It is free to apply. Most applicants are required to complete an online application form using a computer, tablet or smartphone. There are paper forms available from the Home Office if you are unable to complete the online form. It does not matter whether you use the online form or the paper form, either way the Home Office application checks three things: (1) your identity, (2) your residence in the UK and (3) any criminal record you may have.
The application asks for your basic information (name, nationality, contact details, national insurance number) and you have to confirm your identity and nationality using your passport (for applicants of all nationalities) or national ID card (if you are an EEA / Swiss applicant). To do this you have the following options:
- If you have a valid passport or national ID card with a biometric chip you are able to use the Home Office ID scanning App to send your identity information directly to the Home Office.
- If you do not have a passport and have a national ID card with no biometric chip, you will have to mail this to the Home Office for verification.
- If you have a passport or a national ID card with a biometric chip, but you do not have a newer Android or iPhone, you can go to one of the locations listed by the Home Office to scan your document.
As part of the application you have to upload a digital photo of yourself.
Residence in the UK
You have to prove your residence in the UK and the simplest way for many people to do so will be by providing your National Insurance Number (‘NiNo’). The application will check your NINO against the HMRC and DWP government department databases to see if you have been resident in the UK. These checks will only cover the past 6 YEARS and so if there are gaps in NINO records or you do not have a NINO (for example if you are under 16 years old), you may need to provide additional documents (such as utility bills or bank statements), to show that you are living in the UK. You can scan and upload your supporting documents during your online application. If you are applying for “Pre-Settled Status” because you have not lived in the UK for 5 years, then your ‘NiNo’ or documentary evidence must show that you have been living in the UK at some point in the last 6 months.
You will be asked about your criminal record. If you have only been convicted of a minor crime you will still be eligible for “Settled” or “Pre-Settled Status”. Any dishonest answer could have a negative impact on your application.
If your application is approved, you will be granted “Settled” or “Pre-Settled Status”, depending how long you have lived in the UK. You will get a confirmation email of your digital status. EU citizens will not be given an ID document to show their immigration status as you will also be able to access your online profile which shows which status you have. You can choose to share details of your online status with your employer, landlords, the NHS and the DWP. Please note EU citizens do not have to show they hold “Settled” or “Pre-Settled Status” before 31 December 2020 but you can choose to do so.