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European nationals and their families

Apply for pre-settled and settled status in the UK for yourself and your family members.

Imperial & Legal provides assistance to Europeans and their non-EEA relatives to get a confirmation of residence status and/or permanent residence. Our regulated immigration lawyers provide advice and support in preparing all necessary documents and submitting applications on behalf of our clients.

All European nationals that are in the UK are required to apply under the settlement scheme to secure their status in the UK. Those who have been granted permanent residence under pre-Brexit rules must also apply.

Apply to stay in the UK after Brexit

You and your family can apply for UK settlement before 30 June 2021 and you must arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020.

It is free to apply. You will not be able to choose which status you are applying for; it is automatically set to settlement. However, it will depend on your circumstances whether you get settled or pre-settled status.

Settled status

If you are in the UK and can prove that you have been living here continuously for at least 5 years, you can expect to get settlement. Please note that these 5 years do not have to be directly preceding the date of application. For example, if you had previously lived in the UK for more than 5 years and then had left for 1-2 years and came back, you are eligible to apply for settlement.

During the 5-year qualifying period, you must not be absent from the country for long periods of time unless it was for a good reason such as a serious illness or work abroad.

This status gives you almost all the rights and freedoms as any British citizen apart from some voting rights. You can stay in the UK for as long as you want and in time apply for naturalisation.

Pre-settled status

If you have not spent 5 years in the UK or are unable to show it to the Home Office, you will be automatically granted a pre-settled status. It is a temporary residence permit with an expiration date. It is valid for 5 years and must be upgraded to settlement once you qualify for it.

Pre-settled status gives you rights to work and study in the UK, use NHS for free and apply for eligible benefits.

Bring family to the UK

European nationals can bring their family members before and after Brexit. It is a complex matter and each case must be dealt with individually. Your ability to bring family members to the country will depend on where you are from, when your relationship started and much more. That’s why we recommend contacting our immigration lawyers for expert advice.

Apply to stay under old rules

EEA nationals have until 31 December 2020 to apply for UK residence permit under the existing EEA rules if they want to stay here. This might be beneficial for those who have lived in the UK for more than 6 years and want to apply for British passport without waiting for another year, or for those whose case is complex and there is a big chance of refusal, because the old rules would allow an appeal.

To get permanent residence in the UK, EEA citizens must prove they are ‘qualified’ in one of the following categories by providing required evidence.


Full-time or half-time employment is permitted. If you lose a job, you have 6 months to find another one, provided you are registered with a Jobcentre Plus. Temporary incapacity due to an illness or accident is acceptable.


EEA nationals must register with the HMRC as self-employed, pay income tax and social contributions, and submit their tax returns.


EEA nationals must study in a licensed educational establishment. They must also prove they have enough money to maintain themselves, cover their daily and other expenses and provide a comprehensive sickness insurance. We can provide help in obtaining a private insurance.


This category of a qualified person requires you to prove they have enough resources to maintain themselves and a comprehensive sickness insurance not to be a burden on the social security system while they are in the UK.


EEA nationals must demonstrate they are actively looking for a job by registering with private or government agencies and submitting supporting evidence.

Confirming your status in the UK

Registration certificate is a confirmation that EEA/Swiss nationals have a right to be in the country and perform activities that are allowed, though there is no requirement to have it.

Family members, such as spouses, civil partners, children under 21 and other financially dependent relatives, may come and live in the UK if they obtain a residence card or a family permit depending on where they have lived prior to applying. Proof of relationships with a sponsor must be shown.

Permanent residence

After 5 years of having lived in the UK without long absences, EEA/Swiss citizens, and their non-EEA relatives that have spent that time with them, can get permanent residence, provided they have been meeting all conditions and requirements.

Retained rights of residence for family members

If an ЕЕА national is no longer a qualified person in the UK, their non-EEA family members normally lose a right to residency. They can still retain this right in some instances, e.g. death of the main applicant or divorce.

British citizenship

EEA/Swiss nationals can get a UK passport either 1 year or immediately after becoming permanent residents, if they’ve lived in the country for 5 or 6 years respectively before applying for it.

Non-EEA family members of European nationals can apply for naturalisation together with their sponsors if they all have lived in the UK for at least 5 years and obtained permanent residence. However, if a European national becomes British citizen by themselves, independent of their family members, the latter will be subject to more strict UK rules.

That is why EEA nationals, obtaining British citizenship, should think of consequences for their family members.

Are you a European national and want to live in the UK?

We will help you get your pre-settled and settled status here. Get in touch to start your application.