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16 February, 2021

5 million EU citizens stay in the UK after Brexit

4.3 million people have already been granted settler status in the UK by February 2021. Around 700,000 more applications are pending at the Home Office. We tell you what settler status entails and how to get it.

UK residence permit for EU citizens after Brexit
Photo: Adobe Stock

In December 2020, the UK and EU government agreed on rules for living, travelling, studying and working in the region after Brexit. The rules came into force on 1 January 2021.

Citizens of the European Economic Arearn(EEA) and Switzerland are eligible to stay in the UK if they receive settler status under the special EUSS scheme.

Settler status applications are accepted until June 30, 2021. By mid-February, about 5 million people had applied. This is more than the population of some EU countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia.

What gives the UK settler status and how to get it

From 1 July 2021, the UK Home Office will not accept European Permanent Residence Cards and certificates of registration in EEA states and Switzerland. Citizens of these countries must obtain settler status in order to continue to live, work and study legally in the UK.

Settler status also preserves access to public and social services in the UK. A settler is entitled to free health care and education, cash benefits and pension payments. We talked about this in the article 'How to live with EU citizenship in the UK'.

Who can obtain settler status? The EUSS scheme applies to EEA and Swiss nationals who:

  • entered the UK before 31 December 2020 and stayed in the country;
  • were born in the UK but do not have British citizenship;
  • have a permanent residence in the UK;
  • are relatives of UK citizens.

Family members of EEA and Swiss citizens who are not themselves nationals of these countries can also obtain settler status in the UK.

How to apply for settler status

Before submitting an application, the applicant will confirm their identity and length of residence in the UK. To do this, you need a passport or biometric ID-card, registration certificate or other documents confirming residence in the country. You must verify your identity and apply on the UK Government website.

The foreigner will receive one of two settler statuses, if the Home Office approves their application. The status depends on how long they have lived in the UK.

Foreigners with permanent settler status are eligible to apply for British citizenship one year after receiving status.

Other ways to become a UK resident

Third-country nationals who are not part of the EEA can obtain a residence permit in the UK or a special visa in order to enjoy the rights of a British resident.

A new points-based scheme is being introduced for residence permits in the UK. In order to get a work or student visa, a candidate must score at least 70 points. It takes into account the profession, education, annual income and level of proficiency in the English language. Nationality is not taken into account.

Residence permits in the UK are no longer issued by investment. Previously, the Entrepreneur Investor Visa (Tier 1) was available by investing £2 million or more in a business. Now if a foreigner wants to start a business in the UK, they apply for the Innovator Visa or Start-up Visa. We talked about this in the article "How to get new business visas to the UK".

A Caribbean passport or Vanuatu passport is useful for visa-free travel to the UK for 180 days a year. Citizens of these countries also receive benefits for admission to British universities and apply for a student residence permit immediately in the UK.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for Citizenship by Investment programmes in the Caribbean and Vanuatu. If you want a second passport for visa-free entry to the UK, seek advice from our investment programme experts.

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5 million EU citizens stay in the UK after Brexit