Following the UK's departure from the European Union, European free movement no longer applies in the UK and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members are now subject to the same immigration laws and entry requirements as non-EEA nationals.
EEA nationals and their family members who were living in the UK by 11pm on 31 December 2020 were required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline of 30 June 2021 in order to obtain settled or pre-settled status. Some people who have applied in time may still be waiting for a decision. For those that have not applied, the Home Office will accept a late application if the person can show that they have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. However, a person who did not apply by 30 June 2021 will not have lawful status in the UK and may lose access to some of their entitlements, even if a late application is accepted.
For information about how to apply, see the Home Office EU Settlement Scheme applicant information. The Home Office Caseworker Guidance contains detailed information about specific groups, such as adults with care needs and children in care, and the grounds for making a late application.
EEA nationals and their family members, including children, who were living in the UK by 11pm on 31 December 2020 will need to apply. Non-EEA family members, non-EEA nationals with a derivative right to reside, and anyone who was granted a permanent residence card must also apply.
A person does not need to apply if they already hold indefinite leave to remain or Irish citizenship, but they can apply if they wish to.
The application will need to be made online, unless the person is required to apply using a paper form. They will need to provide evidence of their identity and residence in the UK. The Home Office caseworker guidance provides specific information about applications made by children in care, care leavers, and adults who lack capacity or have care needs.
For late applications made after the deadline of 30 June 2021, the Home Office will consider whether the person has reasonable grounds for missing the deadline on a case by case basis. The Home Office caseworker guidance lists several circumstances when a late application ‘will normally’ be accepted and what evidence the person must submit to demonstrate that they have a reasonable ground for applying after the deadline.
If a person has been issued with a notice by the Home Office advising them to apply within 28 days then they must take action and seek advice about making an application as soon as possible.
The Home Office offers some assistance for people who have difficulties using technology or who need extra help to apply. A person may need to get legal advice from an immigration adviser, particularly if their matter is complex. See our information for help finding an immigration adviser and the list of organisations that have been funded by the Home Office to help people to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
The EU Settlement Scheme is open to Zambrano carers (non-EEA nationals who are the primary carer of a British citizen, usually a child and had a derivative right to reside under European law). However, the Home Office has a policy that prevented Zambrano carers from being able to obtain pre-settled or settled status if they have already obtained a different form of leave to remain under the Immigration Rules, such as under Appendix FM as the sole carer of a British child.
A recent court decision has found this Home Office policy to be unlawful. The Home Office is currently in the process of appealing this decision so it is not clear what the final outcome will be, but people who are affected may need to take action now and are able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme even though the deadline has passed. For some Zambrano carers there will be clear advantages if they are able to obtain status under the EU Settlement Scheme but for others there could be disadvantages. The position is therefore complex and any individual who may be affected should seek legal advice about how to proceed. This includes anyone who has previously applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and has been refused or has previously been advised that they cannot apply because they already have leave to remain. For more information, see Hackney Migrant Centre's guidance note.
Find out about the residence rights of EEA nationals and their family members
Find out when EEA nationals and their family members will be eligible to claim benefits
Read our factsheet for information about the new immigration requirements for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, and how these affect eligibility for benefits, housing assistance, and social services' support.