been granted a permanent residence document;
- They have not been absent from the UK for a continuous period of five years since the date they are deemed to have acquired permanent residence;
- The Home Office has not made a decision to remove or exclude them from the UK;
- They are not “unsuitable” for a grant of settled status (such as if they have committed serious criminal offences or deceived the Home Office in their application).
If you have been granted a permanent residence document and can meet these requirements, you will be eligible for settled status. We would urge you to apply as soon as possible. You can find more information about the application procedure on gov.uk, and my colleague Nath Gbikpi has written a detailed post about how to apply on the Free Movement website.
This blog focuses on European nationals and their family members who have been issued with permanent residence documents. It should be stressed that this is one of several ways a person may be eligible for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. If you have any questions about your eligibility for settled status or require assistance to submit an application under the Scheme, please contact us as we would be happy to help.
If you require advice or assistance with an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 20 7401 6887.