Apply for Permanent Residence

Applying for permanent residence remains an option for EEA nationals wanting to naturalise as British citizens.

We can help with your application.

Applying for Permanent Residence?

In the UK, EEA nationals and their family members, who engage in qualifying activities for a continuous period of five years, will automatically qualify for UK permanent residence.

Applying for a UK permanent residence card will act as evidence that you have attained this status.

While EU citizens in the UK are now required to apply for settled status, many opt to make an application for a permanent residence card with a view to making it easier to evidence their eligibility and UK residency to naturalise as a British citizen.  

The process of applying for a permanent residence document can be demanding on applicants, requiring strict eligibility criteria to be met and extensive supporting documentation to be submitted.

What are the permanent residence requirements?

​Eligibility for UK permanent residence and the corresponding permanent residence card is reliant on an EEA national having lived continuously in this country for 5 years while exercising their Treaty rights.

​Treaty rights cover the following categories:

Qualifying activity Requirements
WorkerYou satisfy this Treaty right category if you have been employed by a business or organisation in the UK, or have become unemployed but meet certain requirements, for 5 continuous years.
Job seekerA job seeker is actively looking for employment in the UK and likely to gain such employment.
Self-employedA self-employed person works for themselves, whether on a sole trader basis, freelance, or through owning a company or being involved in a corporate partnership.
Self-sufficientTo meet the requirements of this category, you must have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without help from the UK benefits system.
StudentIn this context, a student must be enrolled in an educational course with an establishment that is registered on the DFES Register of Education and Training Providers.

The different qualifying activities can be combined together to establish five continuous years of exercising Treaty Rights.

Leaving the UK, or ceasing to engage in a qualifying activity for a period of less than six months, will not typically extinguish a Treaty Right.

Workers who are unemployed but are actively seeking work may, in certain circumstance, also be considered to be continuing to engage in a qualifying activity during this period.

In limited cases, under Article 17 of the Citizens’ Directive, workers or self employed persons may be eligible for permanent residence before five years, where they have stopped work because of retirement, incapacitation, or where they have taken work in another Member State, while continuing to reside in the UK.

There are also some situations where an EEA member can exercise ‘Surinder Singh’ Treaty Rights in the UK while residing in their home country.

You may also be eligible for a UK permanent residence card if you have lived with a qualifying EEA national continuously for 5 years in this country.

What evidence will you need to show to apply for permanent residence?

It is not enough to claim that you have been lawfully and continuously resident in the UK for the qualifying 5 year period. Evidence will be required to support your application for a permanent residence card.

The evidence required as part of a permanent residence application depends on which qualifying activities the EEA national has participated in. While the EEA(PR) guidance notes published by the Home Office provide some direction as to the documentation that should be provided, it is not fully prescriptive or exhaustive as to what should be included with the application.

Any periods of time during the qualifying 5 years when you were not exercising a Treaty right must be outlined and explained in your application.

Evidence of working
Employment may be either part time or full time in order to qualify for a permanent residence card, as long as it is ‘genuine and effective’ employment.

The EEA (PR) guidance notes recommend that applicants provide:


Evidence of working
A letter from each employer confirming the dates of employment, wages, normal hours of work, and the reason the employment ended;
Wage slips and/or bank statements; and
P60s for each year of employment.
If for any reason the above documents cannot be provided the guidance notes recommend enclosing a letter of explanation with addition evidence, such as P45s, a signed contract of employment, notice of redundancy, a letter accepting resignation or a letter of dismissal.

Evidence of job seeking 

In some circumstances, job seekers are also deemed to be exercising Treaty Rights, as long as they are considered to have ‘retained worker status’.

If an applicant’s five continuous years of Qualifying Activity includes a period of looking for work, the guidance notes recommend providing evidence of:

Evidence of job seeking
Registration as a jobseeker with a job centre or recruitment agency;
Copies of job applications;
Rejection letters;
Invitations to interviews; and
Professional qualifications, training or relevant work experience.

A person does not cease to be a worker because of an accident or illness temporarily prevents them from engaging in work.

Evidence of self-employment 

To prove that an EEA national has been engaged in the qualifying activity of self-employment, EEA nationals must be registered with HRMC for income tax and national insurance as a self-employed person.

Applicants should provide relevant income tax and national insurance documents for each financial year, VAT registration (if applicable), proof of earnings and proof that the business was actively trading for the entire period.

Additional evidence is recommended if the business is a partnership, a limited company, or a franchise.

As with workers, if a self-employed person is temporarily unable to continue their work because of accident or injury, they will not immediately lose their Qualified Person status.

Evidence of study 

To be recognised as a student exercising Treaty Rights nations, an applicant for a permanent residence card must provide evidence demonstrating that they were enrolled in a course of study at a recognised education or training provider; and had sufficient funds to meet their living expenses;

Proof of enrolment should take the form of a letter from a school, college, university or training provider which confirms the course, term dates, qualification, whether the course was full or part-time and the details of any work placements.

So as not to place a financial burden on a host state, there is a further requirement for EEA nationals exercising their right to study in the UK to obtain comprehensive sickness insurance.

Proof of this insurance is required as further evidence of exercising the Treaty Right to study.

Evidence of economic self-sufficiency

Self-sufficient permanent resident card applicants must demonstrate that they have more than the maximum level of finance and resources for a UK national to qualify for social assistance.

The guidance notes recommend that permanent residence applicants provide one of the following:

Evidence of self-sufficiency 
Itemised bank statements;
Building society pass book;
Evidence of receipt of a pension;
Evidence of income from rental property;
Wage slips from lawful employment;
Evidence of a grant, scholarship or bursary (students only);
A declaration signed and dated by the relevant EEA national confirming they have sufficient financial resources (students only)

As with students, to exercise the right of self-sufficiency, permanent residence card applicants must also prove that they had comprehensive sickness insurance in place during the period of self-sufficiency.

Other supporting documents 

Photographs must be provided of you and any family member included in your application, along with a valid passport, national identity card or travel document for each person.

Depending on your individual circumstances, there may be other supporting documents that you are required to provide.

It may be necessary to prove your relationship to the qualifying EEA national, for instance, by providing a marriage certificate or your child’s birth certificate.

Where the EEA national has died, you will need to provide a death certificate.

Similarly, evidence of retirement will be required such as proof from your employer and details of your pension.

Non-EEA national family members will also have to provide biometric data in the form of fingerprints, photograph and signature.

Should I apply for permanent residence or EU settled status?

While EU citizens in the UK are now required to apply for settled status, many opt to apply for a permanent residence card with a view to evidencing their eligibility and UK residency for naturalisation. 


Are absences from the UK allowed?

Should you or anyone included in your application have spent more than 2 years outside the UK during the qualifying 5 year period, you may not be eligible for a permanent residence card.

Any absences from the UK of more than 6 months in total in any 12 month period must be entered on your application form if they were during the 5 year qualifying period.

If you have a criminal record, can you apply for permanent residence?

​Any criminal convictions, whether deemed to be ‘spent’ or not, must be disclosed on your application form under the Personal History section. Along with other information gathered under this section, these questions are asked so that the Home Office may decide whether the applicant is of ‘good character’. Failure to disclose criminal convictions, or to answer any other questions untruthfully will result in your application being refused.

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