Pre-Settled and Settled Status: What's the Difference?

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EU citizens who have been living in the UK will either have pre-settled or settled status, but what’s the difference? In our quick guide, we explain what pre-settled and settled status are and how it affects you.

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Why Do I Need Settlement Status?

If you’ve applied for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will have been given either pre-settled or settled status as part of the decision on your application. If you are an EU national or from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, you will have needed to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme in order to continue living legally in the UK.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme? The EU Settlement Scheme is for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who were already living in the UK before 31 December 2020. Since the UK has left the European Union, citizens from these countries no longer have the right to reside in the UK on just their passport. You will have needed to register for the scheme before 30 June 2021 in order to secure your status.

Find out more in our EU Settlement Scheme guide.

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What Is Pre-Settled Status?

Pre-settled status is granted to European nationals who have been living in the UK for less than 5 years. If your residency in the UK started before 31 December 2020 - the day before the UK officially left the European Union - then you should be eligible to apply for pre-settled status on the EU Settlement Scheme.

How To Apply for Pre-Settled Status

Applying for pre-settled status will include making an application to the EU Settlement Scheme. To apply for the scheme, you’ll need to make an application online on the UK government’s website.

To apply, you’ll need either:

  1. A valid European passport
  2. A valid biometric residence card (or permit)

You can even use an expired passport or card.

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What Qualifies You for Pre-Settled Status?

To qualify for pre-settled status, you’ll need to have started your residency before 31 December 2020. This is the date the UK officially left the EU after the two year transition period, and anyone coming to the UK afterwards would need to get a Skilled Worker visa.

You’ll be granted pre-settled status if you:

  1. Started living in the UK before 31 December 2020
  2. Have not left the UK for more than 6 months since 31 December 2020

You can’t pick which status you apply for! When you apply for pre-settled or settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme, you won’t be able to pick which status you want to apply for. The status you’ll be given will depend on the evidence you provide.

How Do I Check Pre-Settled Status?

You can check your pre-settled status on the UK government’s website so you can know exactly what your situation is in the UK. It’s also important for getting your share code to give to employers and landlords.

To check your pre-settled status, you’ll need to fill in your:

  1. Date of birth
  2. The number on your passport or biometric residence card

What is my share code? You can use this process to get your share code in order to prove your legal status in the UK to other people. You will need one share code to prove your right to work to employers, and another share code to prove your right to rent to landlords when moving home. The share code will be valid for 90 days.

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Does Pre-Settled Status Turn Into Settled Status?

After you’ve been a continuous resident of the UK for 5 years, you will be able to switch from pre-settled status to settled status. Make a note of the date that your pre-settled status expires and when you will be eligible to apply for settled status since it will not switch over automatically. You may receive a reminder from the Home Office if your status is due to expire, but this is not a guarantee.

Pre-Settled Status FAQs

How Long Can I Stay Out of the UK with Pre-Settled Status?

There’s no defined period of time you can be outside of the UK if you have pre-settled status, but you could lose your right to reside if you are outside the UK for 2 years or longer.

How Long Does Pre-Settled Status Last?

Your pre-settled status gives you 5 years from the date that you receive your status decision. This means if you have spent 2 years in the UK already, you’ll be granted another 5 years.

Can I Claim Benefits with Pre-Settled Status?

Yes, you can claim for all benefits if you have pre-settled status.

What Happens After 5 Years Pre-Settled Status?

If you have been a resident of the UK for 5 years (counted from when you started and not from when you received your pre-settled status), you will be able to apply for settled status. At the end of the 5 years with pre-settled status, your pre-settled status will expire.

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What Is Settled Status?

If you’ve been a continuous resident of the UK for 5 years or more, you will then be eligible for settled status. During those 5 years, you can only have been outside the UK for a maximum of 6 months a year. Settled status means you are able to live and work in the UK freely and legally without needing to update your status.

How Do I Apply for Settled Status?

You’ll need to apply for settled status the same way you would for pre-settled status by filling in an application for the EU Settlement Scheme.

To apply, you’ll need either:

  1. A valid European passport
  2. A valid biometric residence card (or permit)

You will also need to provide evidence that you have been living in the UK continuously for 5 years or more. This can be done by providing your National Insurance number that can validate you have been paying taxes for the past 5 years. If you have any employment gaps, you should provide evidence of this as well.

Does Settled Status Last Forever?

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Settle status means that you become a permanent resident of the UK. In other words, settled status lasts forever and does not expire, so you do not need to reapply and there is no limit on how long you can stay.

There are some circumstances where you might lose your settled status. For example, if you leave the UK for over 5 years (or 4 years in the case of Swiss citizens) or you have committed a serious crime. However, for the most part, your settled status is permanent.

Settled Status FAQs

Is Settled Status the Same as Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR)?

Yes, settled status is the same as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This means that you have the right to reside in the UK indefinitely and without restrictions.

Is Settled Status Same as Citizenship?

Although settled status is permanent and you don’t have to renew it, it is not the same as British citizenship. You do however have the same rights to healthcare, benefits, and work as a full British citizen.

Can I Apply for British Passport After Settled Status?

After you’ve been granted settled status, you will be able to apply for British citizenship and a British passport after 12 months of settled status.

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