If you are unsure about your immigration options as an EEA national in the UK, and whether to complete the EEA PR Form or to register under the EU settled status scheme, speak to our legal advisers.
The permanent residence application process can seem daunting. Form EEA (PR) is 85 pages long, and requires extensive evidence in support of your application. With so much at stake and so much invested in your application, it’s reasonable to ask how long the EEA permanent residence processing time will be.
EEA permanent residence processing time
Once an EEA national has lived in the UK for 5 continuous years, exercising their Treaty rights as either a:
- job seeker;
- self-employed person;
- self-sufficient person; and/or
they acquire an automatic right to live in the UK permanently.
If you qualify for EEA permanent residence in the UK, you may choose to apply for a permanent residence card to prove your status in the UK, and to meet the prerequisite for applying for British citizenship.
Currently the Home Office is placing a 6 month waiting time on the processing of an EEA permanent residence application, although in practice, applicants are seeing a variation to these timescales. Some applications are taking as little as a few weeks, and others taking up to 8 months.
There are many possible reasons for these variations including:
- Incorrect or absent documentation and information may lead to an application being subject to a delay following a request for further information (that is, if the application is not outright rejected).
- Where your personal situation is complicated and requires additional explanation and evidence, for instance, where you are applying as a non-EEA national family member, you have had periods of unemployment, or have used several different Treaty rights, the process will take longer if your situation is being investigated.
- Where your application leads to additional security checks on you and your family
- Since the vote for the UK to leave the EU, the Home Office has experienced unprecedented volumes of applications, impacting service and processing times.
Premium processing is not available for permanent residence applications.
How your PR application is processed
Your application will first be checked to ensure that:
- the correct application form has been used
- the form has been fully filled out
- the correct fee has been paid
- all required documents have been supplied
If any of those criteria have not been met, your application may be rejected at this point. The documents will then be returned to you with your fee less a £25 administration charge.
Each case will be assessed by a Home Office case worker on an individual basis. They will check the information entered on the form and any supplied documents are genuine or true, relevant and sufficient.
What is a Certificate of Application?
If your application is deemed to have met all of the above criteria, the British Government are required to issue a Certificate of Application to you immediately.
However, this document does not confirm that you have a right of permanent residence in the UK, but simply that your application for permanent residence has been received and passed on for further processing.
What can applicants do to help reduce the EEA permanent residence processing time?
Completing the form
Making your application using the printed EEA (PR) form, rather than the online application process, may cause your application to be delayed for a number of reasons including:
- The amount of time it takes for your application to be sent in the post.
- Posting your application during a public holiday period will increase the amount of time it takes for your application to arrive.
- There may be other issues with the postal service, such as lost post items or postal strikes.
- Whereas the online form is geared to your individual situation, the printed form is complete, listing every question whether they are relevant to your application or not. This can make the completion process longer and mistakes more likely.
- If you have made errors on a printed form, then it will be necessary to send it back to you before you correct the form and re-send it, incurring a delay while the application is in the post.
- Although the guidance for completing the printed EEA (PR) form is to leave irrelevant questions blank, this can in practice lead to an application being rejected or a delay in processing while further information is requested.
If you are a non-native speaker, depending on your fluency you may want to ask someone with greater English proficiency to double check your application before you submit, to ensure the form is completed correctly and that you have understood and answered all of the relevant questions and requests for information.
Check your supporting documents
The documents you supply will generally depend on the basis on which you are applying for permanent residence, for instance, are you an EEA national who has used the Treaty right of worker, a self-sufficient person, or a family member of an EEA national?
You will need to be clear on which documents you need to provide and the format they must be provided in, for instance, are you expected to supply an original document or is a colour photocopy acceptable? Similarly, do you know what size and format of photographs to supply?
Supplying the correct documents the first time round will remove the likelihood of a delay caused by a request for further information.
Retaining your passport while your application is being processed
One advantage of using the online application form is the ability to use the European passport return service so that you can retain your passport while your application is being processed.
Passports for you, and any individuals included in your application, may be presented at a participating local authority to be checked and copied. These copies will then be sent to the Home Office on your behalf.
Can all applicants use the online form?
The online system may not be used by the following:
- family members who are not applying at the same time as the qualifying EEA national
- students or self-sufficient persons financially responsible for family members or financially reliant on a family member
persons with retained rights
- persons applying under the Surinder Singh category
The impact of Brexit on EEA permanent residence processing
Figures are showing Brexit has increased the demand for Home Office applications, particularly from EU citizens seeking to secure their status in the UK via permanent residence as the prerequisite to naturalisation.
Under current proposals, EU citizens in the UK will post-Brexit be required to apply for settled status. It is expected that permanent residence holders will be able to transfer to settled status with minimal effort and at no cost.
DavidsonMorris can help with your EEA permanent residence application
The EEA (PR) application process can be complicated due to the individual nature of each application and the evidentiary burden on applicants to prove their eligibility. Such complexity can result in uncertainty surrounding processing times.
Applicants can take steps to try to reduce the processing time of their permanent residence application by ensuring the application form has been completed fully and correctly, and is accompanied by all required supporting documents in the correct format.
DavidsonMorris are specialists in advising EEA nationals on their UK permanent residence applications. Contact us for help and advice with your application.