EU Settlement Scheme

Pre-settled and settled status

The EU Settlement Scheme opened fully on 30 March 2019 and the deadline to apply for most people was 30 June 2021. Some people can apply after this date and the scheme is also still open to those with pre-settled status who are eligible to apply for settled status. 

You can find further information on GOV.UK about who can still apply to the scheme and the eligibility criteria. 

Your rights with pre-settled or settled status 

Visit GOV.UK to understand your right to work, study and live in the UK and how to prove this. 

Spending time outside the UK 

If you have settled status, you can spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status (4 years for Swiss citizens). 

If you have pre-settled status, you can spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status. However, you need to maintain your continuous residence in the UK if you wish to apply for Settled status in the future. 

Travelling through the UK border 

You can use your EU, EEA or Swiss National ID Card to travel through the UK border until at least 31 December 2025 if you hold status under the EU Settlement Scheme. However, you must ensure that you have the correct identity document listed in your UKVI account and only travel through the UK border with this document. 

Keeping your UKVI account up to date 

You must keep your UKVI account up to date to ensure that you can continue to prove your right to work, rent and travel through the UK border. 

Applying for settled status

Settled status is not automatically granted, you need to meet the eligibility criteria and make an application. To be eligible for Settled status, you must have lived in the UK for 5 years in a row and not been outside the UK for more than 6 months in any 12-month period. This is referred to as continuous residence. If you spend more than 6 months abroad in any 12-month period, you will break your continuous residence and lose your ability to apply for settled status in the future. In some cases, your absence will not break your continuous residence if it’s for an ‘important’ reason which is determined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Refer to the section ‘Absences from the UK’ for more information. We advise keeping track of your absences from the UK including holidays using the absence calculator on the3million website

Although you may break your continuous residence and not be eligible for settled status in the future, your pre-settled status will remain valid until it’s expiry date. You will lose your pre-settled status if you spend more than 2 years in a row outside the UK.  

You can apply for settled status as soon as you meet the 5-year continuous residency criteria. You will need to show acceptable evidence to prove you've been living in the UK for 5 years in a row. The type of evidence you can submit is outlined in the EU Settlement Scheme Guidance in the ‘Evidence of residence’ section. The 5 years is counted from the day you started your continuous residence, not the day you were granted pre-settled status. You must apply for Settled status or another visa type before your pre-settled status expires or you will lose your right to remain living in the UK. 

Absences from the UK

The EU Settlement Scheme Guidance has a non-exhaustive list of ‘important’ reasons which are acceptable for being outside the UK for more than 6 months in any 12-month period. These include a single period of absence of more than 6 months, but less than 12 months where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting or because of COVID-19. 

If you are going on a year abroad during your programme, you must not spend more than 12 months outside the UK on your year abroad if you want to apply for Settled status in the future. You will need to include a letter from SOAS confirming your year abroad with your Settled status application to prove that you had an important reason for being outside the UK for more than 6 months but less than 12. 

If you think you may have been outside the UK for too long, you should seek immigration advice on your options as this is a complex area. Immigration advice is regulated in the UK and you can find a registered adviser through the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA).  

Help and guidance

As with other non-student immigration routes, the Student Advice Service does not offer one-to-one advice on the EU Settlement Scheme. There are many external organisations that can provide you with advice and guidance: 

  • Further information on the EU Settlement Scheme can be found on GOV.UK

  • Find a regulated immigration adviser through the OISC or ILPA

  • The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has produced some useful information for EU/EEA and Swiss students and their family members.  

  • The Free Movement blog is a useful source of up-to-date information and they also offer chargeable legal services.  

  • The Aire Centre provides EU/EEA specific immigration advice and has a free telephone advice service you can access. 

  • Settled is a charity that provides information, advice and support to EU citizens, including people who are late applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), or who have had their application refused. 

  • Citizens Advice may be able to offer appointments, and have useful information on their website

  • the3Million are the largest campaign organisation for EU citizens in the UK and have published some useful articles and tools on absences and how to calculate them.