At the time of application, you need to have completed a continuous 5 year period of residence:
- as an EU citizen;
- as a family member of an EU citizen;
- as a family member who has retained the right of residence by virtue of a relationship with a relevant EU citizen; or
- in any combination of those categories.
Continuity of residence
Being continuously resident in the UK means not having been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in total in any 12 month period, during the 5 year period of residence you are relying on for your application. These 6 months can be either continuous or a number of shorter absences. There are some exceptions:
- A single absence of up to 12 months is permitted, where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting. Evidence to support an absence as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or serious illness can be a letter or other records from a qualified medical professional. Evidence to support an absence as a result of study, vocational training or an overseas posting can be a letter or other records from the relevant educational establishment or employer.
- Any period of absence on compulsory military service. Evidence can be a letter or other records from the relevant government body.
Once you have been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years, you can use this period to apply for settled status provided that, since completing that 5 year period, you have not been absent from the UK for more than 5 consecutive years.
If you been continuously resident in the UK for less than 5 years, continuity of residence is broken, and restarts from scratch on release, if you served, or are serving, a prison sentence of any length in the UK, although there are some exceptions to this rule.
If you provide your National Insurance number, checks will be run against HMRC and, once this function is available, DWP
records to establish what those records show about your residence in the UK. If these checks indicate that you have been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years, and you have confirmed, by way of a self-declaration as part of the application process, that you have not since been absent from the UK for a period of more than 5 consecutive years, no further evidence of residence will be required to determine eligibility.
If these checks indicate that you have been resident in the UK for less than 5 years, you have to option to either:
- confirm this and be offered pre-settled status (Limited Leave to Remain); or
- claim to qualify for settled status on the basis of less than 5 years’ continuous residence (see Settled status in less than five years); or
- provide documentary evidence to prove 5 years’ continuous residence (see Proving residence and evidence).
If you do not have, or do not provide, a National Insurance number, or the automated checks do not show any evidence of residence, you will be asked to provide documents to support your application. See Proving residence and evidence.