Settled Status Mythbuster

What's true and what's a myth?

There are many Brexit myths and misconceptions that we’ve tried to clear up in our mythbuster:

MYTH: “I have been here for over 20 years and everyone says I am going to be OK. The new Settlement Scheme is only for people who have arrived recently.”

You must apply, no matter how long you have lived in the UK, unless you have proof that you have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and that this is still valid.

If you have ILR but do not have a valid document confirming it, you may wish to apply for an up to date biometric residence permit confirming your ILR using form NTL (No Time Limit).

However, you might also 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 from the UK without losing your settled status and the right to be joined by eligible family members. Also, if you apply, you will have up to date proof of your residence rights and it may be useful given what happened to the “Windrush generation”.

To apply under the EU Settlement Scheme you need

  • a valid passport/ID and
  • if possible, your National Insurance number. This is the main method of assessment for the Home Office to determine if you have been a resident in the UK, and therefore eligible to apply for pre-Settled or Settled Status

If you think that you may not have HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) or DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) online records, make sure you find and keep documents that can prove your entry and residence in the UK. Take a look at this handy checklist.

MYTH: "I am married to a British citizen; I don’t need to apply”

Even if you are married to a British citizen, you still have to apply for Settled Status (or pre-Settled Status) and prove that you were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, unless you have proof that you have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

MYTH: “My children were born in UK so they are British citizens by birth”

Not always.

If your child was born in the UK, but at the time of the birth neither parent was a British citizen or settled, then s/he was not born British.

However, children born in the UK with at least one parent who is already a UK citizen or has Permanent Residence (PR) or Settled Status when they were born, are British citizens automatically 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.

If you are unsure, it may be good to seek advice from an OISC accredited immigration adviser before proceeding with your application.

MYTH: “I have a valid Permanent Residence (PR) document so I don’t have to apply for Settled Status”

To continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal) you must apply for Settled Status.

You do not need to provide evidence of the length of your residence in the UK, since this was also a condition for your PR status, however, you may still be asked for this during the application process.

Alternatively, you could consider applying for citizenship before 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal), if you wish to do so and meet all the requirements. If you become British before the end of the transitional period, you will not need to apply under the Settled Status scheme.

MYTH: “If I apply and am granted pre-Settled Status this will be transformed to Settled Status automatically when I complete my five years' residence”

No, it will not.

You have to apply for Settled Status after you complete five years residence in the UK.

For example, if you applied under the Settlement Scheme after two years of living in the UK and were granted pre-Settled Status, you will have to apply again once you have reached five years of continuous residence (three years later) in order to receive Settled Status.

MYTH: “People who get pre-Settled Status will have less rights than people with Settled Status”

There is some truth in this, but it will not affect your right to stay and work or study in the UK. Fees for study will also remain the same, however, there may be a limit on your ability to apply for a student loan.

Those granted pre-Settled Status still need to demonstrate they are exercising treaty rights to be entitled to some benefits. Read more about this here.

MYTH: “As an EU citizen, I can face removal after the UK leaves the EU”

You have until 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 in a No Deal scenario) to apply for Settled or pre-Settled Status and nothing should change for you until then.

However, it is important for all EU citizens who do not have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or are not Irish citizens, to apply for Settled Status - failing to do so will leave you undocumented after that date and will affect your rights to rent, to employment, to benefits and healthcare.

Ultimately this can lead to you losing your right to stay in the UK.

MYTH: “I may have difficulty renting accommodation in the UK after the UK leaves the EU”

Until 1 January 2021, you will continue to be able to prove your right to rent in the UK as you do now, for example by showing your passport or national identity card.

Therefore, there will be no change to the way EU, EEA and Swiss citizens prove their right to rent until 1 January 2021. This remains the same if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal.

After this date, you may be asked to provide evidence of your right to rent in the UK by landlords.

People who have obtained Settled Status will not have a physical document to prove their right to reside, but rather a digital record for which you can obtain a link. The landlord can then check and confirm your status online.

MYTH: “My employer can end my employment contract after the UK leaves the EU”

Provided you apply for and obtain Settled Status or pre-Settled Status, your employment rights will not be affected and will be protected by the same laws as before, which are UK laws.

You have until 30 June 2021 to apply. In the case of a No Deal, you have until 31 December 2020 to apply, so there is no six-month grace period.

MYTH: “I won’t be able to stay if I make less than £30,000 per year”

There is no lower limit on income for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status applicants.

In fact you will not be asked to declare your income or confirm you are in employment. Therefore, you can apply even if you are unemployed and/or receiving benefits.

The £30,000 income requirement currently exists for certain migrants under the UK immigration rules. It has also been proposed as part of the immigration legislation for new immigrants after the UK has left the EU, but this is only a proposal and is not yet debated or approved by Parliament.

MYTH: “I’ll have to declare parking tickets as part of the criminality check”

No, simple traffic violations do not need to be declared.

You also do not need to declare ‘spent convictions’, warnings (‘cautions’) and alternatives to prosecution, for example speeding fines.

However, you will need to declare any serious convictions, which usually means convictions with a custodial (prison) sentence of 12 months or more. But if you have had any convictions, even suspended ones, it will be good to take advice from a competent legal professional before completing your applications.

Failure to declare may also cause problems later, if and when you want to apply for British Citizenship.

Remember that you’ll still be eligible for Settled or pre-Settled Status if you’ve only been convicted of a minor crime.

If you have other convictions, this will be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you’ve been to prison, you usually need five years’ continuous residence from the day you were released to be considered for Settled Status.

MYTH: “Once I have my Settled Status I can leave the UK and return whenever I want”

Settled Status is technically a form of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The normal length of period you can leave the UK with ILR is two years, but if you get ILR under the EU Settlement Scheme you will only lose your status if you are absent from the UK for a period of five consecutive years.

MYTH: “I can’t apply for the Settlement Scheme because I don’t have an Android phone”

The application for Settled Status is online and can be done from any device (eg laptop or phone). All applications go through three steps:

  • identity checking
  • residence checking 
  • criminality checking

Identity checking
This is easily done using the EU Exit: ID Document Check app which is currently only available for Android phones with NFC technology.

The app scans your passport or biometric ID document and verifies your identity by taking a photo of your face. This makes the process easier for you, but the scanning of documents and identity verification can also be done in one of over 50 dedicated centres. There is likely to be a charge for this and most require you to make an appointment.

You can also post your documents to the Home Office for verification and Digital Assist services can help you with the online aspect of the application process.

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