New EU Settlement Scheme guidance with Covid-19 concessions re: qualifying period

On 10th June 2021 the Home Office released new guidance with concessions for EU nationals:

An EEA citizen who has been absent from the UK and Islands (or, where applicable under Appendix EU, the UK) for a single period of up to 12 months because of COVID-19 is also permitted, under this guidance, to rely on that absence as being for an ‘important reason’ under the definition of ‘continuous qualifying period’.

Where this section says “because of COVID-19”, it includes where an EEA citizen has been:

• 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 COVID19 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 the applicant can rely on any COVID-19 related reason (including where they chose to leave or remain outside the UK because of the pandemic) as being an ‘important reason’ permitting an absence of up to 12 months. This is a non-exhaustive list of such reasons and each case must be considered on an individual basis in light of the information and evidence provided by the applicant.

First published: 14 June 2021