What is Permanent Residence?
If you are a European Economic Area (EEA) national, you possess the right to live, work and study in the UK. As a result, you can travel to the UK without having to apply for a visa.
With this in mind, being an EEA national enables you to circumvent the complexities of applying for leave to remain via the Points-Based System (PBS) or other visa categories. However, there are some circumstances in which an EEA national will be required to demonstrate their right to work/reside in the UK.
To demonstrate this, an individual can apply for an EEA Registration Certificate. This states that one possesses the legal right to live, work and study in the UK. It is not a legal necessity to possess a registration certificate. However, it is a statement of your rights and confirms your ability to access services reserved for UK residents. The certificate is valid for five years, after which time you will be eligible to apply for EEA Permanent Residence.
Possessing permanent residence means that you can remain in the UK indefinitely, and use the full range of benefits afforded to British citizens.
Do I satisfy the eligibility requirements for EEA Permanent Residence?
In order to be eligible for EEA Permanent Residence, it is crucial that you have been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for five years. Being a resident for this period of time will enable you to remain in the UK regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
It is also vitally important that you have exercised your Treaty Rights during this timeframe. Your Treaty Rights must have been exercised through employment, self-employment or studying.
One of the following criteria must also be satisfied:
- You are the family member of a British citizen who was either employed or self-employed in an EEA state before returning to the UK
- You are considered an EEA ‘Qualified Person’. This means that you are employed, self-employed, self-sufficient, a student or a job-seeker.
- You are either a direct family member or extended family member of an EEA Qualified Person or person with permanent residence.
- You are the former family member of an EEA national and you retained your right of residence after the EEA national died or left the UK, or after your marriage or civil partnership came to an end.
What is an EEA Registration Certificate?
If you are an EEA national that has been living in the UK for less than the five years needed to apply for EEA Permanent Residence, you can apply for an EEA Residence Card.
Holding a residence card is not a legal requirement, however it does bring a number of benefits. It states that you are entitled to receive benefits and services that are exclusive to UK residents. Further to this, holding a registration certificate will make transitioning to EEA Permanent Residence a smoother process.
It is also useful for those that wish to bring family members to the UK. This is because it can be used in when applying for an EEA Family Permit as a means of supporting a family member’s application.
The EEA Registration Certificate is also a good option for EEA nationals who are worried about the status as a UK resident due to Brexit. The certificate lasts for five years, meaning that holders are able to apply for permanent residence once it runs out. With this in mind, the certificate is a way of guaranteeing an individual’s right to remain in the UK post Brexit.
What is the best way to apply for EEA Permanent Residence?
If you are an EEA citizen and wish to remain in the UK on a permanent basis, you will need to apply for permanent residence. There are two ways that this can be done. You can either complete and submit the 85-page paper form, or apply online.
Not all individuals will be able to apply using the online application. If you identify with any of the following criteria, you will be unable to use the online form.
- You are a family member of a qualifying EEA national and are not applying at the same time as them.
- You are a student or a self-sufficient individual who is financially responsible for other family members, or are reliant on a member of your family for financial assistance.
- You are applying on the basis of having retained your rights.
- The application you are making falls under the ‘Surinder Singh’ category.
All other applicants are able to use the online form when applying for EEA Permanent Residence. This includes Swiss nationals.
What documentation will I require in order to apply for EEA Permanent Residence?
The documents that need to be submitted as part of a permanent residence application vary depending on the unique circumstances of the individual applying.
However, all applicants should expect to submit the following:
- Proof that you are a UK resident. This can take the form of a utility bill, a council tax letter, an NHS letter or mortgage documents. It can also be proved via evidence of UK-based employment, such as pay slips.
- Proof of identification, such as a valid passport or other travel documentation.
- Other immigration documentation. This includes your EEA Registration Certificate.
- Past EEA Permanent Residence proof (in situations where a renewal is being applied for).
- Proof of your relationship to your sponsor. This can take the form of birth/adoption certificates, or marriage/civil partnership documentation.
For the full list of documents that may be required, see section 18 of the form.
Is biometric information required when applying for permanent residence?
When you apply for EEA Permanent Residence, you will need to submit your biometric information as part of the process. This takes the form of a digital photograph, your signature and your fingerprints.
You can obtain your biometric information at a number of different post office branches. It costs £19.20.
All applications for EEA Permanent Residence will be required to provide biometric information of some form.
It is not necessary for those under the age of six to provide their fingerprints or signature, however it is necessary to provide a digital photograph.
Those above the age of six will be required to provide all three components of biometric information.
I am eligible to apply using the online form. What are its benefits?
If your circumstances are such that applying for permanent residence via the online form is permissible, it has a number of benefits.
The online form differs from the paper version in that it only asks you questions that are relevant to you and your situation. It is hugely important that you have all necessary information and documentation, as you will have to answer a number of questions before proceeding. The purpose of this structure is so that the form can be tailored to you.
A further benefit of applying online is that your local authority can check your passport. It will then be returned to you using the European Passport Return Service. To be eligible for this service, it is necessary for you to attend an appointment within five days of your application being submitted. With this in mind, it is advised that you book the appointment first and then submit the application in accordance with this date.
Will I need to declare any criminal convictions when I apply for permanent residence in the UK?
In order for EEA Permanent Residence to be granted, it is important that you satisfy the ‘Good Character’ requirement. This means that you do not have any previous criminal convictions or immigration-related offences or breaches.
It is vital that you give details of any convictions when you complete the form.
The Home Office will take all previous offences into account when deciding whether or not to grant your application.
It is not relevant where or when the offence took place, nor is it relevant how major or minor the offence was.
Financial issues such as bankruptcy or unpaid bills/taxes can also prevent you from proceeding with your application.
What is meant by ‘qualifying activities’ when applying for permanent residence?
In order to be deemed eligible for permanent residence, it is important to demonstrate that you have participated in qualifying activities during your time in the UK.
You have been involved in a qualifying activity if you have been:
- A student
- A job-seeker
- Self-sufficient (with sickness insurance)
It is permissible for you to have been in one or several of these categories during your time in the UK. You may have initially been employed by an organisation when you arrived, but moved into self-employed work during the five-year qualifying period.
Will I need to sit the Life in the UK test in order to be granted EEA residence?
When applying for Permanent Residence, it is not necessary that you pass the Life in the UK test.
It is however necessary if you apply for British citizenship once permanent residence has been granted. To this end, it is possible to apply to take the test now if you intend to naturalise 12 months after permanent residence has been granted.
If passed, your certificate can be used as supporting documentation when applying for citizenship.
I have not been living in the UK for five years. How should I proceed?
If you are an EEA national and have been resident in the UK for less than the five years needed to be eligible for EEA Permanent Residence, you can apply for an EEA Registration Certificate.
It is not essential that you possess this card in order to live and work in the UK. However, possessing a certificate will secure your ability to remain in the UK regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
The certificate is valid for five years, after which point you will be able to apply for EEA Permanent Residence.
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At present, it costs £65 to apply for EEA Permanent Residence. This is the price per applicant. As a result, you will need to pay an additional £65 for each additional family member that is included on your application.
Applications for EEA Permanent Residence are usually processed within six months of the form and supporting documentation being submitted. Due to the events surrounding Brexit, there is currently a high demand for the service. As a result of this, processing times may be longer than usual. Recent applicants have reported waiting between two/three months and seven/eight months.
If you are an EEA national that has successfully been granted permanent residence, you are entitled to apply for British citizenship.
You must hold permanent residence for 12 months before proceeding with this.
Our London immigration lawyers are immensely experienced in assisting with applications for EEA permanent residency. We will sit down with you to assess your options and next steps. If you choose to proceed with your application, we will guide you through each step. We do everything possible to maximise your chances of approval.
Our legal team will:
- Maintain frequent contact with the Home Office throughout the process
- Prepare a Letter of Representation to accompany your application, drawing attention to relevant immigration laws in support of your case
- Complete your application form to the highest possible standard
- Conduct a thorough documentation check to ensure that all necessary paperwork is in place
- Determine your eligibility for EEA residence
- Determine whether or not you are eligible for alternative routes, such as the Surinder Singh or Zambrano route
- Liaise with you in person, over the phone, or via Skype