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Keeping your family in the UK after Brexit

This advice applies to Wales

If you're from the EU, EEA or Switzerland and want your family to stay in the UK, they'll each need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they’re already a British citizen they won’t need to do anything.

How they apply and what they need to show depends on where they’re from and how they’re related to you. 

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

If they’re not children aged under 21, check if they should apply to stay using the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you already have the right to stay

If you’re an Irish or British citizen you already have the right to stay in the UK. Depending on your circumstances, you could make it easier for family members from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland to stay as well.

If you’re an Irish citizen

As an Irish citizen you don’t have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - you already have the right to stay in the UK.

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. They won’t then have to prove how long you’ve been in the UK for. You’ll get a 'unique application number' when you apply. They can then use this number when they 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 might also 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.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you want to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and you want to check if you're British.

If you have family from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your family members from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland might be able to apply to the scheme even if you’re a dual national.

They can apply if:

  • they lived with you in another EU country - including the Republic of Ireland
  • you applied to become a British citizen after you came to the UK (known as 'naturalisation')

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think this applies to you.

If you’re a British citizen who has lived and worked in the EU

If you’re living in the UK with a family member from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland they’ll be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

They have to use a paper form to apply.

If they don’t have a residence card with a biometric chip, they need documents to prove their relationship to you.  

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think this applies to you.

 

If you’re an EEA citizen who’s become a British citizen

If your family member is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, they'll be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

If they don’t yet have a residence card proving their relationship to you, they need documents to prove their relationship to you.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think this applies to you.

If you have children under 21 or you’re pregnant

Your child might have the right to stay if they were born in the UK or you’ve been living in the country for some time. This includes step-children, adopted children or if you’re their legal guardian.

If your child was born in the UK

If your child was born in the UK after you got 'permanent residence', 'indefinite leave to remain' or 'settled status' they’ll automatically be a British citizen. They don't need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You can get a British passport for them - find out more about getting a child’s passport on GOV.UK.

They might also be a British citizen if:

If you were living in the UK for less than 5 years before they were born, they’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - you can do it for them.

If your child was born outside the UK

You’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for your child. You can also do this if you’re their step-parent, legal guardian, grandparent or great-grandparent.

The easiest way to do this is to link their application to yours - they'll get the same status as you.

You’ll need to apply first. You’ll get a 'unique application number' which you can use when you fill in their application.

This means they won’t have to prove how long they’ve been in the UK for. 

If you have a long-term partner who isn’t a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland

If you have a long-term partner but aren't in a civil partnership or married, they can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme through their relationship to you.

They'll need to:

  • have a residence card or 'EEA family permit'
  • prove they’ve been living with you since the card or permit was issued - this can be something sent in both your names to the same address like a bank statement or electricity bill

Find out more about getting a residence card on GOV.UK.

If you have close family who aren’t citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Close family can be your:

  • husband, wife or civil partner
  • children, step-children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren under 21 
  • parents, grandparents or great-grandparents - or those of your wife, husband or civil partner

They can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme because of their relationship to you. They’ll need to show proof of their relationship to you and that you’ve been living in the UK.

If they’re close family members of your husband, wife or civil partner - they’ll also need to show proof of this relationship, for example your marriage certificate.

If your child or step-child is aged 21 or over they’ll need to prove they’re ‘dependent’ on you to apply to the scheme. This means they can't meet their basic needs without your financial support or care - they could be in full-time education, disabled or ill.

You can prove this with things like bank statements or a letter from the hospital.

Proving you’ve been living in the UK

Your family member will need to prove you’re living in the UK. The easiest way to do this is if you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme first.

You’ll get a ‘unique application number’. Your family member can then use this number when they apply - it will show you’re living in the UK.

If they don't use this number, they can still prove you’re living in the UK by showing documents like your council tax bill or a letter from your employer.

Proving their relationship to you

Your family member can prove their relationship to you by using:

  • a residence card

  • a registration certificate

  • a permanent residence card

  • an EEA family permit

If they don’t have one of these documents they'll need to show something else. What they show depends on the kind of relationship they have to you.

It could be:

  • for your husband, wife or civil partner — your marriage or civil partnership certificate or registration certificate for a same sex relationship from overseas
  • for your children – their birth certificate
  • for your step-children – their birth certificate and proof that their birth parent is related to you, for example with a marriage certificate
  • for your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents or those of your wife, husband or civil partner - the birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates of every family member involved

If you have extended family who aren’t citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your extended family are people like your aunt, cousin, brother or sister. They might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they depend on you for their basic needs.

If they’re not dependent on you there are other ways they can apply to stay in the UK. You should contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think this applies to your family member. 

Proving they’re dependent on you

Your family member will already need to have:

  • an EEA family permit
  • a residence card
  • a permanent residence card

When they applied for this document, they’ll have proved they rely on you for their basic needs.

They’ll now need to prove this relationship is continuing when they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they’re ill or disabled and you’re caring for them they could show a letter from the hospital. If they’re living with you they could show a letter to you both at the same address from the benefits office or the bank.

If they’re the extended family of your husband, wife or civil partner, they’ll also need to have a residence document that was issued to them before 1 February 2017.

If you’re struggling to prove any of these things you can contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

If your extended family member is a carer

Someone from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland who cares for another family member may not be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. There are other ways they can apply to stay in the UK.

You should get advice if you think this applies to you. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Next steps

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

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