EU nationals and permanent residence

MortonFraser_Stuart McWilliams
Stuart McWilliams
25 August 2016

When the UK voted to leave the EU I wrote an article about the possible implications for immigration, and in that I mentioned EU nationals already living in the UK could apply for confirmation that they held a permanent right of residence. In the two months since the referendum we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of clients looking to make this type of application to the Home Office, so we thought it would be useful to provide a summary of the process and common issues.

What is permanent residence and why is it important?

Permanent residence is a status acquired by an EU national who lives in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. It is an automatic right to remain and can only be lost if someone is outside the UK for 2 years.

Confirming that someone holds a right of permanent residence has increased in importance since 2015 as it is now the first step in an EU national applying for British citizenship, and those with a right of permanent residence are likely to benefit from increased protection when the UK formally leaves the EU.

How does someone get permanent residence

Permanent residence is an automatic right. It does not require the Home Office or any Government body to grant it and a person acquires it by operation of law. Once an EU national has lived in the UK for 5 years, in accordance with the relevant regulations, they automatically become permanent residents. However, if someone wants to prove they have a right of permanent residence or become a British citizen then they must apply to the Home Office for confirmation of their status.

Applications cost £65 and, although there is no required form, it is best practice to apply on Form EEA (PR).

How long does the application process take?

Applications can take up to 6 months to be processed and require a great deal of supporting evidence. It is only possible to apply by post; it is not possible to apply in person and there is not a 'same day service' option available.

It is necessary to submit an original form of national identity with your application, such as a passport or a national identity card.  If you would prefer to retain your passport to allow you to travel overseas, it is worth considering whether you can submit your national identity card with your application instead of your passport.  If you do not hold a national identity card, you may consider approaching your national embassy to make enquiries about whether you are eligible for one if keeping hold of your passport is important to you.

What can go wrong?

Although the process of proving that someone has lived in the UK for 5 years may seem straightforward there are numerous pitfalls for these applications, for example:

  • Proving residence was lawful. EU nationals can live in the UK as long as they are working, studying, self employed, seeking work or self sufficient. Someone can acquire permanent residence through combining these categories but any gaps can cause difficulties;
  • Medical Insurance. Some categories require the individual to hold private medical insurance, and, any period where this is not held, can prevent someone from becoming permanently resident;
  • Lack of evidence. The Home Office requires detailed evidence to support applications and we have been consulted by individuals who submitted applications themselves but were refused due to providing the wrong evidence. As the appeals process is lengthy this often requires a fresh application.

How can we help?

We are specialists in this type of application and our expert team can offer a range of fixed fee support packages including:

  • Completing the EEA PR form on your behalf or reviewing forms completed  by you;
  • Reviewing the supporting evidence and suggesting additional evidence that should be provided to the Home Office;
  • Submitting applications to the Home Office along with detailed covering letters.

All of our support is tailored to individual cases and is designed to give you the best chance of success. If you would like to discuss how we can help with your permanent residence application please get in touch for a free, no obligation, discussion.


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