In the UK before Brexit

Guidance in European languages

Translations of guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme in European languages can be found on the Home Office website.

 

[UPDATE 10 December] Applications can now be made for a Frontier Worker permit

It is now possible to apply for a 'Frontier Worker permit', although Frontier Workers have until 30 June 2021 to apply.

 

[UPDATED 2 November] Most ID document scanner locations and postal route for submitting identity documents are open

Non-European family members, and Europeans who do not hold a biometric passport, cannot apply through the Android or Apple iOs phone app for Pre-Settled or Settled . They instead must submit an application online and then either attend an ID document scanner location or post their documents to the Home Office to be scanned. These services were suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 but are now open again.

Processing times for Pre-Settled and Settled status applications have been longer due to Covid-19 and are difficult to predict. Please contact either james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk in the Staff Immigration Team with any other queries about applying.

 

As a deal was agreed before the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, the rights of Europeans and their family members who were resident in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 remain the same.

Europeans and their family members who were resident in the UK before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) must apply for Pre-Settled or Settled status before the 30 June 2021 deadline. See the Home Office website for more information on continuing to live in the UK.

Pre-Settled status is granted to those who have been living in the UK for less than five years, Settled status is for those who have lived in the UK for five years or more.

When applying, the Home Office check the applicant's tax 'footprint' (i.e. the length of time they have been paying tax, they do not look at details of taxes) as the quickest way to establish is they have lived in the UK for five years or more. If an applicant has gaps in, or no, tax history because they have been a student, directly funded by a fellowship, or have been out of work they are given the opportunity to provide other documents to evidence their residence in the UK. If they cannot evidence five years residence in the UK they will be granted Pre-Settled rather than Settled status but can apply again later for Settled status.

If you wish to discuss your status or have questions about the EU Settlement Scheme, or any other issues discussed in our Brexit pages, please contact either james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk in the Staff Immigration Team.

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As a deal was agreed before the UK left the EU the rights of European nationals, and their family members who we already resident in the UK, or arrived before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, remain unchanged.

Even in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit it had been officially stated, by both the UK and the EU, that that the rights of Europeans and their family members already living in the UK, and vice versa, would be respected.

Where we refer to European or EU citizens we are including those from countries in the EEA and EFTA. Irish nationals are not affected by the changes as they have pre-existing rights in the UK which pre-date Ireland and the UK joining the EU.

 

The EU countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.

Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market which means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland together form the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Irish nationals automatically have settled rights in the UK under ‘Common Travel Area’ (CTA) arrangements which date from before Ireland and the UK joined the EU. Irish nationals do not need to apply for settled status, but they can apply if they wish.

The UK and Irish governments in May 2019 signed a Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming their joint commitment to the CTA. More information is provided in UK government guidance on rights under the CTA.

Non-European family members of European nationals resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, will need to apply for and be issued a 'Family Permit' before travelling to the UK.

Before the UK left the EU it was possible in some cases for non-European family members to be issued a 'Family Permit' as they entered the UK with their European family member, but now a Family Permit must always be obtained before travel to the UK.

There are currently two different types of Family Permit which non-Europeans can apply for:

  • EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit - where applications are made under the new EU Settlement Scheme rules. The European family member must come to the UK first and obtains Pre-Settled status, and then the non-European family member applies (from outside the UK) quoting the reference number from their partner’s Pre-Settled status (to show they were in the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020) with evidence of their relationship.
  • EU Family Permit - where applications can still be made under the old EU rules if the European family member is a 'qualified person' in the UK. The European family member does not have to come to the UK first as the non-European partner can apply (again from outside the UK) stating that they will be coming to the UK together. As this is under the old rules, however, they will need to provide evidence that the European will be working, self-employed, a student with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI), or a self-sufficient person with CSI, in the UK in addition to evidence of their relationship. EU Family Permits will no longer be valid, and applications for them will no longer be accepted, after 30 June 2021.

Once the non-European family member has come to the UK they can present their 'Family Permit' to evidence their right to work, right to rent, and to be able to open a bank account. They must then apply for Pre Settled status before 30 June 2021.

Home Office guidance on applications for both types of 'Family Permit' is found on their pages about joining your European family member in the UK. The Staff Immigration Team can help with queries about applying for a 'Family Permit', and which type may be more appropriate to your circumstances. Please contact either: james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk

While the deadline to apply for Pre-Settled or Settled status is 30 June 2021 we would recommend applying as soon as possible. Applicants who have been resident in the UK for less than five years when they apply will be granted Pre-Settled status, those who can show they have been resident in the UK for five years or more should be granted Settled status.

Close family members (children, spouses and partners) of Europeans should still be able to join them in the UK, or travel to the UK with them, after 31 December 2020 as long as the relationship was formed before 31 December 2020. We would recommend that Europeans seeking to have family members join them in the UK should apply for Pre-Settled or Settled status as soon as possible.

If you already hold a Permanent Residence card you can apply to swap this for Settled status.

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The Covid-19 pandemic, has resulted in many European staff working remotely outside the UK, and they should be aware of the following:

Settled status

If you have already been granted Settled status, you can remain outside the UK for up to 5 years without affecting your status. Returning to the UK, even for one day, during a five year period of absence will mean that you won’t lose your settled status and it will reset the clock for another 5 years.

Pre-Settled status

If you hold Pre-Settled status, you can remain outside the UK for up to 2 years without your Pre-Settled status being cancelled BUT if your absence outside the UK is more than 6 months in any 12 month period (or 12 months for an 'important reason', such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training or an overseas work posting) it will break your continuity of residence. While you could remain in the UK for the five years, a long absence might mean that you do not qualify for Settled status at the end of that time. You might then have to apply for a UK work visa (at significant expense) instead. If you have had a significant absence it may be worthwhile considering applying for Pre-Settled again when you return to the UK before the 30 June 2021 deadline to apply.

If you have not yet applied

If you were previously living in the UK but have not yet obtained Pre-Settled status and:

  • returned before 1 January 2021 following an absence from the UK, you should apply for Pre-Settled status as soon as possible, and before the 30 June 2021 deadline, at the latest.
  • returned after 1 January 2021 following an absence from the UK, you will only continue to have a ‘right of residence’ and be able to apply for a Pre-Settled status when you return if your absences have not exceeded 6 months (or 12 months for an 'important' reason such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training or an overseas work posting).

As this is complicated, the following examples may help.

Example 1: An EU/EEA employee has been resident in the UK for two years. She leaves the UK on 15 March 2020. On 15 December 2020 she returned to the UK. She must apply for Pre-Settled status before 1 July 2021.
Example 2: An EU/EEA employee has been resident in the UK for two years. He leaves the UK on 15 March 2020. On 1 March 2021 he returns to the UK. He is only entitled to enter if his absence from 15 March 2020 to 31 December 2020 (the end of the transition period) was for an ‘important reason’ and he must apply for Pre-Settled status by 14 March 2021, within 12 months of his departure from the UK.

Example 3: An EU/EEA employee has been resident in the UK for two years. She leaves the UK on 15 March 2020. On 15 December 2020 she applied from outside the UK for Pre-Settled status. Her absences over the period 15 March 2020 to 15 December 2020 exceed 6 months. She is only eligible for Pre-Settled if she has been absent from the UK for an ‘important reason’. If the absence was not for an ‘important reason’, she could have returned to the UK before 1 January 2021 and applied for a Pre-Settled on the basis of being resident in the UK before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020).

 

It may be possible in some circumstances to submit a Pre-Settled application from outside the UK.

Absences due to Covid-19

Home Office guidance published in December 2020 states that periods outside the UK when you were ill with Covid-19, were self-isolating, or could not return to the UK due to travel restrictions, would be counted as an 'important reason' which would not break your continuous residence if you were outside the UK for up to 12 months. You would need to retain evidence of your illness, required period of self-isolation, or that travel to the UK was not possible to submit when applying for Settled status to explain that this longer absence was for an 'important reason'.

If it was possible to return to the UK, but you chose not to, this would not count as an absence for an 'important reason' and would break you continous residence if you were outside the UK for more than 6 months in any rolling 12 month period.

 

This is general guidance only and cannot cover every situation. If you have any concerns as to your status in the UK now or after the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), or your eligibility for Pre-settled or Settled status, please contact either james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk in the Staff Immigration Team or obtain legal advice, to ensure the duration of absences outside UK will not affect your continued rights to stay in the UK without having to obtain a UK work visa.

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The EU Settlement Scheme opened fully on 30 March 2019. There is no application fee but non-European family members may have to pay a fee when booking an appointment to submit their biometric information (have their fingerprints and photograph taken) as part of their application.

Applications are made online and the simplest way to apply is through the Android or Apple iPhone app which scans the applicant’s passport. As no data is stored in the app applicants can borrow a friend or family member’s phone if theirs cannot run the application app.

The Home Office's Using the 'EU Exit: ID Document Check' app page provides information about using the Android and new iPhone apps, including the required phone specifications.

Non-European family members, and Europeans who do not have a biometric passport will not be able to apply through the phone app and will instead need to submit an application online and then either post their ID documents to the Home Office or attend an ID Document Scanning Location where they can have their passport scanned. ID Document Scanning is available in the Oxford Register Office but the Home Office website also provides a facility to enter your postcode to find your nearest ID Document scanning location.

 

Those using the ‘ID Document Scanner Locations’ must not start their application before attending their appointment.

 

 

More information can be found in Home Office guidance on applying for Pre-Settled or Settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme, including for those applying to swap Permanent Residence they already hold.

A video guide to the EU Settlement Scheme is provided by Smith Stone Walters, a UK immigration solicitors firm.

A detailed video walkthrough which steps through the application process is provided by freemovement.org.

Processing times

The Home Office provide information on processing times for applications made through the EU Settlement Scheme, which states that most applications for European nationals take around 5 working days, but applications for non-European family members, or where more documents are requested can take longer. Processing times have been slower and less predictable this year due to Covid-19.

If you have queries or problems

If you have any queries about applying through the EU Settlement Scheme, the Staff Immigration Team are happy to help; please contact either james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk

If you encounter technical or other problems with an application you can contact the Home Office EU Settlement Resolution Centre:

If you have contacted the EU Settlement Resolution Centre but are still encountering problems or delays with your application, the Staff Immigration Team will do all they can to assist; please contact either: james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk

Updating the Home Office after you have Pre-Settled or Settled status

Home Office guidance states that those who have been granted Pre-Settled or Settled status must then keep their details updated so that they can view and prove their rights. The online update service must be used to report changes to the following details:

  • mobile phone number
  • email address
  • name
  • identity document
  • UK address

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Applications can now be made for a Frontier Worker permit

It is now possible to apply for a 'Frontier Worker permit', although Frontier Workers have until 30 June 2021 to apply.

 

European citizens who live outside the UK but travel back and forth to work in the UK are 'Frontier Workers’ if they:

  • are not primarily resident in the UK (they spend less than 180 days in the UK in any 12 month period and return to their home outside the UK at least twice every 12 months)
  • worked (as an employee or self-employed) in the UK at least once in the 12 months prior to 11pm on 31 December 2020 and will continue to work in the UK
  • have come to the UK to work at least once every 12 months since then (or meet requirements to retain their status while temporarily unable to work due to illness, an accident, or involuntary unemployment)
  • carry out 'genuine and effective' work in the UK (they are not just in the UK to attend interviews, meetings or briefings, for example)

Those who have been working in this way will be able to continue to do from 1 January 2021 onwards, and can still enter the UK using only their passport, but will need to apply for a 'Frontier Worker permit' by 30 June 2021. Full details of the new 'Frontier Worker permit' requirements and application process are found on the Home Office website, but some points to note are:

  • there is no application fee
  • applicants do not have to pay the Immigration Health (NHS) Surcharge
  • it will be possible to apply from within or outside the UK
  • the permit will be valid for five years, unless they are temporarily unable to work in which case it will be valid for two years
  • it will be possible to apply to extend as long as you are still travelling back and forth to work in the UK in the same way

If applicants have been in the UK too long, or have not returned to work in the UK enough, due to Covid-19 they may still be able to apply if they can provide evidence of periods of illness or self-isolation, travel restrictions or cancellations, or that they were instructed to work from home temporarily and not come to the UK, for example. The Staff Immigration Team can help with queries about the requirements and application process; please contact either james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk or tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk.

 

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Those who have held Settled Status for 12 months should be able to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen, but if they are married to, or the civil partner of a British citizen they are exempt from this 12 month waiting time and can apply for citizenship as soon as they have Settled status.

When applying for British citizenship Europeans will have to evidence that they have been a ‘qualified person’ (a worker, self-employed, a student with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, or self-sufficient with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance) under the previous rules for Europeans, or they have been the family member of a European who has been a 'qualified person', during the five year qualifying period for citizenship.

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German citizens may be aware that they are permitted to obtain the citizenship of an EU country and retain their German citizenship, but as the UK has now left it is no longer an EU country.

The ‘Brexit transition act’ which was approved by the German cabinet on 5 September 2019 includes a provision to help Germans applying for British citizenship, and UK nationals applying for German citizenship. This provision states that Germans who applied for British citizenship, and vice versa, before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 will be allowed to retain their own citizenship, even if their application is decided after the end of the transition period.

Information on the 'Brexit transition act' is available in German with an option to view the page in other languages including English.

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Who to contact 


James Baker
Head of Staff Immigration 

tel: 01865 289908
e-mail: james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk 

 

Tim Currie
Staff Immigration Officer

tel: 01865 289903
e-mail: tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk