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Can I apply for settled status as the partner of an EU national?

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There is a lot of information available if you are an EEA national considering applying for pre-settled status or settled statusunder the EU Settlement Scheme but UK immigration solicitors are receiving enquiries from non-EEA and EEA partners of EU nationals asking about their right to stay in the UK after Brexit and the end of the transition period on the 31 December 2020. In this blog our Immigration solicitors we look at the rights of partners of EU nationals and the EU Settlement Scheme.

UK Immigration solicitors

If you have questions about your right to live in the UK and settled status and the EU Settlement Scheme call the immigration solicitors at London based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments can be arranged via video call, Skype or telephone.

Are you the partner of an EU national?

The question “Are you the partner of an EU national?’’ may seem a bit odd but not to a UK Immigration solicitor. When an immigration solicitor considers the question, they are looking at the UK Immigration rules on the definition of “partner” rather than your relationship.

To meet the eligibility criteria to apply for settled status as the partner of an EU national your relationship must:

  • Have been in existence before the 31 December 2020 and
  • Be durable.

The date of the 31 December 2020 is important as that is when free movement ended for EU nationals. That date is relatively clear cut but what is meant by “durable” as the word isn’t in common usage.

If you ask a group of people what “durable” means you will get many different answers but according to the Immigration rules durable means having lived together in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years.

That isn’t the end of the story though as the Home Office accept that a relationship suddenly doesn’t become durable because you have passed your two-year relationship anniversary. After all, if the two-year relationship rule was set in stone that would mean that cohabiting couples who have a child early on in their relationship aren’t in a durable or committed relationship until they pass the two-year mark.

To reflect the different types of relationship in today’s age, the Immigration rules say that you can also provide other significant evidence of a durable relationship. The Home Office guidance uses the example of joint responsibility for a child as other significant evidence of a relationship. Other examples aren’t provided. If you are concerned about whether or not your relationship is “durable” or not it is best to take specialist legal advice before applying for settled status. An Immigration solicitor can advise you on whether your relationship is likely to be classed as durable by the Home Office, the best evidence you need to provide in support of the application and any alternative Immigration routes available to you.

When does the relationship have to be durable?

Immigration solicitors say that it isn’t sufficient to say that you were in a relationship with an EU national as at the 31 December 2020 or that your relationship is akin to marriage and over two years in duration. Your relationship must also be durable at the date of the application for settled status. That means you can't have taken the decision to separate or divorce your partner.

Immigration solicitors appreciate that the timing of a relationship breakdown is outside your control but if you are worried about your relationship its best to get family law and Immigration law advice on your best options. That’s because there may be other Immigration routes available to you depending on the reasons for the relationship breakdown or if you have a child who is a British citizen or if you meet the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa.

Evidence of a durable relationship

You may wonder how easy it is to produce evidence of a durable relationship. Immigration solicitors say that the Home Office will accept evidence such as a permanent residence document or residence card.

If you don’t have this type of documentary evidence then other documents can be produced to prove that you were in a cohabiting relationship for at least two years before the 31 December 2020 (or other evidence of durable relationship) and evidence that your relationship is still durable (for example, evidence that you are still living together, such as a council tax bill). These routes to securing settled status as the partner of an EU national are more complicated so it is best to get legal advice on whether you qualify or not and what evidence you will need to produce.

For example, you may think that a marriage certificate is sufficient evidence of a durable relationship but if you only got married relatively recently you may be asked to produce evidence that your relationship was durable prior to the 31 December 2020. That may be relatively easy to establish, for example, by providing your child’s birth certificate if the child was born prior to your marriage.

Don’t despair but don’t delay

If you start to read the Home Office Immigration rules and guidance on making an application for settled status as the partner of an EU national it is easy to become confused by the complicated language and the various routes to settled status, depending on whether you have a permanent residence card or not. The best advice is not to let the complicated rules on durable relationships confuse you and put you off taking action and applying for settled status. That’s because there are time limits for applications and, for a whole variety of reasons, it is best that your right to live and work in the UK, based on your relationship with an EU national, is documented.

UK Immigration solicitors

London based OTS Solicitors can answer your EU Settlement Scheme questions and look at your immigration options. For the best advice on entry clearance to the UK call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conference, Skype or by telephone appointment.

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