EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for UK immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme, in line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union published on 19 March 2018.
As set out in paragraph 3.4 of the Statement of Intent on the scheme published on 21 June 2018, ‘resident in the UK’ will include those who are outside the UK on 31 December 2020 but who have maintained continuity of residence here, generally as set out in current free movement rules for those who have not already acquired EU permanent residence rights, and up to five years’ absence for those who have. Once granted, settled status under the scheme will not lapse unless the holder is then absent from the UK for more than five consecutive years.
We are considering carefully how we can ensure that EU citizen Crown servants and their family members, the EU citizen family members of British citizen Crown servants and EU citizen family members of HM Forces personnel, are not unfairly disadvantaged under the scheme by absences from the UK as a result of overseas postings. We are working closely with other departments on this issue and will set out further details in due course.