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Naturalisation & Passport services

Settled Status and British Citizenship

June 26, 2020 412

Many migrants have successfully applied for Pre-Settled Status or Settled Status under the new EU Settlement Scheme. This scheme is open to EEA nationals and their family members in the UK and it has been designed to replace the EEA Residence Card and EEA Permanent Residence statuses. Somebody who has been in the UK for five years or more may qualify for Settled Status.

A lot of those who have acquired Settled Status are interested in applying for British naturalisation but in some cases they have run into a problem. Unless they are married to a British citizen they have to show that they have held settlement (ie no time limit on their stay in the UK) for at least 12 months before they apply. Settled Status does – as its name suggests – provide settlement but it cannot be backdated, and this can be an issue.

It sometimes happens that a migrant has been in the UK for six years or more when they apply for settlement. Under the Permanent Residence application rules, if they could show at least six years’ residence (ie five years plus one year), once they had acquired Permanent Residence then they could apply for British naturalisation immediately, because they were deemed to have held settlement for one year. But this is not the case with Settled Status: it only confers settlement on the date that Settled Status is acquired.

And this is not the only problem. Migrants who hold Settled Status and who apply for British naturalisation may find that Settled Status does not work in the same way that Permanent Residence does. The Home Office may write to them and ask them for more evidence about the lawfulness of their stay during the five-year qualifying period. If they are an EEA national they may have to provide evidence about how they were exercising Treaty rights (working, studying, job-seeking, financially self-sufficient) during that time. The reason for this is that applicants for Settled Status do not have to provide detailed evidence about it.

So if you hold, or are thinking of applying for, Settled Status and your ambition is to acquire British citizenship you may want to take good legal advice about your options. At Get UK Visa we have good experience of these issues and we will be able to help you.

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