EU National Working in UK


If you are an EU national working in UK, you may want to secure a more permanent status in Britain.

While Brexit negotiations are ongoing, and UK immigration an area of considerable uncertainty and contention, many EU nationals are taking action under the current system to safeguard their rights to work, live and remain in Britain.

Given the significance of attaining recognised status in the UK, it is important to ensure applications are submitted in line with UKVI guidelines, that all applicants (and where relevant dependants) satisfy the requirements, that any forms are completed correctly and any supporting evidence is valid and comprehensive.

Errors or problems with applications may result in a rejected applications, and loss of the full application fee.

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What is Permanent Residence?

Since November 2015, all EEA citizens applying for UK citizenship must first apply to become a Permanent Resident of the UK.

As a European citizen, you automatically acquire Permanent Residence after completing five lawful years in the UK under the European Regulations.

Permanent residence applications can be complex. If successful, you will essentially be free from immigration restrictions and can enter and leave Britain as you wish. The only limitation to permanent residence status is that you must not be out of the UK for a period of more than 2 years. At this point you will lose your permanent residence.

EU national working in UK: Can I apply for British Citizenship?

If you are an EU citizen and have been living in the UK for six or more years you could be eligible to make an application to be naturalised and acquire British Citizenship.

The application for British citizenship requires:

  • You must have been in the UK for 6 or more years
  • During your time in the UK, you must have been working, self-employed, or a student ie ‘exercising Treaty Rights
  • You must meet the residence requirements, which include an assessment of your absences from the UK and where you intend to live after making the application
  • You will need to pass the Life in the UK Test
  • You also need to pass an approved English Language Test
  • You must meet the ‘good character’ requirement, for example no recent or serious criminal convictions, you must not be bankrupt, or associated with those considered to have ‘bad character’

EU national working in UK: How does Brexit affect my status in the UK?

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, there has been no change to the rights or status of EEA workers in Britain.

This position may however change as part of a new immigration policy following the UK’s formal exit from Europe. At present, it is not clear how the Government will approach EU migrants.

One possible scenario is that as an EU worker in the UK, you may be required to apply for a visa under a new set of Immigration Rules.

EU national working in UK: Do I need Permanent Residence for my job?

Currently a document certifying Permanent Residence is not mandatory by law. This position may however change following Brexit.

Permanent residence does however give employers peace of mind when employing European nationals that you are officially free from immigration control.

How long do applications take?

Currently UKVI advises that most applications take 4 – 6 mths to be processed.

What are the fees?

Home Office fees are subject to frequent change and you should check before sending in your application.

Also note, if you make a mistake and fail to submit a relevant document, your application will be automatically refused and you will lose the fees.

What happens if I do nothing?

Under the current UK immigration rules, you are not obliged to apply for permanent residence or to naturalise to remain in the UK. You are entitled to exercise your Treaty Rights by living and working in the UK.

Prior to the EU referendum, there had been no real need for EU citizens to make an application for permanent residence. The rules may however change as Britain leaves the EU. It is for individuals to decide, based on their circumstances and eligibility, whether they wish to safeguard their status in the UK.

Other points to note

  • Since November 2015, you need to apply for permanent residence before naturalisation, irrespective of how long in excess of 5 years you have lived here.
  • Do not submit an application for permanent residence before the start of your 5th qualifying year. 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 application fee.
  • Permanent residence is not the same as dual nationality. Many people hold permanent residence and decide not to proceed with naturalisation.
  • If you do choose to proceed with naturalisation, and you have lived in the UK for more than 6 years, once your permanent residence application is approved you can apply immediately to naturalise.
  • As part of any application, you must make full disclose of all criminal convictions. The Home Office will review your entire residency in the UK and consider the nature and seriousness of any crimes.

We are the UK’s leading law firm for EU Nationals Permanent Residency & British Citizenship applications

DavidsonMorris is a leading UK immigration law firm specialising in British citizenship and naturalisation applications.

Many websites on the internet offering immigration services are unregulated management companies or intermediaries that sell on your details to third parties.

DavidsonMorris is fully regulated by the Law Society of England and Wales and is a registered member of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.

For a fast & professional service – contact DavidsonMorris

You can contact us if you are seeking legal help in relation to an application for Permanent Residency or British Citizenship. 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 500and 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.

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