Continuous residence is assessed along the same lines as per current criteria under EU law regarding freedom of movement rules, however, the EU Settlement Scheme will not take into account other requirements under those rules, such having held comprehensive sickness insurance or to have exercised specific rights such as working. The UK has decided, as a matter of domestic policy, that the main requirement for eligibility under the settlement scheme will be continuous residence in the UK.
For people who have been resident in the UK less than five years, they should generally have not been absent from the UK for more than six months in total in any 12-month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12-month period.
Once a person has been continuously resident in the UK for five years, they will be eligible for settled status where, since completing that period of residence, they have not been absent from the UK for more than five consecutive years. This is in contrast with the current criteria under EU law which only allows two consecutive years before status is lost as well as current criteria for ILR under the Immigration rules, which also lapses after two years.
- A single period of absence of more than six months but which does not exceed 12 months is permitted, where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.
- Any period of absence on compulsory military service is permitted.
In some cases, it is possible to acquire status in less than 5 years, such as:
- When a person who had been working or self-employed in the UK retires
- When a person who was working or self-employed is permanently incapacitated
- Family members of people in situations described above.
REFSee Special cases for full details.
Periods of imprisonment
Continuity of residence is broken where a person has served, or is serving, a sentence of imprisonment of any length in the UK, unless the person has resided in the UK continuously for at least 10 years and has the right of permanent residence under the EEA Regulations. Additionally, the Home Office must consider that they had forged integrating links with the UK which were not broken. Otherwise, imprisonment resets the clock and residence restarts from scratch upon release, provided this is before 31 December 2020.