Date updated: Wednesday 31st January 2024

Effective as of 16 January 2024, a number of key legal changes could restrict future access to the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS). 

The EUSS was established to allow EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who were living in the UK before Brexit (i.e. before 31 December 2020) to secure UK immigration status and continue their lives in the UK. 

The Government is keen to conclude this registration exercise and prevent abuse of the EUSS scheme. However, a great number of EU nationals with permanent residence status in the UK remain unregistered and still require support to secure their status.

What is the purpose of the changes?

Recent changes to the immigration rules aim to:

Stop those arriving in the UK on small boats or by other irregular means from applying to the EUSS – this reinforces the Government's approach to tackling illegal migration to the UK.

Ensure that any family members who enter as visitors to join a person with settled or pre-settled status living in the UK apply for EUSS status within three months of arrival to the UK (rather than waiting until their six-month visitor permission is complete).

Allow the Home Office to remove EUSS status where it can be shown that the individual never met the legal requirement.

Are late applications to EUSS still possible?

Yes. In a change of policy in place since August 2023, the Government has agreed to accept late applications to the EUSS for those who hold other UK permanent residence documents and had the ‘reasonable belief’ that they did not need to apply under the EUSS to continue living in the UK.

What should individual EU nationals do?

Individuals with any concerns about their family members or their status in EU law, or have had a late EUSS application rejected in the last six months, should seek immigration advice. 

It is essential that those with permanent residence documents obtained at any point prior to Brexit, many of whom wrongly assume their position in the UK to be secure, take active steps to obtain EUSS status via a late application.

We anticipate travel disruption for those who do not obtain EUSS status and a UKVI account before 31 December 2024 – there is still time to avoid this.

What support is available?

Stone King provides specialist advice on EU law to individuals living in the UK. Our immigration team supports private clients with a range of services from consultations through to full late EUSS applications.