EEA Permanent Residence FAQS


EEA Permanent Residence FAQs for EU citizens in the UK

Following the EU referendum, we have seen an increase in enquiries for UK permanent residence from EEA nationals considering their options to remain in Britain.

If you are an EU national and have lived in the UK for 5 years or more, you may consider whether you should apply for permanent residence as the mandatory step prior to being able to apply for British citizenship. Since this article was published, the Government has announced the introduction of a settlement scheme for EU nationals in the UK. Read more here about ‘settled status‘.

Below are a summary of the type of queries we have received from anxious EU citizens who have lived here for many years and are confused by the current political situation and what to do next.

EEA Permanent Residence FAQs

  • What is permanent residence?

Permanent residence is the same as Indefinite Leave to Remain. Once you have obtained permanent residence, you can continue living in the UK regardless of whether or not the UK votes to leave the EU.

  • My spouse and I are from Latvia and have lived here since 1998. We are frightened since Boris Johnson made news about England to leave. Do we have to wait for June to apply or can we do it now?

There is no need to wait, you can apply immediately. Once we have your full name and address, we will send over all details of the procedure, documents we will need you and your spouse to collate and we can aim to submit your application ASAP once you send the documents to us.

  • Do I need to pass Life in UK test before applying?

No. For the permanent residence application there is no legal requirement to do so, however if you wish to apply for naturalisation then you would be required to pass the Life in UK Test. It’s fairly straightforward with 24 multiple answer questions from the ‘Life in the UK Book’ and we always recommend our clients to prepare and take the test as soon as their permanent residence application has been submitted so they are ready to immediately apply for citizenship.

  • I have lived here for 4 years 5 months, can I apply now for permanent residence?

No, at the date of application, you need to prove at least 5 years residence in the UK. If you apply early, your application will be refused and you will not be refunded the Home Office application fee.

  • I moved to England in 1997 and now live in Scotland, can I apply?

Yes, you can apply, as Scotland is part of the United Kingdom.

  • I was working since 2000 and now I am on maternity leave for a short period, can I apply now for permanent residence?

Yes, you can apply

  • I have been in prison for 9 months and was released in 2013, can I apply for permanent residence?

The Home Office will review your entire residency in the UK and consider the nature and seriousness of your crime. It is imperative that you make full disclosure of your past activities, sentence etc.

  • I have had breaks in working but never claimed benefits, can I apply for permanent residence?

Yes, providing you can prove that during the periods of not working you were actively seeking work such as letters / emails to potential employers, CV and other job search related information, you can apply for permanent residence.

  • I am German, some forums say I cannot apply for dual nationality and others say I can, what is the answer?

First, applying for permanent residence is not the same as dual nationality. As a German national you can apply for permanent residence and may decide not to proceed and apply for British naturalisation, there are many people who hold permanent residence and decide not to bother with naturalisation. However, you can now apply for dual nationality as the restriction by the German government has been lifted as regards holding dual nationality of another EU country only.

  • I’m a Polish citizen, I have been living and working at UK since February 2004. My question is if I need proof of my permanent residence before I start applying for British passport?

Yes, since November 2015 you must apply for the grant of permanent residence before you can proceed onto a British passport application. But as you have lived here for more than 6 years, once your permanent application is approved you can apply immediately for naturalisation (i.e you don’t need to wait another year).

  • I wonder if you can help. I have lived in the UK for 20 years this January, 18 of which have been on an Italian Passport. However, I have been married to a British citizen for 16 years this year. I was wondering if there was by any chance any reduction in price when applying for my citizenship for the length of time I have lived and been married in the UK?

No unfortunately, the cost is the same. You need to apply for permanent residence first, and thereafter when you submit your citizenship application, pay the naturalisation fee. Home Office fees are subject to frequent change, you can check the latest fees here.

  • I have been living in England since 1999. I am a Polish citizen who was granted permanent residence back in 2003 on marriage grounds. I divorced my husband in 2005 and then remarried. I have never applied for a permanent residence card or British passport respectively. I didn’t think that my status in the UK could be fragile. So, here I am- panicking. Can any Organisation such as for instance Home Office question my permanent residence? I have not left the country for longer than 4 weeks during a single year since I have arrived 17 years ago… although my passport wasn’t stamped. There must be some evidence stored on the computer data- borders control…I am puzzled and frankly speaking fed up with it all.

Providing you can prove that you have lived here without excessive absences over the last 6 years and you have not lost your ILR status (criminal convictions etc.,) and continue to work here you can apply for citizenship. There is lots of information you can submit to the Home Office such as utility bills, bank statements, etc., which will prove that you were here and as you state in your email, the Home Office could check travel records on various border computer data.

  • I have lived in the UK for 17 years and finally going to submit my application for naturalisation. I have passed the Life in the UK Test a couple years ago and now I’m seeing a section about the permanent residence card. Do I really have to get it,  or can I just leave it blank would my application still be approved?

No please do not waste your money. You need to apply for PR regardless of how long in excess of 5 years you have lived here. Unfortunately, the law changed in November 2015 and you need to obtain confirmation of PR before naturalisation.

  • I would like to discuss how you can assist with British Naturalisation. I am a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and have resided and worked in the UK since 2008. What is the breakdown for DavidsonMorris handling my application from A-Z?

The breakdown of our services for handling your application are:

  • meeting with you or telecoms if you are unable to visit us at our office
  • advise concerning the legislation and other considerations appropriate to your circumstances
  • collation of documentation
  • dealing with your queries via email and telephone
  • drafting your application and representations
  • submitting your application
  • representing you before the Home Office
  • file administration and liaising with UKVI whilst your application is pending consideration#
  • How long does it take

Currently the Home Office advise that most applications take 4 – 6 mths to be processed.

  • I need to travel so can I not submit my passport with the application – what are my options?

Yes, no problem, we certify our clients’ passports and send a copy to the Home Office which means that you can continue to travel whilst your application is being processed.

  • Can my spouse apply at the same time?

Yes, your spouse an be included as part of your application.

  • I read your blog on applying for permanent residency and have lived in the UK since late October 2007 on a Finland passport after becoming concern about my status in the UK post-brexit (if the UK gets out the EU). Also I would like to retain my passport whilst an application is made due to travel and work business related matters.

In the Home Office it states that you have to submit evidence of your nationality which is usually your passport or ID card. For those clients who do not have an ID card and need to travel, we submit a certified copy of their passport along with confirmation that they are happy to attend at the Home Office to show a Home Office official the original if the caseworker needs to see the original passport.

  • I’m a German citizen living and working in London for about 6 1/2 yrs. I’m thinking about applying for a permanent residency card for the UK (due to Brexit) and I was wondering if you could help me with the form? I’ve read the form and it looks like I need to state every day I ever left the country, which will be difficult. Is there any way around that?

In the application, you must list your schedule of absences from the UK as best as you can. It is really difficult to remember all travel dates so we recommend that you start from 2016 and work backwards until 2009. Most people can remember their family holiday dates and try your best to remember short trips as well.

If you travel for work, you may have recorded the dates in your work diary and have the travel receipts on your expenses claim.

We recommend for our clients who we are assisting to include a letter to the Home Office in which you confirm that you have tried your best to be 100% with the dates but it is difficult to accurately recall all trips.

  • I am interested in applying for permanent residence in the UK and then for a British passport if eligible. I am originally from Greece but I have been in the UK since September 2010 when I came here to study, I have now graduated and I am working full time.

You need to prove 5yrs of exercising Treaty Rights in order for your application to be approved. This means that from September 2010 and throughout the period of your studies, you need to enclose evidence of your private medical health care or evidence of health care cover issued in Greece as this is a requirement to cover you whilst studying here.

  • I am a member of UK Armed Forces married to a German Citizen. Apart from 2 years in. Northern Ireland she has resided in England for around 10 years. I am concerned about her Residence status in light of the impending EY referendum.

Providing over the last 5yrs your wife has resided here and we can demonstrate her working, running her own business, job seeking or caring for children, she can apply for PR.

You can contact us if you are seeking legal help in relation to an EEA Permanent Residence Application. Our legal team will provide you with a professional, friendly, reliable service to avoid any issues or delays with your application.



Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Contact DavidsonMorris
Get in touch with DavidsonMorris for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.
Sign up to our award winning newsletters!
Find us on: