EU nationals looking to apply to naturalise as British citizens must be able to provide documentary proof that they have attained permanent residency status in the UK. This is evidenced with a permanent residence card.
If you are an EEA national and have lived in the UK continuously and lawfully while exercising your Treaty rights for a period of 5 years, you may apply for a permanent residence card to confirm your status in the UK as a permanent resident.
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.
A permanent residence card is not mandatory to prove your residence status in the UK, unless you intend to apply for British citizenship, wish to sponsor your partner’s visa application or are an extended family member of an EEA national. However, having a UK permanent residence card can prove useful for employment purposes or to gain access to certain UK social benefits.
Eligibility for UK permanent residence and the corresponding permanent residence card is reliant on an EEA national, that is, you or your family member, having lived continuously in this country for 5 years while exercising Treaty rights.
Treaty rights cover the following categories:
- Job seeker
- Self employed
- Self sufficient
You 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.
A job seeker is actively looking for employment in the UK and likely to gain such employment.
A 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.
To meet the requirements of this category, you must have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without help from the UK benefits system.
In 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.
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.
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.
Non-EEA national family members will also have to provide biometric data in the form of fingerprints, photograph and signature.
Proof of the exercising of Treaty rights
Whichever Treaty right has been exercised by the qualifying EEA national must be evidenced, for instance in the form of:
- for a worker, a signed contract of employment, P45s and payslips
- for a job seeker, interview letters and communications from the Jobcentre Plus
- for a self employed person, P60s, business accounts and proof of self-assessment with HMRC
- for a self sufficient person, bank accounts and other proof of income
- for a student, proof of enrolment on an approved educational course, bank statements showing payment of a grant or sponsorship, and evidence of any scholarship
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.
Other supporting documents
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.
Absences from the UK
Should you or anyone included in your application have spent more than 2 years outside the UK during the qualifying 5 year period, you will probably 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.
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.
Surinder Singh applications
You may be eligible for a UK permanent residence card if you qualify under this category.
To take the Surinder Singh route to permanent resident status, you must be a family member of a British citizen, where you have both lived in an EEA country outside the UK.
Permanent residence before 5 years?
You may be eligible for permanent residence and the related card before you have lived in the UK for 5 years if:
- you are forced to stop work on a permanent basis due to a work-related illness or accident (permanent incapacity) which thus entitles you to a UK pension
- you have resided continuously in the UK for at least 2 years and have been forced to stop work permanently because of a work-related illness or accident (permanent incapacity)
- you have resided continuously in the UK for at least 3 years and have reached State Pension age after having been self employed or worked continuously in the UK for at least 1 year before that
- you took early retirement having worked continuously in the UK for at least 1 year before that
- you took up work or self employment in an EEA country outside the UK or Switzerland, returning to your UK home at least once a week, and have previously worked or been self-employed for at least 3 years continuously in the UK
Derivative right to reside
Persons with a derivative right of residence are not permitted to count time spent in the UK under this status towards the qualifying period for permanent residence.
They have ‘derived’ a right to reside in the UK through a qualifying person by generally being their primary carer or legal guardian with primary or shared responsibility for that person.
For instance, where they are the primary carer of an EEA national, where that EEA national is under 18 years of age, lives in the UK as a self-sufficient person and would not be able to remain in the UK if their primary carer left the UK indefinitely.
Do you need help applying for a permanent residence card?
You can apply for a permanent residence card through the online application process or by using a paper copy of the form. The completed form is forwarded to the Home Office with required supporting documents and the relevant fee for each person who is included in the application.
The EEA (PR) application form and the documents to be compiled are notoriously extensive, and the process can be complex, depending on your personal circumstances and the basis of your application.
DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals through the permanent residence process and provide guidance on completing the form and compiling supporting documentation. If you have a question about an application for a permanent residence card UK, please contact us.