London is Open European languages

EU Londoners Hub

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been clear that EU citizens living in London belong and are welcome in our great city.

To make sure EU citizens and their families have all the information they need about living in London after Brexit we have created this hub. We have launched a few resource sections to give you clear and impartial information and, if required, guide you to further support and advice.

Brexit: what this means for EU Londoners

The UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) in June 2016. Below we have provided answers to some of the questions you may have about this decision and how Brexit impacts you.

Where there are explanations of terms and phrases used on this page, you will find a pink icon next to the word. You can also read these explanations on our glossary page.

What is Brexit?

Brexit is the popular term for the process of the UK leaving the EU, as a result of the referendum held on 23 June 2016. 

In March 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May gave official notice to the EU of the UK’s intention to leave the EU - referred to as the Article 50 notice. This was the start of a two-year negotiation process to agree the terms under which the UK would leave, and what its future relationship with the EU would be. 

The UK has been a member of the EU since 1973. This means that many structures, arrangements and agreements in place as part of the UK’s membership of the EU become redundant when the UK leaves the EU. New structures, arrangement and agreements need to replace these, which will come under UK law, not EU law.

What is the impact of Brexit on EU Londoners?

Londoners, from whatever background or nationality, are resilient and resourceful, able to adapt to change and welcome new opportunities. But not all change is easy and desired, or even in our control. Whatever your thoughts on Brexit, it has a significant impact on everyone’s lives. 

This will be true of those who hold passports of the other 27 European Union (EU) countries, as well as citizens of non-EU countries like Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland (also known as EEA countries) and Switzerland, who settled here under Freedom of Movement rights. Europeans resident in the United Kingdom (UK) under Freedom of Movement will see their residence status change when the UK leaves the EU. The UK Government has agreed with the EU a new status for these residents, to allow them to continue living and working in the country. This new residence status is called Settled Status. EU27 citizens resident in the UK will need to apply for this through a process managed by the Home Office of the UK Government.

The Mayor of London has no legislative powers over this process as it is within the remit of the UK's national government, however he wants to ensure that Londoners from the EU, EEA and Switzerland, as well as third country nationals reliant on the rights of EU relatives are able to remain part of and make a full contribution to our community. 

These guidance pages are intended to give you access to clear and impartial information and, if required, guide you to sources for further support and advice. The pages do not provide legal advice and the GLA is unable to do so.

What will be the future relationship between the EU and the UK?

Much of this has yet to be agreed and several scenarios have been discussed widely in the media, including the prospect of leaving the EU with no agreement, or ‘no deal’. This would have a serious impact on organisations, businesses and individuals who rely on EU regulations and arrangements agreed under EU treaties. We have set out in a section below what may be different in case of no-deal.

However, the UK and the EU have stated that the protection of the current status and the right to stay and to work of EU27 citizens in the UK (and UK citizens in the rest of the EU) is a priority, whatever happens.

In their Statement of Intent issued on the 21 June 2018, the UK Government states: 

"Securing the rights of citizens has always been our priority in negotiations with the European Union (EU). We have delivered on this commitment and reached an agreement with the EU guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and of UK nationals living in the EU. EU citizens living in the UK, along with their family members, will be able to stay and continue their lives, with the same access to work, study, benefits and public services that they enjoy now. Existing close family members living overseas will be able to join them here in future."

As part of the UK leaving the EU, the UK Government has negotiated a deal which sets out the terms of the UK's withdrawal. This is called the Withdrawal Agreement and was finalised between the EU and the UK Government in November 2018. Within this agreement are details on how those who have benefited from free movement within the EU, both EU27 nationals resident in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU27 countries, will be protected when the UK leaves. However, the Withdrawal Agreement must be approved by the UK Parliament and it was rejected by the House of Commons in a vote on 15 January 2019. There were various elements MPs on both sides of the House did not agree with, including arrangements regarding the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

The UK government will now try and agree amendments with the EU and the UK Parliament, to ensure there is an agreement in place on 29 March 2019. Various MPs in the House of Commons are putting forward their own amendments before another vote in the House of Commons in February. 

What does this mean for EU citizens in London?

This means that you will be able to stay in London and you will be able to live your life pretty much as you do now when the UK leaves the EU. Your current residence status will be protected, you will be able to work as now and access services and healthcare. However, you will have to apply for a new residence status, which confirms that you live in the UK and have the right to do so. This is called Settled Status or pre-Settled Status.

What does this mean for EEA citizens from Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, or Switzerland?

The rights of citizens from other EEA countries, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, as well as those from Switzerland, have now been agreed in separate agreements between the UK Government and the governments of these countries.

Citizens of the EEA countries and Switzerland will have the same rights as citizens of the EU27 countries and can apply for Settled Status and pre-Settled Status on 30 March 2019.

What are Settled Status and pre-Settled Status?

EU regulations for Freedom of Movement will no longer apply to the UK after December 2020, so the UK Government is making it compulsory for EU citizens, along with their family members, who wish to remain legally in the UK after 31 December 2020, to apply for a new residence status. This is called Settled Status and it grants Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to successful applicants.

The UK Government and the Home Office have stated that they expect that the vast majority of applicants will be successful, with only very few exceptions related to convictions for serious crimes. You will have to provide evidence that you have lived in the UK for five consecutive years (continuous residence) to be eligible for Settled Status when you apply. If you can’t, but have entered the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you may be granted pre-Settled Status. Pre-Settled Status can be changed to Settled Status once you have five years of continuous residence in the UK.

There are some exceptions, for instance for people who hold Permanent Residence (PR) or who Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is explained in the section 'What if I already have Permanent Residence or Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter status?' below.

The timelines will be different in a 'no deal' scenario, a separate section details these differences. The remaining guidance uses the timelines proposed in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Why would you need to apply for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status?

Settled Status guarantees your right to reside in the UK after 30 June 2021, which is the end of the six month grace period after the 31 December 2020 deadline for applications to be submitted. If you are an EU citizen and you want to continue to live and work in the UK, to have the same access to benefits, public services and healthcare, the right to study and rent accommodation after 31 December 2020, you will need this new status.

If you are a family member whose status in the UK is reliant on the free movement rights of an EU citizen, or an EEA citizen from Norway, Liechtenstein, or a citizen of Iceland or Switzerland this will also apply to you and you must apply, even if you yourself are not a citizen of any of these countries.

Who needs to apply?

If you and your family members are citizens from any of the 27 EU states (EU27) and live in the UK, you will all have to apply. This includes Third Country Nationals - whose immigration status is dependent on an EU27 family member.

This does not apply to Irish citizens, or EU citizens who have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (ILE), but they may still want to apply. People with a valid Permanent Residence (PR) document will need to exchange this for Settled Status as their document will become invalid after 31 December 2020. You can find further information under the Eligibility section.

The Home Office has stated that if you hold British nationality in addition to that of a EU27 country, which is known as Dual Nationality, you will not be able to apply for Settled Status, although certain rights protected under the Withdrawal Agreement may still apply to you. Close family members are able to join you in the UK and family members of so-called Lounes dual nationals can apply under the settlement scheme.

What are your rights as a settled EU citizen after Brexit?

With Settled Status you will broadly keep the same rights as now. You will be able to stay in the UK as long as you like. You will be able to work in the UK, use the NHS, study and have access to public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you are eligible for these. Existing close family members living outside the UK will be able to join you here in the future in the same way they can now, but a future spouse may not be able to join you, for instance. They will have to enter under the UK immigration rules for family members after 31 December 2020.

Some rights, such as the right to vote and stand as a candidate in local and regional elections are still to be confirmed. Future spouses or family members, with the exception of children born to you or adopted by you, will be subject to future UK immigration law. 

With Settled Status you can also leave the UK for extended periods of time, but if you are absent for five years or more, you will lose your status and can only return as a new immigrant subject to any new immigration laws.

Settled Status also allows you to apply for British Citizenship, provided you meet the criteria for this. The route to do this through Permanent Residence is also still open during the Transition Period (also known as implementation period).

What if there is no deal when the UK leaves the EU?

There is a possibility that the UK will leave the EU without a deal agreed. The UK Government has set out in a policy paper what will happen to EU citizens if there is no deal agreed between the EU and UK.

The paper states that if there is no deal on 29 March 2019, the UK Government will still implement the EU Settled Status scheme and adopt a similar approach to that set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. As EU27 citizens, you and your family will continue to be required to apply under the scheme to remain in the UK.

However, there will be some significant differences. As there would be no implementation period, the guarantee would only apply to EU27 citizens resident in the UK by 29 March 2019. You will have until 31 December 2020 to apply, so there is no six months grace period. The UK Government would intend to have their new UK immigration system take effect from 1 January 2021.

If you disagree with the decision, you can still request an administrative review but there will be no right to appeal the decision. Also, in case of crimes committed after 29 March 2019, the UK deportation threshold will apply.

Close family members of those with Settled Status, such as children, spouses, partners and grandparents, where the relationship existed before 29 March 2019, can join you by 29 March 2022. Future spouses and partners, where the relationship was formed after 29 March 2019, can join you by 31 December 2020, after which UK immigration rules would apply. 

The above also applies to citizens of EEA countries and Switzerland.

Settled Status: application process

The application process will open from 30 March 2019 until the end of the grace period (six months after 31 December 2020), which is 30 June 2021 and is now free of charge. A public trial of the scheme commenced on 21 January 2019 so resident EU citizens with a valid EU passport and non-EU citizen family members of an EU citizen who have a biometric residence card could apply earlier than this as part of the trial phase.

Applications received after 30 June 2021 may still be considered subject to your specific circumstances if, for instance, you are joining a family member with Settled or pre-Settled Status.

The following guidance will help you find out about your status and what you and your family members will need to complete an application.

Can I apply for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status?

If you have been continuously resident for five years or more you can apply for Settled Status. 'Continuous' means that you must not have left the UK for more than six months in any calendar year during the five-year period, although longer absences are permitted under some limited circumstances.

In the application process you will be asked to confirm your identity, provide evidence of the length of your stay in the UK and be asked to declare any serious criminal convictions.

If you have lived in the UK for less than five years by the end of December 2020, you will be able to apply for pre-Settled Status. Once you reach five years of continuous residence, you will then be able to apply for Settled Status.

What if I already have Permanent Residence or Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter status?

Settled Status is in effect Indefinite Leave to Remain. People who have Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK already have the right to remain in the UK. However, you might wish to apply for Settled Status to obtain the additional rights agreed under the Withdrawal Agreement, such as the right to a five-year absence and the right to be joined by eligible family members. It is also easier to demonstrate your right of residence with Settled Status than with ILR.

People who hold a valid Permanent Residence document will have to exchange this for Settled Status, as the Permanent Residence status will become invalid on 31 December 2020. The document however may still be relevant, as evidence of the nationality of British born children, for instance, so needs to be retained by you. During the application process you can indicate whether you have Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence.

If you held ILR and cannot provide proof of this, for instance you have lost your documents or they have been destroyed for some reason, and you arrived in the UK before 31 December 1988, you may also be able to apply under the Windrush Scheme.

You will need to declare that you have not been absent from the UK for any periods of more than two years (Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter) or five years (Permanent Residence). However, you will not need to provide evidence of the length of your stay in the UK.

If you are uncertain about your rights, always seek independent legal advice. Resources available to you in London can be found on our support services page.

Does this also apply to Irish citizens?

Irish citizens have a right of residence in the UK that is not reliant on the UK’s membership of the EU and are considered ‘settled’ from the moment they took residence in the UK. They will therefore not be required to apply for the new status under the scheme, although they are not excluded from doing so if they so wish. Family members of Irish citizens who are EU citizens or non-EEA nationals will need to apply for Settled Status.

Eligible family members of Irish Citizens living in the UK from non-EU countries will be able to obtain Settled Status under the scheme without the Irish citizen doing so.

Do children need to apply?

All family members will need to apply individually, although parents or guardians will need to complete the applications on behalf of children under the age of 18 in their care. Children under the age of 21 of parents with Settled Status, will be eligible for Settled Status upon application, even if they have lived in the UK for less than five years. A full application is required, but if parents have proof of their continuous residence, it will be presumed that dependent children will have this too. This applies also to children who arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020.

Applications for looked after children will be submitted by the authorities in whose care they are placed.

Children born in the UK with one parent who is already a UK citizen, or has Permanent Residence or Settled Status when they were born, are British citizens and do not need to naturalise or register. Some exceptions may apply to this. You can find out more information about whether a child might already be British.

For children who have been adopted, a legal adoption document that is recognised in the UK will have to be provided. Children born or adopted after 31 December 2020 will also be protected

Read examples of how Settled Status and pre-Settled Status applies to different families.

What about people who need more help?

The Home Office is aware that there are many reasons why people will not have easy access to information, or are not able to understand or navigate through the system without assistance. They may not have access to computers or know how to use one, they may have a limited understanding of the English language, they may have a disability or other health issues that prevent them from engaging with the application process easily or without support. For people who are unable to access online services, or find this difficult, an Assisted Digital service will be offered. Assisted digital support can include telephone support, face-to-face support at selected libraries or at home for anyone unable to access either of these services.

As part of the public test phase, the Home Office have a dedicated help line and other services. Any questions about an application made during the pilot, the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre can be contacted via 0300 123 7379 (inside the UK) or +44 (0) 203 080 0010 (outside the UK). Details of charges can be found at www.gov.uk/call-charges. You can also ask a question using the online submissions form eu-settled-status-enquiries.service.gov.uk.

We have identified independent support and advice services in London that may be able to assist, as well as events happening in London that you might find useful.

What if you have Dual Citizenship?

For EU27 nationals who also have a British passport nothing will change. As you are a British National, you will continue to be able to access the same rights as now without the need to apply for Settled Status. You may still retain the rights agreed in the draft Withdrawal Agreement although the UK Government has not yet provided details of how dual citizens will prove their entitlement. See the 'Can I apply for British Citizenship' section for more details.

Can I apply for British Citizenship?

If you hold a valid Permanent Residence (PR) document or have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you may also be able to apply for British Citizenship. You can also do this once you have been granted Settled Status. However, not all EU27 nations allow their citizens to hold a passport of another nation, or only under specific circumstances, so you may have to lose your current nationality. 

If you are eligible for British Citizenship and want to apply for this, it may be good to check first with your embassy whether you can retain the passport of your country of birth and under what conditions. Find out how to apply for British Citizenship and find contact details of the EU27 embassies in London.

What about non-EU family members and dependants?

Proof of your relationship to your EU citizen family member (for example, a birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate) can be scanned and submitted through the online application form. You will also need to provide evidence of your family member’s identity and residence and your fingerprints and a photo of your face at an application centre in the UK, unless you already have a biometric residence card.

EU Citizens who are resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, can be joined by current family members, even if these are not EU citizens themselves. This is also the case for those who obtain of have obtained British citizenship in addition to the citizenship of the country of their origin. They will retain the rights that allow them to be joined automatically by a current non-EU family member after 31 December 2020. This follows the judgment in the Lounes case. UK citizens may not have this automatic right.

This does not apply to British Citizens who have obtained an EU27 passport (including Irish), to enable them to retain the right to Freedom of Movement in the EU, but still reside in the UK.  As they did not immigrate into the UK and are not considered to have exercised their treaty rights and will be treated as a British citizen for this purpose.

If you are not certain about the status of dependents and family members, you may want to ask for independent advice.

What about EU citizens temporarily living outside of the UK?

Currently you can live outside the UK for a maximum of two years, before you lose Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence. Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the EU and the UK, this will be extended to five years for Settled Status. 

If you are currently living abroad and intend to return, you may want to consider doing this before the cut-off date of 31 December 2020 to apply for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status. Please keep in mind that the date to qualify for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status is different in the event of no deal between the EU and the UK.

There may be circumstances under which you cannot return by that date, but may still be eligible to apply. There is currently no indication of a provision to apply from abroad.

What happens if an EU citizen arrives after the cut-off date? (Post Brexit immigration rules)

If you arrive after the cut-off date of 31 December 2020 your right to stay in the UK will be considered under any new immigration rules to be put in place after Brexit. So, unless anything else is agreed between the UK and EU and you are not a direct relative of an EU family member with Settled Status in the UK, you will be treated like any other national arriving here and the immigration legislation relevant at that time will apply to you. An exception to this may be people who qualify for pre-Settled Status but did not return before the date.

Nothing of what I've read so far fits with my particular family circumstances. Where can I find further information?

There are a number of other cases in which, for instance, children or carers can derive from EU citizens who reside or have resided in the UK, or where the non-EU carers of EU citizens in the UK can derive rights from those they care for. Free Movement has more information on both.

If any of this applies to you or you are in any way concerned about your rights or the rights of your family members, it will be good to ask for independent advice. We have compiled a list of accredited organisations and other resources in London that may be able to help.

How can I apply? (Mobile app, online, paper, library)

Applications can be completed online and the Home Office has released a mobile phone app to support the application process. The app is functional on smart phones with Android 6.0 or above. You will be able to scan your passport and it can read the chip with biometric data. The iPhone app will not be able to scan your passport or biometric ID, but ID document scanning services are available at a number of centres (although charges may apply). You can also send your ID documents by post.

Applications will mostly be done via the app or online. Paper applications are possible, but will be limited and there is no detailed information available at this stage about this. Paper applications will require that you send your ID card or passport by post, or you may be able to have them verified at dedicated centres.

For people who are unable to access online services, or find this difficult, an Assisted Digital service will be offered. Assisted digital support can include telephone support, face-to-face support at selected libraries or at home for anyone unable to access either of these services.

What documents and other information do I need?

You will need a valid passport or biometric national identity card. A biometric document contains a chip (like a bank card has a chip) that holds information on you.

You will need proof of residence in the UK, unless you already have a valid Permanent Residence document, or Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK. If you have paid tax through work or received benefits, you can use your National Insurance number to help confirm that you have been residing in the UK. 

If there is not enough information held on national databases, such as HMRC or DWP, you will be asked for further evidence to prove your continuous residence. This could include: 

  • P60s or P45s
  • Payslips
  • Bank statements
  • Utility bills, Council Tax bills, phone bills
  • Annual business accounts
  • Employer contracts or letters confirming employment
  • Letters, invoices or certificates from accredited educational organisations
  • Passport stamps confirming entry at the UK border
  • Airline or train tickets confirming travel into the UK 

There are currently limitations on the number of documents you can scan and upload, but applicants can submit via other methods, such as by post, should they not be able to stay within the limit. You will not need to provide evidence of your entire residence in the UK, only for the period that proves you are eligible for Settled or pre-Settled Status which generally is the most recent five years.

If you are from outside the EU, any of the other three EEA countries or Switzerland you will need to provide evidence of your relationship to a family member from the EU living in the UK.

If you are not able to provide any further information or proof of residence, the Home Office has stated it will engage with you further to help determine your residence in the UK. 

We have compiled a useful checklist of documents and information that would be good for you to keep safe for when the application process starts.

Criminality checks

You will be asked to declare any serious criminal convictions in the UK and overseas, or those of any child over the age of 10 for whom you are submitting an application for. These will be checked against the UK's crime databases. If you have only been arrested or convicted of a minor offence, you will still be eligible to apply for Settled or pre-Settled Status. Speeding fines, for instance, will not be taken into account.

Offences and convictions will be assessed on a case by case basis and it may well be a good idea to seek independent legal advice prior to making your application if you have had more than one conviction or a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. We have provided a list of independent legal advisors.

Is there a cost?

Initially the Government announced that a fee would be charged (£65 for adults and £32.50 for children under 16). However, in a statement to the House of Commons on 21 January 2019 the Prime Minister announced that this fee requirement was withdrawn and that applications are now free of charge. Those that acquired status under the pilot phase of the scheme will still have to pay but will be reimbursed. 

Costs may still be attached to document and ID checking service in dedicated centres, as well as immigration and legal advice, if your specific circumstances require this. 

Additional information

Applying from abroad

At present, applications will have to be made in the UK and will be open to people considered ‘resident’ before midnight on 31 December 2020. 

It will also include those previously resident in the UK who are outside the UK on that date but who have maintained 'continuity of residence' here. For example, those who are continuously resident in the UK but who happen to be abroad on business or holiday or living overseas temporarily on 31 December 2020 will be able to make an application when they return to the UK. 

The Home Office is currently considering ‘in country applications’, that is to say applications made from abroad, but a decision has yet to be made. This could apply, for instance, to people with Permanent Residence who have not been out of the country for more than two years.

Do I get proof of Settled Status/pre-Settled Status?

If you are granted Settled Status you will not get a document to prove this. However, if you are ever required to provide proof of your status, for example, for a new employer, landlord or other health practitioner, you can provide them with an access code and web link, so they can confirm electronically your status. They will not have access to any other information about you through this link.

Appeal and oversight

Your decision letter will set out how you can apply for a review if you are unhappy with the decision and the status you have been offered. This is called an administrative review and a request must be submitted within 28 days of the date of the decision. A fee of £80 applies, but this will be refunded if the application is successful, or if the application is rejected because it is invalid. The fee will not be refunded if the review is successful because you submitted additional information. You can request a review through an application form

The establishment of an independent authority to oversee the process has been agreed in the draft Withdrawal Agreement and during the Transition Period the European Commission continues to have oversight.

Conditions for retaining Settled Status once granted

To retain Settled Status you should not leave the UK for more than a continuous period of five years, or be convicted of a serious crime. Otherwise there are no barriers that we are aware of to retain your Settled Status and to remain in the UK as you are now.

Future rights

Much of this will depend on the final nature of the settlement between the UK and the EU and the arrangements for oversight that are agreed but your rights will become part of UK law. The Withdrawal Agreement will form the basis of any challenges and events around this are developing.

Support services for European Londoners

This hub provides independent guidance to EU citizens and citizens from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland and their families who live in London.

The aim is to help you prepare for your Settled Status application. If you require more information than what is on this page, you can search our list of support services for access to reliable, accredited and trusted sources of further support and information.

We've also provided a glossary to help explain some of the terms on this hub. This information does not amount to legal advice and should not be relied on exclusively.

You can also sign up for updates on the Home Office information site.

Resources for community organisations

The Mayor of London also recognises the work of community organisations in London, which are often uniquely placed to reach out to European Londoners. To support your work, we are developing material for groups to use in your outreach activities.

We have translated* information on Settled Status into multiple European languages. You can download and print these information leaflets to share with EU Londoners in your community. We will be adding more translated leaflets in the near future.

On 21 January 2019 the Prime Minister announced the £65 fee (£32.50 for children under 16), which EU citizens were going to have to pay to secure the right to continue living in the UK, has been scrapped. The Mayor of London welcomes this move. We are currently updating the translated resources to reflect this change.

We have also translated* the information on this page into multiple European language documents to help explain Brexit and the Settled Status process. You can download these documents from the list below. We will be adding more translated documents in the near future.

*All translated material has been done so by professional, trained and accredited translators who are also native speakers of that language. In addition, the translations have been proofread and sense checked by native speakers familiar with the evolving terminology around the issue of the UK leaving the EU and the associated implications for citizen's rights. Some of these have legal and political expertise within their countries of birth as well as the UK. 

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