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Keeping your family in the UK after Brexit

This advice applies to England

If you're from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland every member of your family should apply to stay in the UK after Brexit. 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

The deadlines depend on whether the UK leaves the EU with an agreement. 

If there’s a deal

To apply for 'pre-settled' or 'settled status', your family members need to be in the UK by 31 December 2020.

If they aren't in the UK by that date, they can only join you if both:

  • you have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • your relationship began before 31 December 2020 (or before 31 December 2025 for family members of Swiss citizens)

If there’s no deal

If you want to bring family to the UK after it leaves the EU, you’ll need to have pre-settled or settled status.

If they’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can bring them until 29 March 2022.

To apply for pre-settled or settled status, they'll need to:

  • prove their relationship with you existed while the UK was part of the EU
  • if they're your unmarried partner or a relative who is dependent on you, apply for a residence card before 11pm on the day the UK leaves the EU

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

Bringing citizens of countries 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 need to be outside the UK to apply. The permit is free to apply for and will be valid for 6 months.

They might be eligible for an:

  • EEA family permit
  • EU Settlement Scheme family permit

If they're eligible for both, they should apply for an EEA family permit. This will give them the right to appeal if their application is refused at first. The EU Settlement Scheme family permit doesn't give them the right to appeal.

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

Once they are in the UK, your family members need to apply for pre-settled or settled status before their family permit expires. 

If their family permit expires before they get a status, they can use their certificate of application to prove their right to live, work and study in the UK. The government will send them the certificate after they submit their application for a status.

Applying for pre-settled or settled status for your child

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.

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 don't have to prove how long they or you have lived in the UK. 

Don’t link applications if they qualify for settled status and you only qualify for pre-settled status.

If you're applying for your child

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 also 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 don't have to prove 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 your step-child
  • if you're their grandparent or great-grandparent - birth certificates that prove your relationship to their parent

If your child is applying for themselves

Your child should apply for themselves if:

  • they live in the UK and you don’t
  • you aren’t going to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme

They need to prove how long they’ve lived in the UK. They only need to prove their relationship to you if they’re from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

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

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.

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 how adult family members apply for pre-settled or settled status

How your family members aged 21 or over 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

Your family members have to apply to the scheme in their own right if they’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

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

If your family member is from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

The easiest way for your family member to apply is to link their application to yours. You should apply first. You’ll get an application number which they can use when they apply. This means they don't have to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK. 

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

They should use their ‘biometric residence card’ to prove their identity when they apply. This means they don'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.

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

Children aged 21 or 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 your step-child, they also need to show:

  • their birth certificate
  • your marriage or civil partnership 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 also need to prove that this is why 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 need to have proof of your marriage or civil partnership. They don't need to provide any evidence if they use their biometric residence card to prove their identity when they apply.

If they don't have a biometric residence card, 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.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal

If they apply after 11pm on the day the UK leaves the EU, they'll need to prove your marriage or civil partnership began before that date.

Long-term partner

This is someone you’ve been in a relationship with for 2 years or more but you aren’t in a civil partnership or married. 

They need to have a residence card or family permit to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They should apply for a biometric residence card or family permit before 11pm on the day the UK leaves the EU. This is in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. 

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

When they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, they need to prove they’ve been living with you since the card or permit was issued.

You do not have to provide as many documents if the ones you use are 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.

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
  • if they're your parent - your birth certificate
  • if they're your grandparent - your birth certificate or adoption certificate and a parent's birth certificate
  • if they're your great-grandparent - birth certificates for you, a parent and grandparent

If they're a family member of your husband, wife or civil partner, they 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 if they’re dependent on you. This means they can’t meet their basic needs without your financial support or care.

Proving they're dependent on you

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

  • family permit
  • paper residence card
  • permanent residence document

They should apply for a biometric residence card or family permit before 11pm on the day the UK leaves the EU, in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. If this happens, they can only apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they have a residence card or family permit.

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

They now need to prove they’re still dependent on you 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 related to your husband, wife or civil partner, they need 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

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 your family member isn’t dependent on you

If your family member isn’t dependent on you there might be other ways they can apply to stay in the UK. You should get specialist immigration advice if you think this applies to your family member.

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 after moving to the UK
  • lived in the EU with that family member while the UK was part of the EU and you were working or studying

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

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