This page was published in 2019 and may contain out of date information.
Know your rights to stay in Britain
If you are an EU citizen living in Britain, Brexit will affect your rights. This means you will need to apply for what the Government calls ‘settled status’ in Britain.
What is settled status?
Settled status is a special immigration category for EU nationals who have made Britain their home. Once you have settled status you can continue to live in Britain indefinitely. You will also be able to go to school and university, get a job and use the NHS and other services, just as you can do now.
Do I need to apply?
All EU nationals need to apply for settled status. As a child, your parents can apply for you, or you can apply on your own – it’s up to you. However, there is generally less paperwork if you apply with your parents. The good news is that the application is free and the application process is easier than for other types of immigration status.
How long do I have to apply?
You have until December 2020 to apply, and this will be extended if Britain agrees an exit deal with the EU.
What do you need to do to apply?
You can apply online or using your phone. If you have an android phone this makes it easier to upload documents. Just search for ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ on gov.uk and follow the links.
What do I need to apply?
To apply you will need to show…
Who you are (your identity). For this you will ideally need a passport, ID card or residence card from any EU country. If you don’t have any of these call the Home Office team to discuss other forms of proof (for example, birth certificates) on 0300 123 7379.
That you have been living in Britain. There are several ways of showing this, but the easiest is to get a letter from your school or college. If you are applying with your parents, then they will need to prove their residency, but you won’t have to.
How long do I have to have lived in Britain?
To get settled status you have to have lived in Britain for five years. If you have lived here for less than five years you can still apply for settled status and you will get ‘pre-settled status’ which gives you the same rights. If you stay living in Britain you will get settled status once you’ve lived here for five years.
If you arrive in Britain after Brexit (currently due to be 31st January 2020) the arrangements will depend on whether we leave with a deal. Either way, there are processes in place to enable you to stay and the changes won’t come into effect under January 2021.
What if I’m a child in care?
If you are in care, or a care leaver, the local authority should help you apply. We’ve written to all councils asking them to make sure this is done for you, and so have the Government. The local authority can write a letter to the Government to prove you have been resident in Britain.
What if I’m in custody?
Time in custody does not count towards settled status. But:
- If you’ve lived in Britain for five years before going into custody you can still get settled status
- Otherwise you can apply for ‘pre-settled status’ when you leave custody, as long as you leave custody before December 2020 and as long as Britain leaves with a deal. If we leave without a deal, things are a little more complicated, but there are arrangements in place.
What about becoming a British citizen?
For information about citizenship, including whether you are a British citizen or are eligible to apply, please see this information sheet. If eligible, we would recommend applying for settled status as well as citizenship.
Need more information
You can call the Home Office’s special advice line on 0300 123 7379
There are several places where you can get independent advice and support:
- The Children’s Legal Centre has more detailed advice. They can also assist with individual and complex cases. You can contact them at [email protected]
- The Children’s Society run special services for EU national children, contact them on 0191 221 0836 or at [email protected]
- If you are in care or a care leaver you can contact your local authority or our ‘Help at Hand’ service on 0800 528 0731 or at [email protected]
- If you want local advice, you or your family may want to approach the citizens advice bureau. Many have special arrangements for helping EU nationals. Find your local branch.
- There are over 50 charities and voluntary sector groups offering advice and support.