The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is a process to register EU, EEA and Swiss nationals living in the UK and to assign them either with settled or pre-settled status. These are new immigration statuses that confer the right to live and work in the UK after the transition period of the UK leaving the EU, when the right of free movement is to be revoked.

The timeline shows the cumulative total number of applications, by month. The Home Office releases updated numbers monthly.

The number of applications does not tell us how many individual people have applied. Some people have applied twice to the scheme: once when they had fewer than 5 years’ qualifying residence and received pre-settled status; a second time when they had passed the 5-year mark and had to apply again to upgrade to settled status.

As of April 2020, the Home Office has stated that, “Initial analysis of internal figures suggest that repeat applications currently represent less than 2% of applications received.”

As time goes by, this proportion will inevitably grow, making applications a less useful indicator of the number of individuals who have applied.

How many more need to apply?

In previous editions of this article, we compared the number of applications to the estimated population of EU/EEA nationals (minus Irish nationals) living in the UK in 2018.

This led to some estimates of the proportion that have applied that were hard to explain. For example, in January 2020, the number of applications from Bulgarians was around 155% of the estimated number of Bulgarians in the UK.

The ‘double-counting’ of repeat applications may be partly to blame. Bulgarians started migrating to the UK in large numbers from 2014 onwards, so it makes sense that five years on from this we would be seeing a large number of Bulgarians on the cusp of five years’ residence. They would be more likely to apply twice to the EUSS.

But it has also become clear that a snapshot of the population at one point in time no longer adequately captures the population who are eligible for the scheme.

The eligible population has kept growing because EU nationals have continued migrating to the UK since the scheme opened.

If we are to refine the population estimates even further then we can also include people who left the UK before the EUSS opened but who are still eligible to apply for it based on past continuous residence.

It is only possible to produce these new estimates for nationality groupings, rather than individual nationalities. These are shown in the charts below.

We can also use this data to update our estimates of the progress of the scheme by country within the UK, which are also shown below.

The formula for calculating these and the exact data sources used are included as a download at the end of this article.

In most cases, the EUSS requires applicants to scan their identity documents using the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ application which is currently available on Android devices and on iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. In the event that someone cannot scan their documents digitally, they can do so for a fee at one of 113 document scanning centres.

This interactive map shows the locations of document scanning centres across the UK. Scanning centres are shown as pink dots on the map and around each one is a shaded area showing a 30-minute walk, 30-minute drive, and 60-minute drive (one way) from the centre.

A map of the UK showing the location of document scanning centres for the EU Settlement Scheme.

About the settlement scheme

The EUSS exists because, in most cases, people residing in the UK based on rights derived from EU law will no longer have a legal right to reside in the UK once it leaves the EU. These individuals must apply for the new status. If they do not then they could be unlawfully resident in the UK in the future.

The main categories of people who must apply are:

  • EU (excluding Irish), EEA and Swiss citizens
  • Family members of an EU citizen who are not themselves British or EU citizens

A detailed explanation of who must apply can be found in the Library’s EU Settlement Scheme briefing.

Sources and notes

Notes to nationality chart: The error bars are based on a 95% confidence interval around the population estimate. Error bars cannot be calculated for EEA countries and Switzerland because we do not know the confidence interval of the combined population estimate. Luxembourg has no upper error bar because the lower estimate of the population is zero.

Notes to place of residence chart: There is some inaccuracy here, as the baseline population is EU (excluding Irish), EEA, and Swiss nationals, while the data on applications by part of the UK includes applications from all nationalities (including Irish and non-EU/EEA/Swiss). It is not possible to draw error bars because the confidence interval around this population estimate is unknown.

About the authors: Georgina Sturge is a Statistical Researcher specialising in social and general statistics at the House of Commons Library. Oliver Hawkins is a Data Science Lead at the House of Commons Library.

Image: brexit / airpix / CC BY 2.0