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Keeping your family in the UK after Brexit

This advice applies to England

Most of the advice on this page is OISC level 1. The OISC regulates immigration advice.

Generalist advisers can use this page to help clients. We’ve specified where your client needs level 2 advice from an immigration specialist.

If you're from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland every member of your family should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in the UK. This includes your family members who are citizens of countries outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Check the deadlines for bringing family to live in the UK after Brexit

Your family members will need to be in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you’re a Swiss citizen, your family have until 31 December 2025 to join you in the UK.

If they aren’t living in the UK by those dates, they can only join you if you have pre-settled or settled status. You'll need to prove that your relationship began before 31 December 2020 to bring them to the UK.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal

Your family members can still come to live with you in the UK after 31 October 2019. You’ll need to have settled or pre-settled status. 

They can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They'll need to prove their relationship with you existed before 31 October 2019. If they’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, they need to be in the UK by 29 March 2022 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Bringing family to the UK from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

If your family members are citizens of countries outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, they should apply for a family permit to enter the UK. They don’t need to apply but it will be easier to enter the UK if they have one.

They need to be outside the UK to apply. The permit is free to apply for and will be valid for 6 months.

There are 2 types of permits:

  • EEA family permits
  • EU Settlement Scheme family permits

Your family member should apply for an EEA family permit if they’re eligible. They have the right to appeal if their application is refused. They don’t have a right to appeal if they’re refused an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.

Find out more about the family permits on GOV.UK.

Check if your child can get British citizenship

If your child was born in the UK, they might already be a British citizen. [Check if they have or can get citizenship]. [LINK TO ‘Check if you can get citizenship if you’re from the EU’ page]

If you’re pregnant

You should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status before your child is born. If you get settled status, your child will automatically be a British citizen when they’re born.

Check who in your family can apply for pre-settled or settled status

How your family members apply to the EU Settlement Scheme depends on where they’re from and how they’re related to you.

If your family member is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

If your family member is aged 21 or over, they have to apply to the scheme in their own right. If your child is under 21, you can apply for them or they can apply for themselves. Your child includes your step-child, adopted child, grandchild and great-grandchild.

If your family member is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your family can apply to the scheme because of their relationship to you. 

Family members who can apply are your:

  • child under 21 years old - including step-children, adopted children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
  • children over 21 years old - if they’re dependent on you
  • husband, wife, civil partner or long-term partner
  • parents, grandparents, great-grandparents - or those of your husband, wife or civil partner
  • brothers and sisters
  • nieces, nephews and cousins

The easiest way for them to apply is to link their application to yours - they’ll get the same status as you. You should apply first. You’ll get an application number which they can use when they apply. This means they won’t have to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK. 

If you aren’t applying, they’ll need to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK.

 Find out more about proving how long you’ve lived in the UK.

Applying for pre-settled or settled status for your child

The easiest way to apply is to link their application to yours - they’ll get the same status as you. You should apply first. You’ll get an application number which you can use when you fill in their application. This means they won’t have to prove how long they or you have lived in the UK.

You'll need to provide evidence to prove their relationship to you.

If your child is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

You should use a birth or adoption certificate to prove their relationship to you. If the child is your grandchild or great-grandchild, you’ll need birth certificates that prove your relationship to their parent.

If your child is from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

You should use their 'biometric residence card' to prove their identity when you apply for them. This means you won't have to provide evidence of their relationship to you because you proved it when you applied for the card.
If they don't have a biometric residence card, you should use:

  • their birth certificate
  • their adoption certificate
  • a family permit
  • their birth certificate and your marriage or civil partnership certificate - if they're the child of your husband, wife or civil partner
  • birth certificates that prove your relationship to their parent - if you're their grandparent or great-grandparent

Check when your child should apply for themselves

Your child can apply in their own right. They will need to prove how long they’ve lived in the UK.  If they’re from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland they’ll also need to prove their relationship to you.Your child should apply in their own right if: 

  • they qualify for settled status and you only qualify for pre-settled status
  • they live in the UK and you don’t
  • you aren’t going to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme

Find out more about how to apply for settled and pre-settled status.

Applying as a family member from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your family member should use their ‘biometric residence card’ to prove their identity when they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This means they won’t have to provide evidence of their relationship to you because they proved it when they applied for the card.

If they don’t have a biometric residence card, there are other ways they can prove their relationship to you.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal

Your long-term, unmarried partner should apply for a biometric residence card before 31 October 2019 in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. They’ll need this card to be able to stay in the UK and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Find out more about getting a residence card on GOV.UK. 

If they don’t have a biometric residence card, they’ll be able to stay for 3 months if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. If they want to stay longer, they’ll need to apply for European temporary leave to remain. More details about this scheme will be announced if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. They won’t be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Your husband, wife or civil partner will need to prove that your marriage or civil partnership began before 31 October 2019 to apply to the scheme.

Children aged 21 and over

They can only apply if they’re dependent on you. This means they can’t meet their basic needs without your financial support or care - they could be in full-time education, disabled or ill.  

If they don’t have a biometric residence card, they’ll need to prove:

If they’re the child of your husband, wife or civil partner, they’ll also need to show proof of this relationship - for example your marriage certificate.

Proving they’re dependent on you

If your child depends on you to pay for their basic needs, the best way to prove this is with bank statements showing, for example:

  • rent or mortgage payments on your home if they live with you or another home if they live elsewhere

  • regular payments you make to them - for example if they’re in full-time education

  • payments to meet their medical needs

You can use your bank statements or your child’s.

If your child is disabled or ill, they’ll also need to prove that this is the reason that they depend on you. The best way to prove this is with a letter from a hospital or your family doctor. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure what evidence you should use.

Husband, wife or civil partner

They’ll need to prove that your marriage or civil partnership began before 31 December 2020. They won’t need to provide any evidence if they use a biometric residence card when they apply.

The best evidence to use is a: 

  • residence card inside their passport - if they applied for it based on your relationship
  • registration certificate - if they applied for it based on your relationship
  • family permit

If they don’t have any of these they should use your marriage or civil partnership certificate or a registration document for a same sex partnership.

Long-term partner

This is someone you’re in a long-term relationship with for 2 years or more but you aren’t in a civil partnership or married. 

They’ll need to have a residence card or family permit to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about getting a residence card on GOV.UK.

When they apply, they’ll need to provide evidence that they’ve been living with you since the card or permit was issued. 

You’ll have to provide fewer documents if the evidence is in both your names. Use evidence like: 

  • a mortgage statement for a house or flat
  • a tenancy agreement for a house or flat
  • joint bank statements 
  • letters from your bank or an investment provider
  • council tax bills 
  • water, gas or electricity bills 

If you don’t have documents in both your names, you can provide separate documents for each of you showing you live at the same address. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help finding evidence of your relationship.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal

Your long-term, partner should apply for a biometric residence card before 31 October 2019 in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. They’ll need this card to be able to stay in the UK and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Find out more about getting a residence card on GOV.UK. 

If they don’t have a biometric residence card, they’ll be able to stay for 3 months if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. If they want to stay longer, they’ll need to apply for European temporary leave to remain. More details about this scheme will be announced if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. They won’t be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Parents, grandparents and great-grandparents

This includes adoptive parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and those of your husband, wife or civil partner.

If they don’t have a biometric residence card, the best evidence to prove their relationship to you is: 

  • a family permit 
  • your adoption certificate
  • your birth certificate - to prove a parent’s relationship to you
  • your birth certificate or adoption certificate and a parent’s birth certificate - to prove a grandparent’s relationship to you
  • birth certificates for you, a parent and grandparent - to prove a great-grandparent’s relationship to you

If they’re the family member of your husband, wife or civil partner, they’ll also need to show proof of this relationship - for example your marriage certificate.

Step-parents and parents of a long-term partner

Step-parents and the parents of a long-term partner can only apply if they’re dependent on you. This means they can’t meet their basic needs without your financial support or care. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if this applies to you.

Brothers, sisters, and other family members

Family members like your brother, sister, aunt, cousin, niece or nephew can  only apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they depend on you for their basic needs. 

If they’re not dependent on you there are other ways they can apply to stay in the UK. [Contact your nearest Citizens Advice] [LINK TO contact page] if you think this applies to your family member. 

Proving they’re dependent on you

If your family member doesn’t have a biometric residence card, they’ll need to have either a:

  • family permit
  • paper residence card - they can find this in their passport
  • permanent residence document 

When they applied for this document, they’ll have proved they rely on you for their basic needs. 

They’ll now need to prove this relationship is continuing when they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they’re ill or disabled and you’re caring for them they can show a letter from the hospital. If they’re living with you they could show a letter to you both at the same address from a bank, gas or electricity company. 

If they’re the extended family of your husband, wife or civil partner, they’ll need to have a residence document that was issued to them before 1 February 2017.

If you’re struggling to prove any of these things you can contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help. 

If your family member is a carer

Someone who is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland who cares for another family member will need to prove both of the following:

  • they’re dependent on you for financial support

  • another member of your family depends on them for care

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if this applies to you.

If you’re a British citizen

Your family members who are citizens of countries outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you: 

  • are an EU or EEA citizen and you became a British citizen
  • lived and worked or studied in the EU and your family member lived there with you

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think this applies to you.

OISC level 2 - Family members who lived in the EU, EEA or Switzerland with a British citizen 

This advice is OISC level 2. 

Generalist advisers can give clients the information in this section, but must refer them to an immigration specialist if they need advice. Check what to do if your client needs level 2 advice.

Find out more about British citizenship if your client was born outside the UK and they had a British parent on GOV.UK.

Some family members of British citizens can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they lived in an EU country with the British citizen. This is known as a Surinder Singh application. Find more information about Surinder Singh applications to the EU Settlement Scheme on GOV.UK.

If your client’s family member doesn’t have a biometric residence card, they’ll need to use the same documents to prove the relationship as they would for a residence card application. Find out more about Surinder Singh residence card applications on GOV.UK.

They’ll need to apply on a paper form. Find out more about applying on a paper form.

Citizens Advice EU Settlement Scheme specialist helpline

Telephone: 0300 330 9066
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
This number is for advisers only - you shouldn’t give it to clients.

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