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Staying in the UK after Brexit

Mae’r cyngor hwn yn berthnasol i Cymru

Check if you need to apply

You usually need to apply to stay in the UK if you're from:

  • a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland
  • another country and you have a family member who is from the EU, EEA or Switzerland

The EEA includes EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

If you’re an Irish citizen

You don’t have to apply to stay in the UK - your existing right to stay in the UK will continue after Brexit. However, if you have family in the UK who aren’t Irish citizens, they must apply to stay. 

If your family member is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, there are 2 ways you can help them stay in the UK. 

You could apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, then link their application to yours. This will make it easier for them to apply. Your family members might be eligible to become Irish citizens, which will allow them to stay in the UK. Find out more about getting Irish citizenship on Citizens Information. 

If you were born in the UK or have a British parent

You can't apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you're also a British citizen.

You might be a British citizen even if you don't have a British passport. This means you're both an Irish citizen and a British citizen - this is known as 'dual nationality'. You can't apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you're both an Irish and British citizen.

You're automatically a British citizen if you were born in:

  • Northern Ireland
  • England, Scotland or Wales and you have an Irish parent

You might also be a British citizen if you were born outside the UK and you have a British parent. It will depend on when you were born. Find out more about British citizenship if you have a British parent on GOV.UK.

Your family members from countries outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about how your family members can apply.

If you’re a British citizen

You don't need to apply to stay in the UK after Brexit.

Your family members from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you either:

  • are an EEA citizen who became a British citizen
  • lived with them in another EU country

Find out more about how your family members can apply.

You should also check if they can apply for British citizenship on GOV.UK.

Check when you should apply by

It is worth applying to stay in the UK now. After the UK leaves the EU you might be asked to prove your right to do things like get a job or use the NHS. You’ll be able to do this by showing you have ‘pre-settled status’ or ‘settled status’ or British citizenship. 

You should apply by 31 December 2020 - your rights could change after that date. 

Getting your status will prove your right to:

  • stay in the UK for more than 3 months
  • work
  • study
  • use the NHS
  • claim the State Pension

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal 

You’ll only be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you were already living in the UK before 31 October 2019. 

If you arrive in the UK after 31 October 2019, you can stay for 3 months. If you want to stay longer, you’ll need to apply for European temporary leave to remain. The government will announce more details about this scheme if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.

Check what you need to apply for

What you need to apply for depends on how long you’ve lived in the UK and if you’ve applied to stay in the UK before.

If you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years

You should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled status. You only need to prove you’ve lived in the UK for 1 day in the last 6 months to get it. 

If you get pre-settled status, you can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. You can spend up to 2 years outside the UK without losing your status. 

You can then apply for settled status when you’ve lived in the UK for a total of 5 years. This includes time before you got pre-settled status. However, you must live in the UK for 6 months out of every year if you want to apply for settled status later. 

Find out more about what you need to apply for pre-settled status.

If you've retired, reached State Pension age or stopped work because you were ill or injured

You might get settled status immediately if you've lived in the UK for less than 5 years and you either:

  • had to stop working permanently because of an accident or illness
  • retired early
  • have reached State Pension age - check your State Pension age on GOV.UK

Get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice before you apply.


If you've lived in the UK for 5 years or more

You should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status. You can also apply for British citizenship.

If you get settled status, you can:

  • live and work in the UK for as long as you like
  • live outside the UK for up to 5 years in a row without losing your status - 4 years if you're Swiss
  • apply for British citizenship 12 months after you get settled status
  • bring your family to live in the UK

Find out what you need to apply for settled status.

You’ll have more rights if you become a British citizen but you might have to give up your current nationality. You have to pay to apply for British citizenship.

Decide if British citizenship is right for you.

If you have a ‘permanent residence’ document

This is sometimes called a ‘document certifying permanent residence’.

Your permanent residence document will not be valid after 31 December 2020. You need to apply for either settled status or citizenship to protect your rights in the UK after that date.

You’ll have the same rights with settled status that you had with permanent residence. 

You can usually apply for British citizenship once you’ve had permanent residence status for at least 12 months. You can find the date on the Home Office letter that came with your permanent residence document.

Find out what you need to do to apply for settled status.

Decide if British citizenship is right for you.

If you were living in the UK before it joined the EU

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you were living in the UK on or before 1 January 1973, you might not need to apply to stay in the UK. You might have been given indefinite leave to remain without applying for it.

If you have indefinite leave to remain, you'll usually have:

  • a stamp or document in your passport
  • a letter from the Home Office
  • a residence permit with a biometric chip (known as a 'biometric residence permit')

If you're not sure if you have indefinite leave to remain

If you're not sure if you have indefinite leave to remain or you can't find the documents, you can apply:

  • to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status
  • through the Windrush Scheme for new documents to prove you have indefinite leave to remain

Both schemes are free to apply to.

If you need to live outside the UK in the future, you should apply for settled status. You can live outside the UK for 5 years without losing your settled status. With indefinite leave to remain, you can only live outside the UK for 2 years.

Find out what you need to apply for settled status

Find out more about applying to the Windrush Scheme on GOV.UK.

If you have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or ‘indefinite leave to enter’

You don't need to apply to stay in the UK if you have indefinite leave to remain or to enter. 

However, if you need to live outside the UK in the future, you should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status. You can live outside the UK for 5 years without losing your settled status. With indefinite leave to remain, you can only live outside the UK for 2 years.

If you're not sure if you have indefinite leave to remain

If you have indefinite leave to remain, you'll usually have one of these:

  • a stamp or document in your passport
  • a letter from the Home Office
  • a residence permit with a biometric chip (known as a 'biometric residence permit')

If you’re not sure if you have indefinite leave to remain or you can’t find the documents, you should apply for settled status. If you came to the UK before 1 January 1988, you can also apply to the Windrush Scheme to get new documents. Both schemes are free to apply to.

Find out what you need to apply for settled status

If you or your child were born in the UK

If you were born in the UK, you might not need to apply to stay - you might already be a British citizen.  Your child might be a British citizen if you lived in the UK for 5 years before they were born.

Check if you have or can get citizenship

If you’re not already a British citizen or you don’t want citizenship, you can apply for settled status.  

Find out what you need to apply for settled status.

Claiming benefits and getting help with housing

You can continue to claim benefits and get help with housing from your local council until 31 December 2020. 

After that date, some benefits like Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Child Benefit might stop if don’t have settled status. You might not be able to get help with housing from your local council. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re worried about claiming benefits and getting help with housing.

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