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With the registration for EU nationals to remain in the UK to live and work coming to a close in less than 10 days’ time, the Home Office recently released new guidance for EEA citizens and their families/dependents who are eligible but haven’t applied yet due to unintentional absences caused by the pandemic.

Although this will probably not affect EEA citizens who meet the five-year continuous qualifying period under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), it is great news for those who could only apply for Pre- Settled status but had to leave the UK for long periods due to the pandemic.


Pre-settled status was set up for EU nationals who do not meet the “five-year continuous stay in the UK requirement”. Under the rules, if you are absent for more than six months over a one-year period and did not return to the UK before 31st December 2020, you could possibly lose the right to upgrade to settled status or register on the EUSS. However, the pandemic has changed that, and the UK government have considered and responded to this.

In summary, The Home Office will consider the circumstances in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic below which includes but is not limited to :

Absence Concession
Absences of six months and not exceeding 12 months

If you did not intend to be absent from the UK for more than six months in a 12-month period due to the pandemic, your residency will not be considered broken.

Your circumstances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and you must evidence that the reason for your absence is related to the pandemic.

Single absence of up to 12 months 

For reasons such as:

·     being ill with COVID-19;

·     being in quarantine or self-isolation or shielding in line with local government guidance;

·     caring for a family member affected by COVID-19;

·     being prevented from returning earlier to the UK due to travel disruption or restriction;

·     if you are a student and your course was moved to remote learning and being advised or permitted to return to your home country to study remotely;

·     being advised by your university or employer not to return to the UK and to study or work remotely from your home country; and

·     being absent from the UK for another reason relating to the pandemic e.g. if you left the UK because there were fewer pandemic-related restrictions elsewhere, or if you preferred to work or run a business from home outside the UK, or if you were unemployed in the UK at that time, and preferred to rely on support from family or friends abroad.

Single absence of more than 12 months 

The policy states that an EU national who has had a single absence from the UK for more than 12 months for an important reason, may still be eligible to apply under the EUSS if the pandemic prevented you from returning within the 12-month period.

This period of absence of more than 12 months will be considered a “pause” in the qualifying period required for settlement. However, the Home Office will review and assess your application on a case by case basis as it must be properly evidenced and justifiable.

Second absence of 6-12 months

This applies to individuals who have already been absent from the UK for 12 months, and then has a second period exceeding 6 months in any 12-month period. The reason for your absence must be related or due to the pandemic Before your continuity of residence is not considered to have been broken.

Your application under these circumstances will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the Home Office.


All applicants must provide evidence for the reasons of absence. Without this, your application could be refused. Evidence could be your travel information including air tickets or cancellation notices from your travel company, official letters from your employers or university advising you not to return to the UK or to work or study remotely from home, a doctor’s letter to confirm that you contracted coronavirus or had to undergo mandatory shielding or quarantine.

It is important to remember that the deadline of 30th June 2021 for EUSS registration still remains. Therefore, it is imperative that all applications are submitted before this date.

Please contact us for guidance on obtaining evidence which will support your application. The Home Office will review every application on a case-by-case basis.


Bee has more than 18 years’ experience in UK immigration and nationality law and has been advising businesses that have been expanding into the UK or growing their UK presence or workforce.