The result of the 2016 referendum had a lot of people feeling on edge for many different reasons, but some groups definitely had more substantial and tangible fears than others. Right near the top of this ‘stress pile’ lie the spouses of British citizens from EU countries.


Everyone, understandably, feared the worst. Assumptions were made about mass separation of families. Would husbands be separated from their wives? Who would be allowed to stay, and what proof would be required by the Home Office to grant leave to remain? It was a real whirlwind of uncertainty.


Well, now that the dust of the referendum result is finally starting to clear, we are happy to tell you that the vast majority of European spouses will find securing their right to stay in the UK pretty straight forward, not the absolute nightmare it was initially predicted to be.


So, where do European spouses stand?


Before the Brexit vote, most Europeans in the UK were not especially concerned with their legal standing in terms of their residence in the UK. The requirements would only become apparent to them when applying for residence documentation to confirm their right to live in the UK – but many people did not bother with this as it wasn’t something that was frequently chased up in previous years.


These requirements, unbeknownst to so many, were things like:


  • Being employed
  • Being a student
  • Being self-sufficient
  • Being married or related to someone in the UK


Once the Brexit vote happened, a lot of people realised they were not in keeping with some of these rules. Many of them had lived in the UK for years, even raising children who were themselves born in Britain. However, they didn’t qualify as ‘self-sufficient’ due to a lack of sickness insurance.


But some things changed after the vote:


After a lot of talk from politicians and much speculation from the public, it is now confirmed that all it takes for EU citizens to meet the requirements for settled status is for them to be living in the UK by the end of 2020. If the UK ends up leaving the EU without a deal the cut off will be Brexit day. They will also be subject to criminality checks, which is a standard precaution.


This means that employment status, self-sufficiency and medical insurance no longer play a part in achieving residence documentation and staying in the UK for European spouses.


Applicants who have lived in the UK for five years or more (by the end of 2020) will qualify for full settled status. This means they can only lose this status if they are absent from the UK for five consecutive years.


Those who have been here for fewer than five years will qualify for pre-settled status, upgrading to full settled status after they hit the five year mark.


How to apply:


The process starts with an initial enrolment through the government’s app, which will scan ID documents or read electronic versions of ID. This is followed by a short online form. Following the completion if this form, the applicant will be issued with electronic confirmation of their status.


Another positive is that the government has gotten rid of the £65 charge that this application was initially going to cost.


What documents need to be provided?


For those applying for pre-settled status, the only thing needed is a document dated to any time over the past 6 months. This can be:


  • A bank statement
  • A utility bill
  • An NHS letter
  • A travel ticket confirming entrance to the UK
  • Those applying for full settled status must show that they have lived in the UK for 6 out of 12 months of the year consistently for 5 years.


Stay at home spouses will find this quite hard to prove, but here is a link to the Home Office’s document example list – it seems that there are quite a lot of options available.


Some examples below:


  • annual bank statement or account summary, showing at least 6 months of payments received or spending in the UK
  • employer letter confirming employment and evidence that the employer is genuine, for example, their Companies House number
  • council tax bill
  • letter or certificate from your school, college, university or other accredited educational or training organisation showing the dates you enrolled, attended and completed your course
  • invoice for fees from your school, college, university or other accredited educational or training organisation and evidence of payment
  • document showing a UK address from a student finance body in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland or from the Student Loans Company
  • residential mortgage statement or rental agreement and evidence of payment
  • letter from a registered care home confirming your residence there
  • employer pension contributions
  • annual business account of a self-employed person
  • a P60 for a 12-month period – your P60 shows the tax you’ve paid on your salary in the tax year (6 April to 5 April). The Home Office may ask you for additional evidence to confirm that you were resident here for at least 6 months of that period.


So, we can safely say that despite the outcome of the EU referendum leaving a sour taste for a very large portion of the UK’s population, this new process for leave to remain for EU spouses can be seen as a positive rather than a negative and will hopefully help put some minds at ease.


If you have any questions about this topic, or any legal enquiries at all please do not hesitate to get on contact on 020 7928 0276 or email in to


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