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EU and EEA Nationals and Brexit

The UK left the EU on Friday 31 January 2020.  Free movement ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020. Here, we look at EU and EEA Nationals and Brexit.

If you are an EU citizen and you were resident in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you should have already applied to register under the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status before the 30 June 2021 deadline. EU and EEA nationals who worked in the UK before 31 December 2020, but resided outside the UK, may be eligible to apply for a Frontier Worker permit.

The same applies for other European Economic Area nationals (nationals of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Swiss nationals.

The EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme, which closed to new applicants on 30 June 2021, allowed EU and EEA nationals who resided in the UK pre-Brexit, to continue to live and work in the UK after 31 December 2020. If an eligible individual missed the deadline due to ‘reasonable grounds’ or if the deadline did not apply to them, they may still be able to make an application.

Depending on the applicant’s circumstances when they applied, they would have been awarded either pre-settled or settled status. Settled status would have been granted to a successful applicant who had lived in the UK for 5 years or more before Brexit. While the rights for those with Settled and pre-settled status are similar, the main difference is those with settled status can spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man without losing their status, where those with pre-settled status can only spend 2 years in a row outside.

Applications for settled status

Individuals who have resided in the UK for 5 continuous years may apply for settled status. The 5 years is counted from the day the applicant began residing in the UK, not the day their pre-settled status was granted. Applicants must not have spent more than 6 months outside the UK in a 12-month period. Applicants who have spent more than 6 months outside the UK may be eligible to re-apply for pre-settled status.

It is free to apply for settled status and applicants will need to provide proof of identity and evidence of their continuous residence. If the applicant’s pre-settled status was granted based on the applicants relationship to a EU/EEA family member, the applicant will need to provide evidence of that relationship.

To find out more about your right of residence in the UK, please contact a member of our immigration team here.

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