If you have pre-settled status, you will need to apply for settled status before your pre-settled status expires.

You will not obtain settled status automatically.

You will need to make a new application to obtain settled status.

For pre-settled status

Have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
You only need one item of evidence of residence in the last six months.
Pre-settled status is valid for 5 years from the date you get it.
You can apply to change this to settled status once you’ve got 5 years’ continuous residence, at any time, previous periods of residence are not lost.
You need to wait at least 70 days from date you obtained pre-settled status, to upgrade to settled status.
If you’ll have 5 years’ continuous residence before 30 December 2020, you can choose to wait to apply until you reach 5 years’ continuous residence.

For settled status

Have lived in the UK for a continuous 5 year period.
Continuous residence means spending at least 6 months out of every 12, in the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
A single period of up to 12 months abroad for an important reason, such as childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting is allowed.
It may be possible to acquire settled status in less than 5 years in special circumstances.

See: Settled status is less than 5 years.

Exceptions

compulsory military service of any length
time spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
time spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces.

Continuity of residence in the UK is broken when serving a sentence of imprisonment.
Source: Written questions and answers - Written questions, answers and statements - UK Parliament

For family members

Close family members from outside the EU/EEA can count time spent on a visa under the UK Immigration Rules, such as Tier 2 or Tier 4, towards settled status, as long as the relationship existed and both family members were residing in the UK throughout the 5 year period relied on. For spouses, this means having been married throughout the whole period.

Extended family members can only count periods of residence under the EEA Regulations, i.e. when they had an EEA family Permit or a Residence Card, they cannot count periods spent on other visas.

Leaving the UK after getting pre-settled status

It is very important for people with pre-settled status, to make sure they maintain continuity of residence, by spending at least 6 months out of every 12, in the UK.

People who do not maintain their residence will not be able to obtain settled status when their pre-settled status expires, 5 years after it was granted, and will need to either leave the UK or find an alternative route under the immigration rules, which won't be an option for most people.

See: Absences and residence for people with pre-settled status for full details.

Leaving the UK after getting settled status

If you have settled status, you should be able to spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status.

If you’re a Swiss citizen, you and your family members can spend up to 4 years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status.

A visit to the UK should reset the 5 year clock. The rules do not specify how long that visit must be, it doesn’t matter how long the visit is, it could be a single night, as long as it can be evidenced, however, lawyers recommend a longer visit if possible, i.e. a week rather than just an overnight stay.

It is very important to ensure you have suitable evidence of returning to the UK that can be provided to show you have not lost your settled status. This could be:
  • UK border passport stamps, for those whose passports get stamped, currently just non EEA nationals. Bear in mind some consulates do not return old passports when renewing them, so it's important to have alternative evidence if this is the case.
  • Used travel tickets, with boarding passes to show they've been used. As most are electronic these days, make sure you save a screenshot of the electronic boarding pass generated by your airline's app, as the apps may not store them forever.
  • Evidence of booking and paying for, accommodation in the UK: hotels, B&Bs, airbnb, etc.
  • Bank and credit card statements showing physical transactions in UK establishments such as high street shops, bars, restaurants, etc. and UK cashpoint withdrawals. Try to make some transactions while in the UK even if staying with family or friends.
If you have obtained settled status and wish to be free to spend long period abroad without losing status, you should consider applying for British citizenship.

If you are not married to a British citizen, you will need to wait 12 months from the date you were granted settled status, to apply.

See: Naturalisation.
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