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Staying in the UK after Brexit

This advice applies to Scotland

If you’re from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you and your family will usually need to apply to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021. The EEA includes EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

You can do this by applying:

  • to the EU Settlement Scheme for 'settled status' or 'pre-settled status'
  • for British citizenship

It's free to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Check if you need to apply

You don’t need to apply to stay in the UK after Brexit if you already have British or Irish citizenship.

If you or your child was born in the UK

You or your child might be eligible for British citizenship or you might already have it.  

Check if you have or can get citizenship.

If you have a ‘permanent residence’ document

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 have ‘indefinite leave to remain’

You don't need to apply for settled status or citizenship if you have indefinite leave to remain.

It's worth applying for settled status because you can live outside the UK for 5 years without losing your 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. This will make sure you can stay in the UK after 30 June 2021.

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 have been given indefinite leave to remain without applying for it.

You might 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 or you can't find the documents, you should apply for settled status. This will make sure you can stay in the UK after 30 June 2021.

Find out what you need do to apply for settled status

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK until 30 June 2021. 

You should apply for settled or pre-settled status or citizenship by 31 December 2020 because your rights will  change after this date.

If you’ve been in the UK for 5 years or more

You’ll usually get settled status if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more. Once you have settled status, you can stay as long as you like. You can live outside the UK for up to 5 years in a row without losing your status.

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

You'll get pre-settled status if you've lived in the UK for less than 5 years. This means you can stay in the UK for up to 5 years. You can apply for settled status when you’ve lived in the UK for a total of 5 years - including the years before you got pre-settled status.

You can live outside the UK for up to 2 years without losing your pre-settled status. However, if you want to get settled status, you need to live in the UK for at least 6 months each year before you apply for settled status.

Find out what you need to do to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Decide if British citizenship is right for you.

Living in the UK with your family

How your family applies to stay in the UK will depend on where they’re from and how they’re related to you.

Bringing family to live in the UK after Brexit

They’ll need to be in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

If they aren’t living in the UK by 31 December 2020, they can apply to join you if you have pre-settled or settled status. You also need to prove that your relationship began before 31 December 2020.

If your family member is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, they need an EEA family permit to enter the UK. It will be valid for 6 months. Find out more about the EEA family permit on GOV.UK.

Read more about staying in the UK with your family after Brexit.

Keeping your rights

Your rights to live, work and study in the UK will stay the same until 31 December 2020. You can continue to:

After 31 December 2020

You need to have pre-settled or settled status to:

  • stay in the UK for more than 3 months
  • work
  • study
  • use the NHS
  • claim the state pension

You must have settled status to claim some benefits like Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Child Benefit. You must also have settled status to get help with housing from your local council.

If you only have pre-settled status, those benefits might stop and you might not be able to get help with housing from your local council.

Proving you have settled or pre-settled status

You view and prove your settled or pre-settled status and your rights online.

You don’t need to carry identity with you to prove your status.

If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland you will not get a card to prove you have settled or pre-settled status.

If you’re from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will get a card if you don’t already have a residence card with a biometric chip.

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