EU Settlement Scheme: Updates To Pre-Settled Status

More Confusion For Those Without Settled Status

On 21st May 2024, the Home Office announced more changes to the EU Settlement Scheme -  the scheme put in place after Brexit for EU citizens and their families. There are two types of status under this regime – Settled Status for those who have lived continuously and legally in the UK for five years and Pre-Settled Status for those who have not yet lived continuously in the UK for five years.

The recent changes particularly affect those who have not yet obtained Settled Status (this is permanent residence). These people have Pre-Settled Status.

Pre-Settled Status Automatic Extension

Pre-Settled Status has an expiry date when the holder should apply for Settled Status. However, there will be automatic extensions of Pre-Settled Status. In September 2023, the Government automatically extended Pre-Settled status by two years when it was due to expire. The new changes now automatically extend Pre-Settled status by five years. So if your Pre-Settled status is due to expire, you will get an email telling you it will be extended by five years.  

This measure is designed to ensure that those who hold valid Pre-Settled status do not lose it just because they have not applied for Settled Status.

In addition, the person’s pre-settled status will not appear on the right to work or rent checks.  

Who Will Benefit From These Extensions?

People with valid Pre-Settled Status

The most important thing to remember about Pre-Settled Status is that it is only valid if the person was living in the UK before 31 December 2020. Although there are exceptions for those who arrived after that time as dependant parents or children.

And the person must also have a ‘continuous qualifying period of residence’ – that means they have not spent over 6 months out of the UK in any 12 month period. If they have broken that continuous residence by spending too much time outside the UK, they cannot apply for Settled Status after five years living in the UK.  

As an example, if the person was living in the UK by November 2020 but then left the UK in June 2021 and did not return until May 22, they have broken their continuous residence and cannot apply for Settled Status in November 2025. There are exceptions for those who left the UK for a long period for certain unavoidable and specific reasons.

We do not know whether people who have broken their residence will automatically get the five year extension. In theory they will not because their Pre-Settled Status is no longer valid. Even if they are granted an extension, they can never apply for Settled Status under the current rules. They cannot re-set the clock and start the five years again after their long absence – because the five year period must date from before 31 December 2020 and Brexit.

Losing Pre-Settled Status

Previously, if a person had Pre-Settled Status but left the UK for over 2 years at a stretch, they would lose their Pre-Settled Status. That has now been extended to 5 years. However, that person would lose their right to ever obtaining Settled Status as outlined above.

We advise anyone who holds Pre-Settled Status not to spend over 6 months outside the UK before they are eligible to apply for Settled Status.

Automatic Settled Status

For those who do meet the rules, the government has said they intend to:

“Automatically convert as many eligible pre-settled status holders as possible to settled status once they are eligible for it, without them needing to make an application. During 2024, automated checks of pre-settled status will establish their ongoing continuous residence in the UK.

We would still advise you to apply for Settled Status when you are eligible.

Need More Help?

If you are unsure about your status under the EU Settlement Scheme, please contact us.

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