Updates to Pre-Settled Status

Updates to Law on Pre-Settled Status
Legally reviewed by: Nisha Leel Updated: In: Immigration

Summary of Updates to Pre-Settled Status

The UK Home Office has recently announced that pre-settled status extensions will be in five-year blocks that repeat right to work. Additionally, the Home Office will be abolishing right to rent checks. Finally, the Home Office will make new regulations to increase the absence period that causes pre-settled status to lapse.

Updates Released by the Home Office

Last year, individuals successfully challenged the Home Office on matters regarding pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. As a result, on 21 May 2024, the Home Office released the following changes:

  • The amount of time the Home Office will automatically extend pre-settled status will increase from two years to five.
  • Employers, landlords, and letting agents performing right to work and right to rent checks will see a digital status without an expiry date as the Home Office removes it. Only England requires right to rent checks.
  • Employers, landlords and letting agents will no longer be required to carry out repeat right to work/right to rent checks for pre-settled status holders.

Updates to When Pre-Settled Status Lapse

Furthermore, the Home Office has implemented new regulations, increasing the period that pre-settled status will only lapse after an absence from the UK from two years to five years. This period has been updated to four years in the case of Swiss nationals and their family members.

These updates aim to address the fact some pre-settled status holders might have acquired settled status under the Withdrawal Agreement. However, this may not have been formally recognised by the UK Government through the grant of settled status following their application. Therefore, the Home Office plans to implement measures over 2024 to facilitate the conversion of eligible pre-settled status holders to settled status without the need for them to make an application.

Remaining Requirement of Five Years’ Continuous Residence

The recent updates will not affect the requirement for a pre-settled status holder to have five years’ continuous residence in the UK in order to reach settled status. In order to have continuous residence, you must have accrued less than six months of absences from the UK in any 12 month period. However, exceptions to this rule can be when an individual has a single absence of up to 12 months for an important reason such as:

  • childbirth
  • pregnancy
  • serious illness
  • study
  • vocational training
  • overseas work posting
  • falling within the guidelines of the Home Office’s COVID-19 absences policy

When May the Home Office Refuse an Application?

Breaking continuous residence allows the Home Office to refuse settled status or cancel pre-settled status. However, the Home Office will only make this decision if deem it to be proportionate. The Home Office will either allow the pre-settled status holder to proceed till settlement on completion of five years’ continuous residence since the holder broke continuity. Alternatively, the Home Office can allow for the pre-status holder to keep their pre-settled status, proceeding to settled status once they complete five years’ continuous residence.

Changes for UK Employers

These updates mean that UK employers will no longer need to conduct repeat right-to-work checks for their employees with pre-settled status. However, if an employer becomes aware that an employee has lost their pre-settled status, either through cancellation or expiration, they cannot claim a statutory excuse to avoid liability for a civil penalty related to illegal employment.

What to Do Next?

First, the Home Office will need to update its internal systems and underlying regulations to implement the changes to right to work and right to rent checks. Once these updates are implemented, the Employers’ Guide to Right to Work Checks and the Landlord’s Guide to Right to Rent Checks will be updated. Employers, landlords, and letting agents should then perform online checks in accordance with the new guidance.

To ensure compliance with these updates, it’s important to stay informed and update your procedures accordingly. If you have any questions or need assistance navigating these changes, please contact our immigration team for expert guidance and support.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.