EEA nationals may be eligible to apply for a permanent resident card once they have been resident in the UK for a period of 5 continuous years. To apply for permanent residence, applicants must be able to evidence they have been exercising their Treaty rights throughout their qualifying period.
The permanent resident card entitles the holder to live, work and study in the UK for an indefinite period without immigration restrictions and while still holding a foreign citizenship and passport.
While permanent residence is automatically attained after the 5 year qualifying period when exercising Treaty rights, for EEA nationals wanting to apply for British citizenship, a permanent residence card provides the requisite documentary evidence for UK naturalisation.
Applying for a permanent residence card
An EEA national may apply for permanent residence using the EEA PR form to gain their permanent residence card. The form is extensive and far from straight forward to complete. You will also be required to collate and submit extensive supporting documentation to evidence all applicants’ eligibility – specifically, providing proof that you have spent the five year period as a qualified person if you are an EEA national or that you are a family member of a qualified person if you are a non-EEA national.
You will need to provide evidence that you are a ‘qualifying person’. This means proving continuous residence in the UK and that you have been exercising your Treaty rights for the full 5 year qualifying period.
A qualifying person is someone who is either working, self employed, self sufficient, a student or actively seeking work.
You may already have a registration certificate that you have previously applied for on form EEA QP. This will provide part of your proof of residency as a qualified person for the 5 year period.
You will need evidence of your income, for example P60s, wage slips, accounts, bank statements or HMRC documents. It will also be necessary to prove your residency status through letters addressed to you and your sponsor at the same address, utility bills, doctors letters, statements are all good examples.
Your valid (ie current and in date) passport, national identity card or travel document will also be required to be sent in with your application. You will also need to provide any marriage certificates, birth or adoption certificates to prove your relationship with the EEA national who is sponsoring your application.
You can apply online or via a printable version of the EEA PR form through the mail. You cannot apply at a premium service centre. The fee for processing is £65 per person named on the application form. So for example if 4 family members are applying on one form, the total fee would be £260. You may include family members who also qualify on one form. This fee must be included with your application and processing will only begin once the fee has been cleared.
What happens next?
Once your application has been received and the payment has been processed, the Home Office will process your application. Waiting times can vary but you should expect a decision to take around 6 months.
If your application for permanent residence has been refused, you will be given the option to appeal, or you may make a new application.
After 5 years in the UK exercising treaty rights and upon successful application of a permanent residency card, an EEA citizen will be able to apply for British citizenship. This can be done 12 months after the permanent residency card has been issued, or if you are married to a British citizen or settled UK person, you can apply to naturalise as soon as you receive your card.
Settled status or permanent residence?
The UK’ s new Settlement Scheme requires EU citizens in Britain to apply for settled status. Those holding a permanent residence card will be able to apply for the new status via a fast-tracked process and at no cost.
However, if you are looking to apply for British citizenship,
- The EEA FM form is for non-EEA nationals who are immediate family members, spouse, civil partner, child, parent or grandparent of the qualifying EEA national. The EEA national you live with must live in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years as a qualified person or have permanent right of residence themselves for them to be eligible to sponsor your application.
- The EEA EFM form is for non-EEA nationals who are extended members of the qualifying EEA national. Extended family members include, durable partners, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins of the qualifying EEA national. As an extended family member of an EEA national, you will need to have held a valid EEA family permit and residence card for the entirety of the 5 year period prior to applying for permanent residence.
The residency cards last for 5 years and will allow you to apply for permanent residency once your 5 year qualifying period is completed. Although it will not be valid after the UK leaves the EU and you will need to reapply when the new legislation comes into effect next year. However, your application will be fast tracked if you have already obtained a residence card.
If for any reason you are no longer living with the qualifying EEA national, and you have retained your rights of residency, you will still be eligible to apply for a permanent residency card.
Those who have been living with a British citizen in another EEA country and have entered the UK under the Surinder Singh route, will also be eligible to apply for a permanent residence card if they meet the criteria. Your legal advisor will be able to assist you with this.
Do you have a question about the UK permanent residence card? DavidsonMorris can help!
DavidsonMorris are experienced in all aspects of Home Office EEA applications including permanent residence applications. If you have any queries or require guidance, contact our immigration specialists.