On 6 December 2018 the Government confirmed that the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to operate whether the UK leaves the European Union with or without a negotiated deal. This ensures that the rights of EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK before it leaves the EU will be protected in every outcome.
Those granted settled status under the scheme will retain that status for life, unless they allow their leave to lapse by being absent from the UK and the Islands (the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man) for a period of more than five years, or that status is revoked or cancelled, for example as a result of serious criminality.
The Home Office estimates that the total number of EEA and Swiss citizens (excluding Irish citizens) eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by the end of the planned implementation period on 31 December 2020 is likely to be between 3.5 million and 4.1 million.
As set out in the revised Impact Assessment for the scheme, the estimate is based on a number of assumptions as to how the size of the resident EEA population will change over the period, and on an initial estimate that 3.4 million EEA and Swiss citizens (excluding Irish citizens) were resident in the UK in the year October 2017 to September 2018. Therefore, the figure should be considered indicative as future migration flows can be affected by many factors and are difficult to predict. The revised Impact Assessment can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukia/2019/74/pdfs/ukia_20190074_en.pdf
We are working extensively with a range of stakeholders to ensure that all those who are eligible to apply do so by the deadline of 30 June 2021 for those resident in the UK by the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020 (or, in a no deal scenario, by 31 December 2020 for those resident in the UK by exit). We have made clear that we will take a proportionate approach to anyone who misses the deadline and will make provision for those who have reasonable grounds for doing so to apply after the deadline. Those who apply before the deadline but whose application is not decided until after the deadline will have all their rights protected until their application is concluded.