Keeping your family in the UK after Brexit

This advice applies to England. See advice for Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales

If you're an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, your family might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Your family members might be able to apply to the scheme if you started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. It also depends on when they arrived in the UK and how they’re related to you.

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

If your family members aren’t here yet, check if they can come to the UK.

If you’re a British or Irish citizen, there are some situations when your family members can apply for pre-settled or settled status.

If you’re a British citizen

If you have close family members who aren’t British citizens, they can apply for pre-settled or settled status in some situations.

Close family members are your:

  • husband, wife, civil partner or long-term partner

  • parents or grandparents

  • children or grandchildren under 21 years old

  • dependent children over 21 years old

Your close family members can only apply for pre-settled or settled status if any of the following apply:

  • you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who got British citizenship after you came to the UK - this is called ‘naturalising’

  • you lived with your family member in another EU country while the UK was part of the EU

  • you were born in Northern Ireland 

Talk to an adviser if you’re in one of these situations.

If you’re an Irish citizen

If you want your family members to live in the UK, check if they can apply for pre-settled or settled status.

If you have Irish citizenship

If your family member wants to live in the UK, they’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme or for Irish citizenship if they’re eligible. Check if your family member can get Irish citizenship on Citizens Information - this is an advice website run by the Irish government.

If they’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can help them apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by applying first. 

You don’t need to apply, but it will make your family member’s application easier if you do. If you apply, they will not have to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK when they apply.

Check if your family member can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - not all family members are eligible.

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

You’ll usually have Irish and British citizenship - this is called ‘dual nationality’.  

You might be a British citizen even if you don't have a British passport. You can check if you got British citizenship automatically when you were born on GOV.UK.

If you have Irish and British citizenship, and you were born in Northern Ireland:

  • you can’t apply to the EU Settlement Scheme

  • some of your family members can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - you’ll need to check if they’re eligible

Check if your family members can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you were born in Northern Ireland on GOV.UK.

If you have Irish and British citizenship and you weren’t born in Northern Ireland, you can’t apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Your family members can only apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if:

  • you were an EU or EEA citizen and got British citizenship after you came to the UK - this is called ‘naturalising’

  • you lived together in another EU country while the UK was part of the EU

Talk to an adviser if you’re in one of these situations.

Check if your family member can apply

They might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status - it depends on when they arrived in the UK.

If your family member arrived before 31 December 2020

If your family member is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen they can apply for pre-settled or settled status. 

If your family member is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Some of your family members can apply for pre-settled or settled status if they also applied for a residence card or family permit by 31 December 2020. 

When your family member gets their residence card or family permit, they can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they’re your:

  • husband, wife or civil partner - and you got married or formed a civil partnership by 31 December 2020

  • unmarried partner - if you were living together as partners for 2 years by 31 December 2020

  • unmarried partner and there’s other evidence you’re in a long-term relationship - for example, you had a child together by 31 December 2020

  • parents or grandparents

  • children or grandchildren under the age of 21 

Your other family members can only apply if they’re dependent on you. Your family member is dependent on you if they can't meet their basic needs without your financial support or care - they could be in full-time education, disabled or ill.

If you care for a child - for example, a foster child or a niece or nephew - they can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they applied for a residence card as an extended family member by 31 December 2020.

If your family member arrived after 31 December 2020

Your family member can apply for pre-settled or settled status if they’re your:

  • husband, wife or civil partner - and you got married or formed a civil partnership by 31 December 2020

  • unmarried partner - if you were living together for at least 2 years on 31 December 2020, or you have a child together

  • unmarried partner and there’s other evidence you’re in a long-term relationship - for example, you had a child together by 31 December 2020

  • parent or grandparent

  • child or grandchild under the age of 21 

  • dependent child over the age of 21

Your child is dependent on you if they can't meet their basic needs without your financial support or care - they could be in full-time education, disabled or ill.

Your relationship with your family member must have started before 31 December 2020 - unless you’re a Swiss citizen.

If your family member is a child born after 31 December 2020, you can also apply for pre-settled or settled status for them.

Check how your family member should apply

How your family member should apply depends on what citizenship they have and when they arrived in the UK.

If your family member is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

Your family member can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme now if either:

  • they arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020

  • they arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020 and they have a residence card or a family permit

If they came to the UK as a visitor after 31 December 2020, they’ll have to leave and apply to the scheme as a family member from outside the UK. 

Find out more about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK on GOV.UK.

If your family member is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

How your family member applies depends on when they arrived in the UK.

If your family member arrived here by 31 December 2020, they can apply for pre-settled or settled status. When they apply, they’ll need to prove their relationship to you. 

If they’re your extended family member or long-term partner, they can only apply for pre-settled or settled status if they have a residence card or family permit. 

If they applied for a residence card or family permit before 1 January 2021, they can apply for pre-settled or settled status when they get their card or permit. 

Your extended family members are your:

  • brothers or sisters

  • aunts or uncles

  • nieces or nephews

  • cousins

Find out more about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme if your family member arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020.

If your family member arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020, they can apply for pre-settled or settled status if they entered the UK with:

  • an EEA or EU Settlement Scheme family permit

  • a residence card

  • a valid work, study or family visa

If your family member arrived in the UK as a visitor, they must leave the UK and either:

  • apply for a family permit - if they don’t have a residence card

  • apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as a family member from outside the UK - if they have a residence card

Your family member can apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit on GOV.UK.

Find out more about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK on GOV.UK.

Proving your family relationship

When your family member applies, they’ll need to prove their relationship to you if they’re either:

  • a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

  • a citizen of any country and they arrived after 31 December 2020

If your family member got a residence card before 31 December 2020, they can use this to prove their relationship to you.

If they don’t have a residence card, the evidence they need to use depends on how they’re related to you.

Children under 21 years old

The evidence you need to use depends on what citizenship your child has.

If your child is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

You should use their birth or adoption certificate to prove their relationship to you. If the child is your grandchild or great-grandchild, you also need birth certificates that prove your relationship to their parent.

If your child is from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

If they don't have a residence card, you should use:

  • their birth certificate

  • their adoption certificate

  • their guardianship order - it’s important to get permission from the court that issued the order before you share it with the Home Office

  • a family permit

  • their birth certificate and your marriage or civil partnership certificate - if they’re your step-child

  • birth certificates that prove your relationship to their parent - if you’re their grandparent or great-grandparent

Check if your child has British citizenship

Your child might already be a British citizen if they were born in the UK or they have a British parent. You can check if your child is already a British citizen.

If your child is already a British citizen, you can apply for a British passport for them on GOV.UK. It’s still worth applying for pre-settled or settled status for your child - it’s free to apply.

Children over 21 years old

Your child will need to prove their relationship to you and prove they’re dependent on you. Your child must have become dependent on you before 1 January 2021.

Proving their relationship to you

Your child can prove their relationship to you using:

  • their birth or adoption certificate

  • their guardianship order

  • a residence card

  • a family permit

If the child is your step-child, they’ll need their birth certificate and your marriage or civil partnership certificate.

If they’re your grandchild or great-grandchild, they’ll need birth certificates proving your relationship to their parents and grandparents.

Proving they're dependent on you

If your child got a residence card as a dependent child, they don’t need to prove they’re dependent on you again.

If your child doesn’t have a residence card, they’ll need to prove they depend on you to pay for their basic needs. 

The best way to prove your child is dependent on you is with bank statements showing, for example:

  • rent or mortgage payments on your home if they live with you or another home if they live elsewhere

  • regular payments you make to them - for example if they're not working because they’re in full-time education

  • payments to meet their medical needs

They can use their bank statements or yours.

If your child is disabled or ill, they also need to prove that this is why they depend on you. The best way to prove this is with a letter from a hospital or your family doctor.

Husbands, wives and civil partners

They can prove their relationship with you using:

  • a residence card

  • a residence card inside their passport - if they applied for it based on your relationship

  • a family permit

  • your marriage or civil partnership certificate 

  • a registration certificate - if they applied for it based on your relationship

Your partner can still use a registration certificate to prove their relationship with you, even if it’s not valid anymore.

Long-term partners

They can prove their relationship with you using a residence card or a family permit.

If they don’t have a residence card or a family permit, they can use things like:

  • joint bank statements

  • joint utility bills

  • joint mortgage statements or tenancy agreements

  • your child’s birth certificate

Parents and grandparents

Your parents and grandparents include adoptive parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, and those of your husband, wife or civil partner.

Your parents and grandparents can prove their relationship to you using:

  • a residence card

  • a family permit

  • your birth certificate or adoption certificate - if they're your parent

  • birth or adoption certificates for you and a parent - if they're your grandparent

  • birth or adoption certificates for you, a parent and grandparent - if they're your great-grandparent

If they're a family member of your husband, wife or civil partner, they also need to show proof of this relationship - for example your marriage certificate.

After 30 June 2021, your parents and grandparents can only apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they can prove they’re dependent on you. It will be much easier for your parents and grandparents to get pre-settled or settled status if they apply before 30 June 2021.

Brothers, sisters and other family members

Your extended family members can’t apply to the EU Settlement Scheme unless they applied for a family permit or residence card by 31 December 2020. 

Your extended family members are your:

  • brothers or sisters

  • aunts or uncles

  • nephews or nieces

  • cousins

If your brother or sister is dependent on you

If they can’t apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, they might be able to get a visa to live in the UK if:

  • they’re dependent on you because of disability, illness or age

  • you have settled status 

These visas are difficult to get - if your brother or sister is thinking of applying for one, talk to an adviser.

You can find out more about visas for dependent adult relatives on GOV.UK.

Page last reviewed on 14 December 2020