Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): EU Settlement Scheme - guidance for applicants

Guidance for EUSS applicants in or outside the UK who have been affected by restrictions associated with coronavirus.

Overview

This page gives you information on applying to the EU Settlement Scheme where your continuous residence in the UK has been affected by coronavirus.

In particular, it explains when it may be possible for you to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme where ordinarily you would have exceeded the permitted absence from the UK, and broken your period of continuous residence, but the reason for that absence is because of coronavirus.

In such cases, this guidance acts as a concession outside Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules. In accordance with Article 38 of the Withdrawal Agreement (and its equivalent under the other Citizens’ Rights Agreements), it replaces the relevant provisions of Appendix EU which govern permitted absences where applicants within the scope of this guidance are concerned. It will do so until Appendix EU is amended by a Statement of Change in Immigration Rules.

How to apply

You can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme online.

When completing your application you will be prompted, where necessary, to upload additional evidence of your UK residence in support of your application. You should upload evidence of how coronavirus affected your ability to return to the UK within the absence otherwise permitted under the EUSS.

An applicant applying on a paper application form should submit this evidence together with their application.

You may be able to use alternative evidence of identity and nationality, or (if you are applying from outside the UK) of entitlement to apply from outside the UK. This is permitted if you are unable to obtain or produce a passport or national identity card due to circumstances beyond your control, or due to compelling practical or compassionate reasons, arising, in either case, from the impact of coronavirus.

For example, the closure of, or inability to travel to, an embassy or high commission may prevent you from renewing your passport or national identity card, or may mean you cannot finalise an application for a new document. These may be acceptable reasons to provide alternative evidence of identity and nationality or entitlement to apply from outside the UK.

You’ll need to provide alternative evidence of your identity and nationality or entitlement to apply from outside the UK. These can include:

  • a document previously issued by the Home Office
  • an expired passport or national identity card
  • an official document issued by the authorities of your country of origin or of the UK which confirms your identity and nationality

A paper application form is available if you need to provide alternative evidence of your identity and nationality or entitlement to apply from outside the UK.

If you need to submit your application using a paper application form, you can request a form by contacting the EU Settlement Resolution Centre. You’ll need to explain why you need one when you contact us.

Each application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and caseworkers will adopt a flexible approach when considering the evidence you have provided and apply discretion where appropriate. You may be contacted for further information or evidence to support your application where the caseworker feels this is necessary.

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:

  • you have a later deadline - for example, you’re joining a family member in the UK who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 - for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse

Check if you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Absence of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’

Under Appendix EU, your ‘continuous qualifying period’ of residence will not be broken where you have been absent for a single period of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’. Examples include pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

An ‘important reason’ also includes (but is not limited to) where you can show you were:

  • ill with coronavirus
  • in quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance on coronavirus
  • caring for a family member affected by coronavirus
  • prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by coronavirus
  • advised by your university that, due to coronavirus, your course was moved to remote learning and you were advised or allowed to return to your home country to study remotely
  • advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country
  • absent from the UK for another reason relating to coronavirus, for example, you left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer coronavirus restrictions elsewhere; you preferred to work or run a business from home overseas; or you would have been unemployed in the UK and preferred to rely on support from family or friends overseas

This means you can rely on any coronavirus related reason (including where you chose to leave or remain outside the UK because of the pandemic) as being an ‘important reason’ permitting an absence of up to 12 months. In these circumstances, you will not have broken your continuous qualifying period of residence.

Read examples of evidence you can provide to confirm your absence and the reason for it.

Absence not intended to exceed 6 months and did not exceed 12 months

Under Appendix EU, your ‘continuous qualifying period’ of residence will not be broken where, for any reason, you have been absent for no more than 6 months in any 12-month period.

However, if you intended to be absent for no more than 6 months, but exceeded this because of coronavirus, you will not be treated as exceeding the absence permitted under Appendix EU.

Where you have not been absent for a single period of more than 12 months, you can still apply to the EUSS where you can evidence that this extended absence is because of coronavirus.

This includes (but is not limited to) where you can show you were:

  • ill with coronavirus
  • in quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance on coronavirus
  • caring for a family member affected by coronavirus
  • prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by coronavirus
  • advised by your university that, due to coronavirus, your course was moved to remote learning and you were advised or allowed to return to your home country to study remotely
  • advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country, due to coronavirus
  • absent from the UK for another reason relating to coronavirus, for example, you left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer coronavirus restrictions elsewhere; you preferred to work or run a business from home overseas; or you would have been unemployed in the UK and preferred to rely on support from family or friends overseas

This means you can rely on any coronavirus related reason (including where you chose to leave or remain outside the UK because of the pandemic) as the basis for requiring an absence of more than 6 months and up to 12 months. In these circumstances, you will be treated as not having broken your continuous qualifying period of residence.

Read examples of evidence you can provide to confirm your absence and the reason for it.

Absence exceeding 12 months

Under Appendix EU, your ‘continuous qualifying period’ of residence will not be broken where you have been absent for a single period of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’.

Examples of an ‘important reason’ include (but are not limited to):

  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • serious illness
  • study
  • vocational training
  • an overseas posting

It also includes where, as set out above, you have been absent because of coronavirus.

However, if you have been absent for an ‘important reason’ – whether because of coronavirus or for another important reason – but your absence has exceeded 12 months because coronavirus meant you were prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK earlier, you have exceeded the absence permitted under Appendix EU.

You can still apply to the EUSS where you can evidence that this extended absence is because coronavirus meant you were prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK within 12 months and for a period thereafter.

This includes (but is not limited to) where you can show you were:

  • ill with coronavirus
  • in quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance on coronavirus
  • caring for a family member affected by coronavirus
  • prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by coronavirus
  • advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country, due to coronavirus

This means that where, after an absence of 12 months for an ‘important reason’, coronavirus meant you were prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK within 12 months, you will be treated as not having broken your continuous qualifying period of residence.

Read examples of evidence that you can provide to confirm your absence and the reason for it see.

The period of absence exceeding 12 months will not be counted towards your continuous qualifying period of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme. Your continuous qualifying period will be paused from the point your absence reached 12 months and will resume from the point you return to the UK.

Where you hold pre-settled status, and this is due to expire before you can complete the continuous qualifying period of residence required for you to be eligible for settled status, you will be able to apply for a further grant of pre-settled status.

You have already been absent from the UK for up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’ and now need to be so for a second time, and one of those absences is because of coronavirus

Under Appendix EU, you can only have a single period of absence of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’, as set out above. Where you have a second period of absence exceeding 6 months in any 12-month period for an ‘important reason’, you have exceeded the absence permitted under Appendix EU.

However, you can still apply to the EUSS where you can evidence that one of those periods of absence of up to 12 months is because of coronavirus.

This includes (but is not limited to) where you can show you were:

  • ill with coronavirus
  • in quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance on coronavirus
  • caring for a family member affected by coronavirus
  • prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by coronavirus
  • advised by your university that, due to coronavirus, your course was moved to remote learning and you were advised or allowed to return to your home country to study remotely
  • advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country, due to coronavirus
  • absent from the UK for another reason relating to coronavirus, for example, you left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer coronavirus restrictions elsewhere; you preferred to work or run a business from home overseas; or you would have been unemployed in the UK and preferred to rely on support from family or friends overseas

This means you can rely on any coronavirus related reason (including where you chose to leave or remain outside the UK because of the pandemic) as the basis for requiring a second period of absence of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’. In these circumstances, you will be treated as not having broken your continuous qualifying period of residence.

Read examples of evidence that you can provide to confirm your absence and the reason for it see.

Either period of absence may exceed the 12-month maximum for a period of absence for an ‘important reason’ permitted by Appendix EU because coronavirus meant you were prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK earlier, as set out above. In these circumstances, that excess absence will not be counted towards your continuous qualifying period of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme, as set out above.

Up to the first 6 months of the second period of absence will be counted towards your continuous qualifying period of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme, where the period counted means you have not been absent for more than 6 months in any 12-month period. Your continuous qualifying period will be paused from that point and will resume from the point you return to the UK.

Where you hold pre-settled status, and this is due to expire before you can complete the continuous qualifying period of residence required for you to be eligible for settled status, you will be able to apply for a further grant of pre-settled status.

Examples of evidence to be provided

In addition to the other evidence required to apply to the EUSS, you will also need to provide evidence of the length of, and reason for, any absence relating to coronavirus that you wish to rely on.

Examples of acceptable evidence include (but are not limited to):

  • used travel tickets confirming the dates you left the UK and returned
  • confirmation of flight cancellations detailing the dates and times
  • doctor’s letter confirming you contracted coronavirus
  • doctor’s letter confirming you were identified as vulnerable and advised to shield
  • email or letter confirming you, or a person you were living with, received a positive coronavirus test result
  • official letter confirming you were in coronavirus quarantine
  • doctor’s letter confirming your family member, who you have been caring for, contracted coronavirus or was identified as vulnerable and advised to shield
  • email or letter confirming your family member, who you have been caring for, received a positive coronavirus test result
  • letter from a university advising you that, due to coronavirus, your course was moved to remote learning and you were advised or allowed to return to your home country to study remotely
  • letter from a university or employer advising you not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from your home country, due to coronavirus
  • letter or other evidence from you accounting for your absence for another reason relating to coronavirus, for example, you left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer coronavirus restrictions elsewhere; you preferred to work or run a business from home overseas; or you would have been unemployed in the UK and preferred to rely on support from family or friends overseas

You can provide a copy of these documents. We may ask you to send us the original documents if we need to see them.

You may also be contacted by a caseworker to provide more information or evidence to show how you have been affected by coronavirus. The caseworker will give you a reasonable opportunity in which to provide this before making a decision on your application.

Read further information on what is needed to apply to the EUSS on GOV.UK.

Published 15 December 2020
Last updated 1 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added content to show that the deadline to apply for most people was 30 June 2021. You may still be able to apply.

  2. Updated guidance to reflect the revised policy on coronavirus related absences under the EUSS.

  3. First published.