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.
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.
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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.