EU Settlement Scheme And COVID Related Absences

The Home Office has published its official guidance for those applicants whose ‘continuous residence’ in the UK under the EU settlement scheme might have been affected by the pandemic.

Continuous qualifying period 

In order to obtain settled status, a person must have a ‘continuous residence’ of five years in accordance with Appendix EU. This will be broken if the person is absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period.

Absences 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, the new concessions mean that you will not be treated as exceeding the permitted absence period if you intended to be absent for no more than 6 months but exceeded this due to any coronavirus related reason.

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.

This has come as a welcome relief to many who have been stuck outside the country due to the virus and travel restrictions. However, you need to note that you will need to provide evidence to prove that you were indeed prevented from returning to the UK due to one of the above reasons.

 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’.The updated policy guidance permits a person to be absent for two periods of up to 12 months, where one of those absences was because of coronavirus. If either absence exceeds 12 months because coronavirus prevented the person returning to the UK earlier, as explained above, the absence will not be counted towards the continuous qualifying period of residence.

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

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

Whilst the guidance is welcomed by EU nationals and family members who have had lengthy absences, it is to be remembered that you will need to evidence that you were genuinely unable to travel to the UK due to coronavirus or an important reason. It’s always best to contact a lawyer to discuss your matter in detail before you submit an application.

If you are looking for Local Immigration Lawyers in London, contact Mulgrave Law. Our lawyers are considered to be one of the Top trusted immigration Law firms in London. Our client service is second to none. Lawyers and solicitors at Mulgrave Law have extensive experience dealing with applications under the EU settlement scheme who will guide you through the process and provide expert assistance along the way.

If you’d rather one of our lawyers call you back, visit our contact page and send us a message through our simple contact form.

We also offer a free (up to) 30 min initial consultation. Contact us now to take the stress out of your UK Visa application. Let’s talk.

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