Brexit – EU citizens and the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme

18 October 2019 | Jonathan Martin

EU citizens present in the UK on the day the UK leaves the UK can apply for “settled” or “pre-settled” status up to and including December 31, 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, or until 30 June 2021 it the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

It is important to note that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal then EU/EEA citizens must be living in the UK by the day that Brexit happens or they will not be eligible under the scheme.  Although they will be able to live and work in the UK until 31 December 2020 they will have to obtain European Leave to Remain in order to do so after that date under the UK’s new points based immigration system, which is still yet to be announced.  Therefore, such an application being successful cannot be guaranteed.

Application is intended to be straightforward and can be made without charge online here: Apply to EU Settlement Scheme

Information about how to apply and relevant time limits is available here: Applying for Settled Status

Our chart below shows the key differences between the two distinct rights of “settled” and pre-settled status” and eligibility requirements.



Pre-Settled Settled
Who is it for? EU, EEA, Swiss Citizens and their family member who:
– Reside in the UK by 31 December 2020, or Brexit day if no deal
– Have no serious criminal record; and
Have lived in the UK for less than five years. Have lived in the UK for at least five years, during which time they spent less than 6 months abroad in any 12-month period (unless for compulsory military service: a single absence of 6-12 months may be allowed for an “important reason”). This is called “continuous residence”.
How long is it granted for? For five years, but you will lose it if you leave the UK for a period of 2 consecutive years.
In addition, your period of “continuous residence” resets to 0 if you spend over 6 months abroad in any 12-month period. This means you will lose the ability to change your pre-settled status to settled. It can also be revoked for subsequent criminal offending.
Forever, but you will lose it if you leave the UK for a period of 5 consecutive years (4 years for Swiss citizens). It can also be revoked for subsequent criminal offending.
When do I need to re-apply? You need to re-apply to change your pre-settled status to settled before your pre-settled status expires. You will be able to do this as soon as you accrue 5 years of “continuous residence” Never.
You do not need to re-apply
What are my employment and welfare rights? You will enjoy the same rights: to live, work, and healthcare. But pre-settled status does not count as “right to reside” for the purpose of welfare benefits.
You may be able to show your right to reside under EEA regulations by being a worker for example. However, it is unclear whether these regulations will apply following a no-deal.
This may not matter now but if you need to access support because of ill health, unemployment or domestic violence you will need to demonstrate your right to reside.
You will enjoy the same rights to live, work, healthcare and welfare as UK citizens as your settled status is evidence that you have a right to reside in the UK.
Can I apply for UK citizenship? No, you need to be settled in the UK before you can apply. Yes, but you can only apply after holding settled status for a year – unless you are married to a British citizen.

Contact us

For further information, contact our team on +44(0)203 051 5711 or email us.


Content is for general information purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice. If you require assistance in relation to any issue please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances. In particular, no responsibility shall be accepted by the authors or by Abbiss Cadres LLP for any losses occasioned by reliance on any content appearing on or accessible from this article. For further legal information click here.

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