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EU Settlement Scheme coronavirus policy relaxed


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On 10 June 2021 the Home Office reissued its guidance on coronavirus and the EU Settlement Scheme. Originally published in December 2020, it was withdrawn last month following a legal challenge. The new version is considerably more generous than the old.

In a nutshell, the guidance now allows for people with EU pre-settled status to be out of the UK for up to 12 months for “any coronavirus related reason” without breaking their continuous residence. This includes where they remain abroad by choice. Previously, the guidance only really catered for situations where the person was forced to remain outside the UK due to travel restrictions, quarantine or COVID-19 related health complications.

That stricter rule does make an appearance in the new guidance as well, but only where the absence is longer than 12 months. People in this position will need evidence that they were “prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK” by coronavirus. Whereas if the absence is less than 12 months, no evidence is needed beyond a letter simply saying “I chose to move back to Spain [or wherever] for a while because there were fewer lockdown restrictions there [or whatever the motivation might be]”.

We explain why absences are so important to people with pre-settled status in a couple of much more detailed articles, but those now need updating in light of the new guidance. We’re on the case, but wanted to flag the guidance change in time for the weekly newsletter.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.