The rights of EU citizens after Brexit

After Brexit, EU citizens living in the UK lost the right to live and work there without restriction. The government introduced an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to help those who were already situated in the UK continue their lives without disruption.

Most EU citizens would have had to apply to the EUSS by 30 June 2021 in order to remain in the UK.

If you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you can still apply if you have reasonable grounds for not applying by 30 June 2021.

You may still join a family member who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020, as long as you were already their family member at that time and can demonstrate your family relationship still exists.

EU citizens can still travel to the UK for holidays without needing a visa. However, you will need to use a valid passport to enter and may not use your EU national ID card.

The exception is Irish citizens, who can continue to enter and live in the UK with their passport cards, as the UK and Ireland have a treaty that predates the EU treaty.


The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

Pre-settled status

EU citizens and their families living in the UK for under five years by 31 December 2020 needed to apply for pre-settled status, which allowed you to live and work in the UK until you reached the five-year threshold to apply for settled status.

Settled status

Settled status is similar to indefinite leave to remain in that it allows you to stay indefinitely in the UK. It was granted to EU citizens and their family members who had lived in the UK continuously for five years or more by 31 December 2020. If you were initially granted pre-settled status, you may still apply for settled stats when you qualify.

Reasonable grounds for missing the EU Settlement Scheme deadline

If you did not apply for the EUSS by 30 June 2021, you will need to demonstrate that you had "reasonable grounds" for missing this deadline in order to still apply. Some examples of reasonable grounds include:

  • You're a child and you did not know you needed to apply, or your parent, guardian or local authority failed to apply on your behalf.
  • You have or had a medical condition that meant you were unable to apply.
  • You lacked the mental or physical capacity to apply.
  • You did not have internet access or access to relevant documents.
  • You were in an abusive or controlling relationship that prevented you from applying.
  • You were unable to apply for yourself due to care or support needs and those caring for you were unaware of the deadline.
  • You were in the UK on a work or study visa at the time and were unaware you were eligible to apply.
  • You had a permanent residency status or residence document that you were unaware stopped being valid on 30 June 2021.
  • You were a victim of modern slavery.

The above is not an exhaustive list and each reason is considered on a case-by-case basis. If you think you might have a reasonable grounds for missing the application deadline, please get in touch with our team and we'd be happy to assess whether we think you have a solid case that's worth pursuing.

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Naturalising as a UK citizen

After you've held settled status for 12 months, you'll usually be able to apply for citizenship. If you're married to a British citizen, you do not need to wait 12 months to apply

You will also need to show:

  • You're over 18
  • You were in the UK exactly five years before the day your application is received by the Home Office
  • English language ability
  • You've passed the Life in the UK test
  • You intend to continue living in the UK
  • You're of good character

We can help you ensure you get your application right the first time.

Child born in the UK to EU nationals

It is possible for a child (under the age of 18 years) born in the UK to non-British parents to register as a British citizen if:

  • One of the parents held settled status (or was otherwise a permanent resident) at the time the child was born – in which case the child is automatically a British citizen at birth
  • One of the parents held Irish citizenship at the time the child was born
  • One of the parents subsequently becomes a permanent resident (even if this is a “deemed” status in law), British citizen or Irish citizen (though this must take place before the child turns 18)
  • The child lives continuously in the UK for the first 10 years of their life
  • The child is born stateless (i.e. without acquiring the nationality of the parents automatically at birth), though an application to register the child must take place before the child turns 18

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