This is a short guide for EU nationals and their family members living in the UK who want to do something about protecting their status as we head for Brexit.
- What can EEA nationals (and their family members) residing in the UK do ahead of Brexit?
There has been no immediate change to your rights or status in the UK as a result of the referendum. But now is a good time to take steps to protect your position.
- How can I help protect my status in the UK?
It is advisable to get yourself a Residence card or Permanent Residence card. The reason is that those who can prove a right of residence are perhaps more likely to benefit from whatever transitional arrangements the government puts in place to protect the legal status of EEA nationals and their family members who are already in the UK.
So if you have not already, you should apply to the Home Office for documentation to prove your entitlement to reside in the UK.
You may acquire the right to Permanent Residence in the UK if you are:
An EEA national who has resided in the UK continuously for a period of 5 years; or
A non-EEA family member who has resided lawfully with an EEA national in the UK for a period of 5 year
Subject to you being able to demonstrate you have been exercising your treaty rights for the last 5 years
Each application costs £65.
Without a Permanent residence card you cannot apply for British citizenship, if you intend to go down that route
- What if I have been absent from the UK at various times during the 5-year period?
Your continuity of residence will only be broken by temporary absences of more than 6 months in each year. Longer absences may be permitted, but only for certain specific reasons.
Once you have acquired the right of Permanent Residence, it can only be lost by an absence from the UK of over 2 consecutive years.
- I have been living in the UK for less than 5 years. What should I do?
You can apply for a Registration Certificate if you are an EEA national and you are a ‘qualified person’ (either a worker, job-seeker, self-employed, a student or self-sufficient person).
Family members of a qualified person can apply for a Residence Card
- What do I need to do to prepare my application?
Before you apply, make sure you prepare your evidence carefully.
If you are applying for a Permanent Residence document, you need to show the Home Office proof that you and/or your family members and your sponsor have resided in the UK continuously for 5 years.
No single piece of evidence is conclusive.
The Home Office recommends that the documents should be spread evenly throughout the 5 years and come from a variety of sources.
If you have not been keeping hold of copies of relevant documents, you should start doing. For example, this includes your payslips, P45s, P60s, utility bills, records of any public funds you have claimed (ie. Job Seekers Allowance, child benefit or tax credit, etc.), tenancy agreements or mortgage statements. If you are missing items in a series of documents, you may need to request the copies from the relevant organisations.
If you receive bank statements in online/electronic format only, you will need to ask your bank to stamp each page with their official stamp.
You must send original documents only.
- How much detail do I need to provide in my application about my or my sponsor’s activities in the UK?
As part of the application, you should submit:
a chronological narrative of how you / your family members / your sponsor have spent your time in the UK;
a full travel history.
Your narrative can be brief but in order to avoid delays to your application, you should cover all relevant details. It is possible for you to qualify for Permanent Residence if your activities during the 5 year period have crossed-over different categories. For example, if you were a student for several years, then a job seeker and then an employee you could count time spent in those three different categories towards the 5 years.
The requirements for students and self-sufficient persons are much wider. Importantly, both require proof of comprehensive sickness insurance.
Your travel history should include the date you first entered the UK and details of all absences from the UK since you entered (ie. dates and durations).
- Can I apply online?
Yes you can, unless you are:
a family member or extended family member of a qualifying person; ora student or self-sufficient person who is either:
reliant upon a family member for financial support or
financially supports any other family members;
But you would still need to send the application in the post with your original documentation.
- Do I need to send my passport to the Home Office while my application is processed?
If you do not have a valid national ID card that you can send to the Home Office instead of your passport, you will need to submit your passport to support your application.
Some local authorities are offering a European passport return service for EEA nationals applying for a Registration Certificate or Permanent Residence document. You need to take your passport and application to specific local authority offices who will check and photocopy your passport, immediately return it to you and then forward all the documents to the Home Office on your behalf.
Bearing in mind that the Home Office is currently dealing with a larger volume of applications than usual and longer waiting times are expected, this new service should make it easier for EEA nationals who do not have valid ID cards and who have to travel while awaiting the outcome of their applications.
The service is not offered to non-EEA nationals. It is available by appointment only and you have to attend your appointment within 5 working days of submitting your online form.
- What if I would like to become a British citizen?
Normally, you need to have lived in the UK for 6 years in order to use your Permanent Residence document to naturalise as a British citizen.
So if you have only lived in the UK for 5 years, you must wait for a further 12 months after obtaining your Permanent Residence document before you can apply to naturalise.
However, if your spouse is a British national, you can apply for British citizenship as soon as you have your Permanent Residence document.
There are two crucial issues to be aware of:
UK law permits British citizens to hold dual nationality. Some countries do not. You may need advice from a lawyer familiar with the citizenship laws to advise you on whether naturalisation as a British citizen would result in you losing your previous nationality. This is particularly relevant for non-EEA family members;
When an EEA national naturalises as a British citizen (and becomes a dual citizen), any EU free movement rights held by their non-EEA family members will be lost and they will therefore have no lawful immigration status in the UK at that point.
- My case is complex – can you help with my application?
At BRPartners Immigration Advice and Services, we are able to help you. You can contact us by telephone on 01474 357091 or 07716 054420 to book a consultation. Or email us at email@example.com. We are also on Facebook and offer FaceTime & Skype consultations.