With a few exceptions (for example, Irish citizens and those with indefinite leave to remain), EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were living in the UK by 31 December 2020 should apply to the EUSS if they wish to retain their pre-Brexit residence rights after 30 June 2021 (including their right to work and study in the UK).
A successful application will grant either:
- 'settled status' for individuals who have been living in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years; or
- 'pre-settled status' for those who do not meet the 5 years requirement at the time of the application, which can then be switched to 'settled status' once they have achieved 5 years' continuous residence.
Special concessions have been introduced in light of the pandemic for individuals who were living in the UK by 31 December 2020, but left the UK for one period of no more than 12 months for an important reason (which includes travel disruptions, quarantine and remote working or studying).
Failure to apply to the EUSS on time will put at risk the individual's rights to live, work, study and even rent a home in the UK – with employers and landlords potentially liable to pay a fine if they fail to verify the immigration status of their employees or tenants.
With the 30 June 2021 deadline fast approaching, applications should be submitted as soon as possible. Applicants should also bear in mind that they will need to provide proof of identity and residence in the UK. The risk of not obtaining a decision by then should be no disincentive to applying, however, as the government has confirmed protection of the rights of individuals who have applied on time, but are still awaiting a decision on their status after 30 June 2021 (which currently counts over 300,000 applications).
Academics are sounding the alarm about the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens in the UK who face falling into legal limbo on 1 July with their right to rent a home, work or continue in retirement at risk.