UK Residence Cards for EU Nationals After Brexit
The start of 2021 saw significant changes to the UK’s immigration system for European nationals. Whereas EU nationals were free to live and work in the UK under the principle of free movement, this came to an end as of 1st January 2021. As a result, EEA/EU nationals living in the UK before the end of 2020 and their family members have been encouraged to apply for residence status in the UK under the EU settlement scheme. If you have not yet done so as an extended family member of an EU/EEA national living in the UK, you may be wondering if you can still use your UK residence card following Brexit. In this article, we will explain the rules on UK residence cards for EU nationals following the UK’s departure from the EU at the start of 2021.
What is a UK Residence Card?
UK Residence Cards, also referred to as EEA biometric residence cards (BRC), were issued to as proof of residency. This was a mandatory requirement for extended family members of EEA nationals a means of showing their legal residence status in the UK. As of 1st July 2021, EEA BRCs are no longer valid in the UK as proof of residency.
UKVI advise that it is no longer possible to apply for an EEA BRC, but any applications received before the end of 2020 will still be processed and considered (although, by now, it is likely that most or all of these will have been processed).
Do I need to change my residence card after Brexit?
Yes, as the EEA BRC is no longer valid in the UK, another type of proof is needed to show you have the right to reside here. As such, you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) for either pre-settled or settled status if you wish to retain residency in the UK. The main proviso is that you must have been living in the UK before the end of 2020 to be eligible under the EUSS. As you already have a UK Residence Card, this will be the case.
What happens when a European national comes to the UK after Brexit?
EU, EEA or Swiss citizens travelling to the UK can stay for up to six months without requiring a visa. In addition, the Home Office advises that “EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can continue to use the automatic ePassport gates to pass through the border on arrival”. Those travelling for business to the UK are allowed to participate in a wide range of activities, including meetings, events, and conferences. The immigration rules allow business people to enter the UK multiple times during the six-month period.
Eligibility for settlement under the EUSS
The eligibility rules for settlement in the UK under the EUSS are extremely straightforward. As long as you are a national of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and you lived in the UK before the end of 2020, you can apply. If you have lived in the UK for five years, you will be given full settled status (i.e., permanent residency). If you have lived in the UK for less than five years, you will be given pre-settled status, giving you five years to meet the residency requirement for settled status. That said, the deadline for applications closed on 30th June 2021, but if you have a good reason for not applying by that date, you can still submit an application to the EUSS for consideration. As outlined by the Home Office, reasonable grounds may include if:
- you’re a child, or applying for your child, and you did not know you needed to apply
- your parent, guardian or local authority did not apply for you when you were a child
- you have, or had, a medical condition which prevented you from applying
- you lacked the physical or mental capacity to apply
- you have care or support needs, or those caring for you were unaware of the deadline
- you’ve been the victim of modern slavery
- you’ve been in an abusive or controlling relationship
- you did not have internet access or access to relevant documents
- you came to the UK on a work or study visa and became eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme while you were here but did not know you could apply
- you already have indefinite leave to enter or remain, and you did not know you could apply to the scheme
- you had permanent residence status or a residence document that stopped being valid after 30th June 2021, and you did not know you needed to apply to the scheme
- you had difficulty accessing support to apply because of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
- another compelling practical or compassionate reason prevented you from applying
Permanent residence as a family member (dependant child or partner) of someone settled in the UK
You will also be able to apply to the EUSS if you are a family member of a person who is from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who started living in the UK before the end of 2020. You may also be eligible to apply as a family member if:
- you used to have a family member from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who started living in the UK by 31st December 2020 (but you’ve separated, they’ve died, or the family relationship has broken down)
- you’re the family member of a British citizen who you lived within the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein - you must have lived with them in that country by 31st December 2020 and returned to the UK with them before you apply
- you’re the family member of a British citizen who also is a citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and they lived in the UK as a citizen of one of these countries before getting British citizenship
- you have a family member who is an eligible person of Northern Ireland
- you’re the child of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who used to live and work in the UK - you must be in education in the UK
- you’re the family member of a person who is exempt from immigration control
- you’re the family member of a ‘frontier worker.’
How to apply
The EUSS application process is completed online, and there is no fee payable. As part of the application process, you will need to show that you were living in the UK (or your family member was) before the end of 2020 and also that you have a reasonable ground for not meeting the 30th June 2021 deadline.
How we can help you
As a leading immigration Solicitors based in central London, we have assisted many people to submit a valid late application to the EUSS in recent months. We will ensure that the evidence provided is sufficient to show you had reasonable grounds for making a late application and that you meet all of the other criteria necessary to secure settled or pre-settled status. Furthermore, if your application is refused, we can recommend the best course of action to take and handle this process for you.