7 Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme You Need To Know


On July 17th 2023 and September 7th 2023, the government changed immigration rules relating to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme

In this article, we’ll cover the most important changes so you can stay in the know.

Automatic extensions For Pre-Settled status

Starting from September 2023, if you have pre-settled status under the EUSS and you haven’t gotten settled status yet, you’ll automatically get a two year extension before your status expires.

This will be handled by the Home Office, who will update your UKVI account. You don’t have to apply for this extension and you will receive an email to let you know when the extension is applied.

While you have this extended pre-settled status, all of your rights stay the same, so you can keep doing what you’re doing in the UK without any worries.

Automatic upgrades to full settled status coming in 2024

In 2024, the Home office also plans to make things even easier for people with pre-settled status by automatically upgrading them to full settled status when they are eligible.

This means that eventually you won’t have to fill out a second application to make the switch. Although until then, you will have to apply to switch from pre-settled to settled.

To do this, the government will use automated checks to make sure you’ve been living in the UK for 5 years continuously. If these requirements are met, you’ll be automatically upgraded.

If, for some reason, they can’t decide based on the data they already have, it’s possible you may get an invite to apply for settled status if you want to.

Stricter rules for late applications

Starting from August 9th 2023, tougher rules were put in place for people who want to make a late application under the EUSS. Here's what you should know:

  • Reasonable Excuse is now a validity requirement. Before, having a “reasonable excuse” for applying late was something that was looked at after checking your application’s validity. Now, it’s one of the first things they check. So, whether you have a good reason for being late is now the first hurdle to clear.

  • No right of appeal. If the Home Office rejects your application because you don’t have a good enough reason for being late, you can’t appeal or ask for a review. The decision is final.

  • Proving your excuse is tougher. You’ll have to prove, based on objective evidence, that your reasons for applying later are valid.

  • Changes to when you get a Certificate of Application. Before these changes, late applicants were given a Certificate of Application (CoA) right away, which could be used to prove your right to work or right to rent. Now, late applicants won’t get a CoA until their reason and application have been deemed valid.

The Home Office has issued guidance as to what might be considered a good reason for making a late EUSS application, such as having a serious medical condition or because of COVID-19. The list they provide does not cover every valid reason they may accept, however it may be of help to those considering making a late application.

Closure of EUSS Family Permit Route for Surinder Signh and Zambrano applicants

On 8th August 2023, there were also changes applied to the EUSS Family Permit route. Now, the EU Settlement Scheme is closed for two specific groups of people:

  1. Surinder Singh Cases: Family members of British citizens who lived with them in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein.

  2. Zambrano Cases: A person who has no other lawful basis of stay in the UK as the primary carer of a dependent British citizen, or as a dependent of that primary carer.

Applications made before 9th August by a person with a Zambrano right to reside or as a Surinder Singh application will get a decision as soon as possible.

Changes to definition of “Dependent Relative”

The Home Office have also changed how they define a “dependent relative” under Appendix EU.

Before, this definition didn’t include the adult child of a durable partner (that is someone you’ve been in a relationship with for at least 2 years, who lives with you, or is someone you have a child with).

Now, if the adult child of a durable partner was granted leave in this capacity when they were under 18, they qualify as a dependent relative.

Removal of the right to Administrative Review

From October 5th 2023, the right to an “administrative review” of decisions related to EUSS refusals and cancellations has been taken away.

However, in line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (CRAs), individuals have a right to appeal decisions related to EUSS refusals if they feel they weren’t fair.

Clarification of Dependency Policy

If someone has been granted pre-settled status as a dependent parent or child, it was unclear if they needed to provide evidence of their dependency when they applied again under Appendix EU.

Now, it’s been made clear that they don’t need to provide that evidence in further applications in order to simplify the process when it comes to dependency.

Reasons for The EU Settlement Scheme changes

Some of these changes have happened because of a High Court judgement on a case called Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements v the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

The High Court said that the way the EUSS was working before was unfair. They ruled that individuals shouldn’t lose their right to remain in the UK just because they didn’t apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expired.

Other changes are intended to provide clarity to applicants and to taper off late applications by closing routes and narrowing the criteria for which late applications are deemed valid.

Who do these changes affect?

These changes are relevant to those who currently hold pre-settled status and have yet to apply for the switch to settled. If they do not apply, their rights will still be protected during the extension period.

There is, however, a bit of uncertainty about what the Home Office will do after, or even during this temporary extension. It’s not clear how they’ll handle people who might not qualify for settled status if, for example, they broke their continuity of residence by spending more than 6 months outside of the UK in a 12 month period. So it’s important to keep an eye on how things develop if you do have pre-settled status.

Some of the recent changes also apply to individuals who may be considering making a late application to the EUSS.

Tips for those with pre-settled status

With these changes, and considering the potential issues that might come up in relation to right to work, rent, use the NHS and get eligible benefits, here are some important tips for those who currently hold pre-settled status in the UK:

  • Apply for Settled Status as soon as you can. If you’ve been living continuously in the UK for at least five years, you don’t have to wait for the automatic extension. The clock for those five years starts from the day you first started living continuously in the UK, not from when you were granted your pre-settled status. So, don’t wait! Apply for settled status as soon as you are eligible to.

  • Don’t let your pre-settled status expire. Unless you’ve been told in an email from the Home Office that your status has been extended automatically, don’t let it expire without reapplying.

  • Keep your UK Visas and Immigration account up to date. If you’ve changed your mobile number, email address, name, identity document, home address, or postal address since being granted pre-settled status, you should update your UKVI details right away. You can do this online, and you’ll need an identity document that proves the change if you’re updating your name or ID in any way.

  • Keep records to prove residence. While the government plans to automate the extension process (and eventually the switch to settled status), it might come about that they don’t have enough data to prove your eligibility. For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep hold of things like bank statements, payslips, tax, and pension statements, as you might need them.

At Lawhive, we have a large team of experienced immigration solicitors who can help with all types of immigration applications. We offer fast, affordable access to legal help with the EU Settlement Scheme should you need it. If you require legal help of this kind, please tell us about your case using the simple online enquiry form.

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