Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (2024)

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
24 June 2024

In February 2023, the High Court delivered a decision that, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement when the UK left the EU, pre-settled status holders do not lose their residency rights upon failure to make an application for settled status before the pre-settled status expires.

In response, the Home Office published a statement of changes in July 2023, which confirmed that, from September 2023, the Home Office will automatically grant a two year extension to pre-settled status holders shortly before they approach their current date of expiry.

The Home Office issued a press release for the changes, stating that, from September 2023, people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have their status extended by two years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status. The process was to be automated by the Home Office and reflected in the person’s digital status and that the person would be notified of the extension directly. This will ensure that nobody loses their immigration status if they did not apply to switch from pre-settled to settled status. The Home Office, in the press announcement, also said that they intend to take steps to automatically convert as many eligible pre-settled status holders as possible to settled status when they are eligible for it, without them needing to make an application.

On 21 May 2024, the Home Office announced a further change that will impact pre-settled status holders in the UK, including a change in the duration of the automatic extension period for two years to five years.

What is the impact of these changes?

One of the changes the Home Office has announced is removing the pre-settled status expiry date from the digital profiles shown to third parties in the online checking service for right to work and right to rent. Similarly, there will be removal of the requirement for employers and landlords to carry out follow-up checks once pre-settled status has been initially determined. In due course, these changes will be reflected on the screens of the right to work and right to rent checks third parties can conduct So, now the automatic extension to pre-settled status will be for five years not two!

Do these extensions apply to everyone with pre-settled status?

In principle and on the basis of the reading of the rules, it should apply only to those who continue to meet the eligibility requirements for pre-settled status (except for the requirement of dependency which apply to children, dependent parents or dependent relatives). One of the eligibility requirements is that the individual has completed a continuous qualifying period of residence in the UK which began before 31 December 2020. A continuous qualifying period of residence is broken through absence from the UK of more than six months in any 12-month period, unless one of the limited numbers of exception apply. This means that those who have, since being granted pre-settled status, have been absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period, may not be eligible for the automatic extension. However, the extent to which the Home Office will conduct such examination extensions remains unclear. If an individual has broken their continuity of residence since 31 December 2020, the qualifying period for settled status cannot be completed by relying on an extension. Further extensions might be issued, but this will not allow such individuals to obtain settled status under the current rules.