A summary of the absences under the EUSS

Migrants, who are holding Pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) should not be absent from the UK for more than 6 months in total (in a single period of absence or multiple ones) in any rolling 12-months period, throughout the 5 years they wish to rely upon when applying for Settled status.

However, there are some exceptions: for instance, an absence over 6 months is permitted for an ‘important reason’, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

In addition, individuals are allowed to have been absent from the UK for a single period of up to 12 months because of COVID-19 for instance:

  • If they were ill with COVID-19;
  • If they had to be in-quarantine, self-isolate or shield in accordance with the local public health guidance on COVID-19;
  • Caring for a family member affected by COVID-19;
  • Prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by COVID-19;
  • Advised by their university that, due to COVID-19, their course was moved to remote learning and they were advised or allowed to return to their home country to study remotely;
  • Advised by their university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from their home country;
  • Absent from the UK for another reason relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. they left or remained outside the UK because there were fewer COVID-19 restrictions elsewhere; they preferred to work or run a business from home overseas; or they would have been unemployed in the UK and preferred to rely on support from family or friends overseas.

This means that applicants can rely on any COVID-19 related reason as being an ‘important reason’, which would allow an absence of up to 12 months.

What if your absence exceeds 12 months?

Migrants, who are holding Pre-settled status and who have been absent for an ‘important reason’, are ALSO able to exceed a single period of absence of up to 12 months and still not break their continuous qualifying period of residence if because of a COVID-19 related reason:

  • The person is ill with COVID-19;
  • The person is in quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with local public health guidance on COVID-19;
  • The person is caring for a family member affected by COVID-19;
  • The person is prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption caused by COVID-19;
  • The person is advised by their university or employer not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from their home country, due to COVID-19.

However, the period exceeding the 12 months will not count towards residence in the UK. As a result, an individual might be short of 5 years by the expiry of their Pre-settled status. They might be able to apply for another period of Pre-settled status prior to they can complete the continuous qualifying period for the eligibility of the Settled status application under the EUSS if they were in the UK before 31 December 2020.

Second absence of up to 12 months for an important reason

If a migrant has already been absent for a period of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’, and now has the second absence for a period of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’, and one of those absences is because of COVID-19, their continuous qualifying period of residence might not be broken.

However, their absence in that second period beyond a maximum of the first 6 months will not be counted as residence in the UK. The migrant’s continuous qualifying period of residence will be paused from the point the second period of absence for an ‘important reason’ reached 6 months (or the point at which they had been absent for more than 6 months in any 12-month period), with their continuous qualifying period then resuming from the point they returned to the UK.

Can you apply for a Pre-settled status extension under the EUSS?

Those who left the UK for more than 6 months and broke their continuous residence but returned the UK before 31 December 2020, will be able to apply for Pre-settled status extension, and this will allow them to complete 5 years’ continuous residence and qualify for Settled-status application under the EUSS.

Individuals who broke their continuous residence in the UK but returned the UK after 31 December 2020, will not be able to apply for pre-settled status extension. Therefore, they will either leave the UK prior to the expiry date of their current leave, or apply for a permission to stay in the UK under other visa categories.

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of the UK visa application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075.

The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.


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