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new cardiff > ENG > Resident > EU Settlement Scheme > What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

EU regulations for Freedom of Movement will no longer apply to the UK after December 2020, so the UK Government is making it compulsory for EU citizens, along with their family members, who wish to remain legally in the UK after a transition period, to apply for a new residence status. 


The EU Settlement Scheme was announced by the Home Office in June 2018. The scheme will allow EU citizens currently living in the UK to apply for a new form of immigration status called settled or pre-settled status. It means they will be able to continue to work in the UK and continue to be eligible for:

  • public services, such as healthcare and schools,
  • public funds and pensions, and
  • British citizenship, if they want to apply and meet the requirements.​

What is ‘settled’ status’? 


EU citizens who have lived in the UK continuously for five years at the point of applying to the EU Settlement Scheme will be eligible for ‘settled’ status. This will allow them to continue living in the UK after December 2020, and be able to work, access public funds, and bring family members to join them in the UK. 

Any children born to parents with ‘settled’ status will automatically be British citizens. Holders of settled status will also be able to apply for British citizenship if they meet the relevant requirements.

What is ‘pre-settled’ status? 


EU citizens who have not lived in the UK continuously for five years at the point of applying to the EU Settlement Scheme will be eligible for ‘pre-settled’ status. This allows the holder to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date they receive ‘pre-settled’ status. Holders can apply for full settled status as soon as they have lived in the UK for 5 years’ continuous residence. They will not be expected to pay a fee to transfer their status from ‘pre-settled’ to ‘settled.’ 

Any children born to parents with ‘pre-settled’ status will be automatically eligible for ‘pre-settled’ status.


If you are an EU citizen or a family member of an EU citizen, including those with a UK permanent residence document, you will usually need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you want to stay in the UK after 31st December 2020.

This includes if you either:

  • were born in the UK but are not a British citizen 
  • are married to a British citizen and you are from the EU 

You will not usually be eligible to apply if you are married to a British citizen and you are from outside the EU.​


The UK has reached an agreement with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein​​​​​​​External link opens in a new window , and a separate agreement with Switzerland​​​​​​External link opens in a new window . If you’re a national of these countries you’ll be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from 30 March 2019.
The scheme officially launched at the end of March 2019 and applications must be submitted by 30 June 2021.
Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is free. If you applied during a pilot of the EU Settlement Scheme and paid an application fee, you can apply for a refund​​​​​External link opens in a new window .
If the UK reaches a deal with the EU, the EU Settlement Scheme will remain open until June 31st 2021, with EU nationals able to apply right until the final day of the scheme, as long as their arrival date in the UK is before or during the transition period (before December 31st 2020).

Under this scenario, those arriving after 29th March 2019 will be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in the same way as EU nationals who were resident in the UK before 29th March 2019.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the Prime Minister has advised that the EU Settlement Scheme will still be launched in order to complete the necessary registration of EEA nationals living in the UK, in preparation for future immigration rules covering EEA nationals.

I’m an EEA Citizen who was resident in the UK before the UK’s exit from the EU

On 6 December 2018, the UK Government set out that in the event of a no deal scenario, EEA citizens who are resident in the UK by the time the UK leaves the EU would continue to be able to apply for status in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme. EEA Citizens who were resident in the UK before the UK’s exit from the EU will be required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to secure ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status by 31st December 2020. Note that this deadline is six months shorter than in the ‘deal’ scenario.

I’m an EEA Citizen or a family member of an EEA Citizen arriving in the UK after the UK’s exit from the EU

On 29th January 2019, the Home Secretary set out provisions for EEA citizens and their family members arriving in the UK after we leave the EU, in the event the UK leaves without agreeing a deal.

In this scenario, the UK Government will end free movement, and this will happen as soon as practically possible. The Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill has been introduced to achieve this. EEA citizens arriving after the UK’s exit from the EU would not therefore be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in the ‘no deal’ scenario.

The UK Government’s announcement confirms that, in the event that the UK leaves the UK without a deal, there will be a transition period until the UK’s new skills-based immigration system is introduced at the beginning of 2021.

The transition period will be used to put in place arrangements for the new system in 2021 and to provide status under the EU Settlement Scheme to those EEA citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK before exit.

During this transition period: 

  • EEA citizens arriving in the UK to visit for up to three months will not see any changes. They will not require a visa and may continue to enter the UK using a valid passport or identity card.
  • EEA citizens who wish to stay in the UK for longer than three months will need to make an application within this time in order to do so.
  • Subject to identity, criminality and security checks, permission to stay in the UK (European temporary leave to remain) will be granted for 36 months leave to remain.
  • This permission to stay for 36 months is temporary and cannot be extended. Those who wish to stay for longer will need to apply and qualify under the terms of the UK’s new skills-based immigration system, which will begin from 1 January 2021.
  • Employers already conduct Right to Work checks on EEA citizens and that will not change. The UK Government has advised that employers do not have to differentiate between those who are resident in the UK before exit and those who arrive afterwards at this stage.
  • Until the new skills-based immigration system is introduced, EEA citizens will be able to evidence their right to work in the UK by using a passport or national identity card.
  • EEA citizens who arrive during the transition period may be accompanied by close family members (their spouse, partner or dependent children under 18) from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), who will require a family permit before coming to the UK. They may enter for up to three months and may then apply as a dependant of an EEA citizen to stay in the UK for up to three years.
  • The details of benefits entitlements and NHS charging arrangements for EEA citizens during the transition period will be announced in due course.


These arrangements will also apply to citizens of Switzerland arriving after exit in a no deal scenario.

Further information on transitional immigration arrangements for EU citizens in the event of no deal​​​​​External link opens in a new window ​​.  



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