Following the most recent UK elections held last December, there have been a few changes in regards to the routes that European citizens can take to be able to live and work in the UK legally after Brexit. Don’t panic, it is all positive, so please keep reading.
Firstly, when is Brexit?
Brexit day is on 31st January 2020, this is when trade talks with the EU will begin to try to reach new agreements. The deadline to reach an agreement is at the end of this year, on the 31st December 2020 – unless an extension is requested by the 30th June 2020. The UK will then start the transition on the 1st January 2021, regardless of whether an agreement with the EU has been reached (soft Brexit) or no agreement has been made (hard Brexit).
Applying to the European Settlement Scheme
If you are already living in the UK, the quickest and least expensive option (it’s free) is to apply to the European Settlement Scheme. Once you apply to this scheme, you’ll be granted either a pre-settled or a settled status. You’ll get pre-settled status if you’ve lived in the UK less than five years and settled status if you’ve lived in the UK for five years or more. People with pre-settled status can apply for a settled status once they have completed five years living in the UK.
Who can apply to the European Settlement Scheme?
- European citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland currently living in the UK
- European citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland moving to the UK before Brexit exit dates
- European citizens with a UK permanent residence status
- European citizens with indefinite leave to remain
- EU, EEA and Swiss Frontier workers wanting to live in the UK
- Non-EU citizens living in the UK who are family of EU frontier workers
- European citizens who start work or self-employment in another EU country but return home every week
- Citizens who fall into other categories
European citizens living in the UK
All European citizens from the EEA (European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland currently living in the UK are required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Citizens holding a British passport, Irish passport or indefinite leave to remain are exempt from applying. Citizens with indefinite leave to remain can choose to apply if they would like to take advantage of an extension in the length of time they can live outside of the UK without losing their status.
The deadline to apply depends on whether the UK leaves with or without a deal as follows:
Deal: Apply for EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021
No deal: Apply for EU Settlement Scheme by 31st December 2020 (deadline has been extended)
UK permanent residents
All EEA or Swiss citizens with UK permanent residence must apply either to the European Settlement Scheme or for British citizenship (if they are eligible) before the UK leaves the EU as follows:
Deal: Apply for EU Settlement Scheme or British Citizenship by 30th June 2021
No deal: Apply for EU Settlement Scheme or British Citizenship by 31st December 2020
Find out more about applying for British Citizenship
If you start work or self-employment in another EU country
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen you can get settled status if you start work or self-employment in another EU country as long as you have lived and worked or been self-employed in the UK continuously for three years beforehand, and usually return to your UK home once a week. Your family may also be eligible for settled status if they were a family member at the time you started work or self-employment in another EU country.
If you are a frontier worker who is not living in the UK, you will be able to continue crossing borders and do not need to apply for the European Settlement Scheme to be able to enter the UK to work. However, if you’d like to live in the UK, you’ll be required to apply for the European Settlement Scheme.
Non-EEA citizen family members of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen frontier workers can also apply for this scheme if the EU, EEA or Swiss citizen frontier worker does not live in the UK, as long as the family member does. Find out more about rules for frontier workers and their families.
Europeans intending to move to the UK
If you are intending to move to the UK to live permanently, there is one deadline to enter the country and another deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. It is imperative that you are already in the country when applying. The dates depend on whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal or without a deal as follows:
- Enter the country by 31stDecember 2020
- Apply for EU Settlement Scheme by 30thJune 2021
- Enter the country by the date the UK leaves the EU, currently set at 31stDecember 2020 (deadline has been extended)
- Apply for EU Settlement Scheme by 31stDecember 2020
Applying for British citizenship
If you are eligible, you can apply for British citizenship to gain full British citizen rights. This process involves taking the Living in the UK Test and an English language test, as well as completing some paperwork and an application fee, amongst other requirements.
You can apply for British citizenship if you hold any of the following status:
- Settled status, granted through applying via the European Settlement Scheme
- UK permanent resident status
- Indefinite leave to remain or indefinite leave to enter the UK
To apply for British citizenship, you should have lived in the UK for at least 12 months after gaining any of the above status, unless you are married to a British citizen in which case, you’ll be able to apply straight away.
Please note: all information above is correct to the best of our knowledge at time of writing. Please be sure to do your own research and seek professional advice if you are unsure or visit the UK government website for further details and applying.
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