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Switching from pre-settled to settled status

This advice applies to England

If you have pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme you should apply to switch to settled status once you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years.

Check if you can apply to switch to settled status

You need to have spent 5 years in a row living in the UK to switch from pre-settled to settled status. 

During these 5 years, you can spend up to 6 months outside the UK in any 12-month period. 

You might not be able to get settled status if you spend more than 6 months outside the UK.

The day your 5 years starts depends on whether:

  • you’re from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
  • you’re from a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your 5 years starts from the day you started living in the UK, not the day you got pre-settled status. You can apply for settled status before your pre-settled status expires - it's a good idea to do this as soon as you have lived in the UK for 5 years.You don’t have to wait until your pre-settled status is about to expire to apply for settled status.

If you’re from a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

The rules about when your 5 years of residence starts are different depending on if you’re a close family member or an extended family member. 

You’re a close family member if you’re a:

  • husband, wife or civil partner
  • dependent parent or grandparent
  • child or grandchild under 21 years old
  • dependent child aged 21 or over

Your 5 years starts from the day you became a close family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, not the day you arrived in the UK - for example, the day you married your partner. It doesn't matter if they didn’t have settled or pre-settled status at the time.

You’re an extended family member if you’re a:

  • long-term partner who isn’t married or in a civil partnership
  • brother or sister
  • aunt or uncle
  • niece or nephew
  • cousin

If you had a residence card or family permit when your relationship started, your 5 years starts on that day. If you didn’t have one of these, your 5 years starts the day your family member got pre-settled status.

You can find out more about applying for pre-settled status and settled status as a family member.

You can apply for pre-settled and settled status as a family member on GOV.UK.

If you’ve been out of the UK for more than 6 months

You might not be able to get settled status if you spent more than 6 months outside the UK within any 12-month period.

There are some exceptions to this. You might still be able to get settled status if you were outside the UK for up to 12 months for:

  • an ‘important reason’ - for example, pregnancy or military service
  • any reason related to coronavirus - this includes shielding, caring responsibilities and following guidance not to travel 

If you were out of the UK for longer than 12 months in a row, or for 2 periods of more than 6 months, because of coronavirus, this won’t break your continuity of residence. But this time won’t count towards the 5 years you need for settled status.

Some people who have retired or had to stop working might be able to get settled status if they’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years. You can find out about applying if you’re retired or had to stop working.

If you can’t apply

You might be able to get pre-settled status again if both of the following apply:

  • the time spent outside the UK was before 31 December 2020
  • you were back in the UK by 31 December 2020

You might also be able to get pre-settled status again if you apply to join a family member from the EU, EEA or Switzerland who has pre-settled or settled status. They must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

You can find out more about applying as a family member.

Applying to switch to settled status

You’ll need to prove your identity using your identity document. 

If you're an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen your identity document is your passport or national identity card.

If you're from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland your identity document is your passport, 'biometric residence card' or 'biometric residence permit'.

You’ll also need to provide evidence of your continuous residence. This can sometimes be proved automatically using your National Insurance number - you won't need to give any documents as evidence.

If your pre-settled status is based on your relationship to a family member you’ll need to provide evidence of that relationship.

You can find out more about preparing to apply for settled status.

You can apply to switch to settled status on GOV.UK. 

If your application is successful you’ll get a letter confirming your status emailed to you, and your status will change in your online account.

What to do if your application fails

If you don’t get settled status and you think a mistake was made, you might be able to apply for an administrative review on GOV.UK. This costs £80, and you’ll get this money back if the decision is changed because of a mistake.

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