COVID-19: EUSS guidance update

On 10 June 2021, the Home Office updated the EUSS absence policy, it confirmed that it would allow for a single absence of up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’ during the continuous qualifying period of 5 years generally required for settled status included where an EEA migrant could not return to the UK due to the COVID-19 related reason.

However, individuals will need to upload additional evidence of their UK residence and submit evidence to explain how COVID-19 affected ability to return to the UK within the absence otherwise permitted under the EUSS.

Continuous qualifying period of residence

Migrants who are applying under the EUSS must have been resident in the UK prior to 23:00 on 31 December 2020 (except in the case of a joining family member of a relevant sponsor or of certain family members of a qualifying British citizen), and must not have been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in total (in a single period of absence or more than one) in any 12-month period.

An exception to the requirement above would be permissible if such absence is for an ‘important reason’, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

An EEA citizen who has been absent from the UK for a single period of up to 12 months due to COVID-19 is also permitted, for instance if:

  • Ill with COVID-19;
  • In quarantine, self-isolating or shielding in accordance with 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.

However, migrants will need to provide evidence of the length of, and reason for, any absence in relation to COVID-19, for example:

  • Used travel tickets confirming the dates the applicant left the UK and returned;
  • Confirmation of flight cancellations detailing the dates and times;
  • Doctor’s letter confirming the applicant contracted COVID-19;
  • Doctor’s letter confirming the applicant was identified as vulnerable and advised to shield;
  • Email or letter confirming the applicant, or a person they were living with, received a positive COVID-19 test result;
  • Official letter confirming the applicant was in COVID-19 quarantine;
  • Doctor’s letter confirming the applicant’s family member, for whom they have been caring, contracted COVID-19 or was identified as vulnerable and advised to shield;
  • Email or letter confirming the applicant’s family member, for whom they have been caring, received a positive COVID-19 test result;
  • Letter from a university advising 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;
  • Letter from a university or employer advising the applicant not to return to the UK, and to continue studying or working remotely from their home country, due to COVID-19;
  • Letter or other evidence from the applicant accounting for their absence 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.

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.


We remain open for business and can arrange meetings by phone call or video conferencing to advise and assist with any UK immigration matters.
Click here for further information regarding COVID-19