EU series Part 5 of 5: When can you lose your status under Appendix EU?


1. Pre-settled status 

When an EEA and Swiss national and their family members are granted Pre-Settled status, they will have the right to live and work in the UK for 5 years. They will retain pre-settled status if they are absent from the UK up to 2 years; more than 2 years and the pre-settled status is lost. On the surface, this does seem to be very generous. However, it is very important for pre-settled status holders to be aware that there are circumstances where they may retain their pre-settled status, but lose their eligibility to apply for settled status in the future. In addition, there are circumstances where pre-settled status can be lost altogether:

Personal conduct: 

Before considering circumstances of when pre-settled status can be lost, consideration is required as to whether the relevant EEA national and family member meet the suitability requirement under Appendix EU. The assessment of suitability must be conducted on a case by case basis and be based on the applicant’s personal conduct and circumstances in the UK and overseas. There is no requirement to declare spent offences, cautions or alternatives to prosecution for example, fixed penalty notices for speeding. However, it is always good policy to be open and honest in any application to the Home Office.

Absences of more than 6 months but less than 12 months: 

For a relevant EEA national and their family members to become eligible for settled status, they must have acquired 5 years of continuous residence. Being absent from the UK for more than 6 months in any given 12 month period of the 5 years will break the 5 years continuous residence. There are some exceptions where an absence of more than 6 months (but does not exceed 12 months) will be permitted. Examples are given on page 137 of the EU Settlement Scheme: EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members - Version 10.0.

The Home Office has now clarified the position about whether or not, absence from the UK due to the coronavirus will fall under an exception. In summary, COVID-19 related absences of more than 6 months but less than 12 months will not break continuous residence in the following situations:

A single absence because the relevant EEA national was unable to return to the UK due to contracting the virus or was in quarantine

A single absence where a student who was studying in the UK and is now studying outside the UK because of the coronavirus

Absences over 12 months or over 6 months which the exceptions do not apply, results in the continuous period of 5 years being broken. In these circumstances, only pre-settled status holders who return to the UK before 31 December 2020 can extend their pre-settled status and apply for settled status in the future. Those who return to the UK after 31 December 2020, must apply for lawful leave under a different category or leave the UK.

Periods of imprisonment: 

Imprisonment only includes physical incarceration and not suspended sentences. A continuous qualifying period is broken where the person served or is serving a sentence of imprisonment of any length in the UK. If the length of imprisonment is more than 2 years, the pre-settled status holder could also lose their status entirely. The residence will restart upon release and this will also break and restart the continuous period that their family members intend to rely on.

Supervening event:

Is defined as a continuous qualifying period that has been broken in the following ways (unless it has been set aside); an absence from the UK for more than 5 consecutive years (applies to settled status holders only), an exclusion decision/order or a deportation order.

Settled status 

Having settled status (previous permanent residence holders under the EEA Regulations 2016 or pre-settled status issued with settled status after acquiring 5 years of residence) means that there are fewer ways to lose your status:

i. Absences:

A settled status holder may be absent for any length of time up to 5 years before they lose their settled status.

ii. Cancellation, curtailment and revocation of status (also applies to pre-settled status holders):

Where it is justified on grounds of public policy, public security or public health in accordance to the EEA Regulations 2016;

Where it is justified on the ground that it is conducive to the public good, on the basis of the person's conduct committed after the "specified date";

Where the applicant has provided false or misleading information/representations/documents which was material to the decision to grant the applicant status under Appendix EU;

Curtailment will also be justified on the ground that if at a later date, there is evidence that a marriage of convenience had taken place then the status holder no longer meets the requirements of Appendix EU.

The key take away from this is that pre-settled status holders should keep a close eye on the number of days they have been absent from the UK. Particularly, those who arrive in the UK during the grace period (1 January 2021 – 30 June 2021). Those who arrived during the grace period and have an absence of more than 6 months but less than 12 months which does not fall under the exception or an important reason, cannot extend their pre-settled status once it expires. Before their status expires, they will need to either apply to extend their stay under a different immigration category or leave the UK.

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