Check if you can get pre-settled status or settled status

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

You need permission to live in the UK if you're from a country in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

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

Your options for staying in the UK depend on your situation. 

The deadline for most people to apply for pre-settled or settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021. You might still be able to apply if you’re in one of these situations:

  • you started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and you need to make a late application

  • your family member has pre-settled or settled status and you want to join them in the UK

  • you have a valid biometric residence permit or visa

If you’re not in any of these situations, you can only stay in the UK as a visitor for up to 6 months. If you want to live in the UK, you’ll need a work, study or family visa. You can check if you can get a visa on GOV.UK.

If you’re a British or Irish citizen, you don’t need permission to stay in the UK. If you have family members who aren’t British or Irish, you can check if your family can stay in the UK.

If you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021

If you already have pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme, you have permission to stay in the UK.

If you applied on time and you’re waiting for a decision, you can check how to prove your rights in the UK.

If you started living in the UK by 31 December 2020

If you haven't applied to the EU Settlement Scheme yet, what you need to do depends on whether you have a biometric residence permit or visa.

If you don’t have a biometric residence permit or visa, you should check if you can make a late application for pre-settled or settled status.

If you have a valid biometric residence permit or visa, you need to apply for pre-settled or settled status before your leave expires. This doesn’t count as a late application. 

If you started living in the UK after 31 December 2020

If you have a family member in the UK with pre-settled or settled status, you might be able to apply to join them in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

You can only apply to join your family member if you have:

  • an EEA or EU Settlement Scheme family permit - you must apply within 3 months of arriving in the UK

  • a residence card

  • a valid visa - for example, a work, study or family visa

If you came to the UK as a visitor, you won’t have one of these documents. If you’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you’ll need to leave and apply from outside the UK. Find out more about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme as a family member.

If you’re not eligible to apply as a joining family member, you can’t apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you want to live in the UK, you’ll need a work, study or family visa. You can check if you can get a visa on GOV.UK.

If you’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

You might be able to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have family in the UK who are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland and both of the following are true:

  • you and your family member were in the UK by 31 December 2020

  • your relationship with them started before 31 December 2020 – unless they’re a Swiss citizen

You need to apply to the scheme even if you have a permanent residence card as it isn't valid any more.

Check if you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you weren’t in the UK by 31 December 2020

You might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you entered the UK with:

  • an EEA or EU Settlement Scheme family permit

  • a residence card

  • a valid work, study or family visa

If you came to the UK as a visitor, you’ll need to leave and apply from outside the UK. Find out more about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK.

If your relationship ended or your family member died

You might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if your relationship with an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen has ended. 

The family member doesn’t have to be your partner - for example, it could be your parent or child.

If your relationship with your family member broke down because of domestic abuse, you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - you should get specialist immigration advice first.

If you got a divorce or your family member died, check if you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme on GOV.UK.

Making a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme

If you didn’t apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, your rights in the UK have changed. If you can make a late application, you should do this as soon as possible.

Check if you can apply

You can make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme if you couldn’t apply on time for practical or ‘compassionate’ reasons. It will help if you have evidence to show why you couldn’t apply on time.

You might have a practical reason if you:

  • can’t speak English or use the internet

  • are homeless 

  • are disabled or have other support needs

  • have lived in the UK a long time and didn’t realise you needed to apply - for example, if you have permanent residence

  • are in prison and you don’t have access to advice or documents

You can also make a late application if you couldn’t get the evidence you needed in time - for example, because of coronavirus. If you’re waiting for a new passport or national identity card, you can still make a late application. You’ll need to:

You might also be able to make a late application for compassionate reasons. This might be because you:

  • have experienced domestic abuse

  • are a child and your parents didn’t apply for you

  • are a child in care or you recently left care

  • are a trafficking victim

There might be other good reasons why you couldn’t apply on time. When you make a late application, you should say what your reasons are and try to include evidence to show why you’re making a late application.

If you’re not sure you have a good reason for making a late application, talk to an adviser.

Check what your rights are if you haven’t applied

If you arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020 and you haven’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme yet, you don’t have permission to be in the UK. This will affect your rights.

If you make a late application, you’ll get your rights back while you’re waiting for a decision.

If you want to leave the UK and come back again

If you leave the UK, you might not be allowed to enter the country again. 

If you left the UK and were refused entry when you came back, you should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK - if you’re eligible to make a late application.

If you get benefits or want to make a new claim

You can’t claim most benefits until you get pre-settled or settled status - this includes Universal Credit.

If you already get benefits

You might stop getting them if you didn’t apply for pre-settled or settled status by 30 June 2021.

If your benefits do stop, you can make a new claim if you get pre-settled or settled status. 

If you want to work or study

If you want to start working or studying, you’ll have to prove your right to work or study. You can’t do this until you get pre-settled or settled status.

If you started working or studying by 30 June 2021 and you already proved your right to work or study, you shouldn't have to prove it again.

If you’re asked to prove your right to work or study again, it might be discrimination.

If you want to bring family to the UK

Your family members can’t apply to join you in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme until you get pre-settled or settled status.  

You can check if your family members can join you in the UK.

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 make a late applicationfor pre-settled status. To get it, you'll need to prove you:

  • lived in the UK for at least 1 day on or before 31 December 2020

  • haven’t left the UK for more than 6 months since 31 December 2020

If you get pre-settled status, you can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. After you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years, you should apply for settled status to stay for longer. 

You can spend up to 2 years outside the UK without losing your pre-settled status - but if you want to apply for settled status later, you need to:

  • have lived in the UK for 5 years in a row

  • prove that you lived in the UK for 6 months out of every 12 months during those 5 years

The 5 years can include time before you got pre-settled status.

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

If you retired or had to stop working

If you get a UK State Pension, you’ll automatically get settled status if your late application to the EU Settlement Scheme is successful.

You might get settled status if you've lived in the UK for less than 5 years and any of the following apply:

  • you had to stop working permanently because of an accident or illness

  • you retired early

  • you stopped working when you reached State Pension age - check your State Pension age on GOV.UK

Talk to an adviser before you apply.

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

You should make a late application for settled status.

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

  • bring your family to live in the UK

  • apply for British citizenship 1 year after getting your status - or immediately if your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen

Find out what you need to apply for settled status.

If you have a ‘permanent residence’ document

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

Your permanent residence document isn't valid any more. If you haven't applied for settled status already, check if you can make a late application.

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

You might also find it easier to apply for British citizenship after you get settled status.

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

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 could make a late application 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 have indefinite leave to remain and you didn’t realise you could apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, the government has said this is a good reason for making a late application.

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 check if you can make a late application for settled status. If you came to the UK before 1989, 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.

Check if you're a British citizen on GOV.UK.

If you’re not already a British citizen or you don’t want citizenship, check if you can make a late application for settled status.  

Find out what you need to apply for settled status.

If your child was born in the UK

If you have settled status when your child is born, they will automatically get British citizenship.

If you got settled status after your child was born, they will still be a British citizen if both of the following apply:

  • you were eligible for settled status on 30 June 2021

  • they were born after 30 June 2021

If you have pre-settled status, or haven’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme yet,  you’ll need to apply to the scheme for your child within 3 months of their birth. If you don’t,  you might have to pay NHS charges for hospital treatment your child receives.

If you're a Maltese or Cypriot citizen

If 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')

You will not be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you already have 'right of abode' in the UK. If you have right of abode, you don't need permission under the immigration rules or EU law to live in the UK. You should have a certificate of entitlement to right of abode in your current or previous passport. 

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 check if you can make a late application 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.

Claiming benefits and getting help with housing

You have the right to apply for benefits or help with housing from your local council if you have settled status.

If you have pre-settled status, it’s easier to get benefits and housing help if you have another ‘right to reside’ - this depends on things like your work and family.

You can check if you have a right to reside for benefits and check if you have a right to reside for housing.

Talk to an adviser if you’re worried about claiming benefits and getting help with housing.

Page last reviewed on 01 July 2021