Permanent residency is an immigration status that grants EEA nationals the right to live, work or study without immigration restrictions in the UK. With a successful permanent resident application and a document certifying your status, you may be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
You will also have access to the benefit system should you find yourself involuntarily unemployed or needing assistance with any incapacity benefits. You may also be entitled to receive treatment within the NHS system.
Before making a permanent resident application in the UK, you would first need to check you meet the eligibility criteria.
Who is eligible to make a permanent resident application in the UK?
You can make a permanent resident application if you are an EEA national or Swiss citizen and have lived in the UK for a continuous 5 year period prior to application for a document certifying permanent residence. You will need to prove that during this 5 year period you were exercising your Treaty rights, ie either working, seeking work, self sufficient or a student. You may still apply if you have since retired, become permanently incapacitated or are now working in a different EEA State while retaining your residence status in the UK.
You will need to prove you were working in the 5 year qualifying period with evidence such as payslips, bank statements, NI contributions or HMRC documents. This evidence will need to be spread across the entire 5 year period even if you have changed employer, been made redundant or started vocational training. Any changes will need to be evidenced through your supporting documents. Each of the 12 month periods in the qualifying 5 years will require evidence to support your application.
If you are self employed your accounts will be required for the full 5 years, along with your Self-Assessment documents and evidence of any tax and national insurance paid. You may also need to provide evidence of who your clients/customers are, this could be through work contracts or invoices. If you have left employment to become self employed in this time, you will be required to provide evidence of the previous employment. Likewise if leaving study or jobseekers to become self employed, you will also need to provide the evidence of this status.
As a student, you will need to provide evidence through an enrolment letter, or acceptance letter with attendance confirmed by the college or university. Again if you were not a student for the entire 5 year qualifying period, you will need to provide the supporting documentation for any other status you held. You will also need to provide bank statements to prove you are financially supported through evidence such as any student loans or bank transfers from family members.
For Jobseekers, evidence from the job centre plus of your benefits paid and any letters of interviews and rejection letters will need to be included. You will need to prove that you have a reasonable chance of gaining employment. This means having a skill that is required by potential employers and/or relevant qualifications. Not having evidence of actively seeking work through letters inviting you for interview etc, may harm your claim as demonstrating the ability to find work which could lead to your application being rejected.
All changes in status within the qualifying 5 year period need to be evidenced. You need to have evidence for each of the 12 months within the 5 year qualifying period and it must be for 5 continuous years exercising Treaty rights. The evidence required is extensive and must be in its original format. As this is so important to get right, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice on what supporting documents are required.
If you are applying for permanent residence using a qualifying period that ended more than 2 years prior to your application, you will need to provide evidence that you have not spent 2 or more consecutive years outside of the UK. Permanent residence status will be lost if you have spent 2 or more years outside the UK, or if you have been deported from the UK. You will need to provide your current valid passport or national identity card, in addition to any that were current during your 5 year qualifying period. All travel documents for the 5 year period and any period after prior to applying will also be needed. It is advisable to keep accurate and detailed records of any trips outside of the UK, including the duration and reason.
A non-EEA citizen will need to have been resident for 5 continuous years in the UK as a family member of an EEA qualified person or permanent UK resident to receive a permanent residence card. There are other circumstances where a non-EEA citizen will still qualify for permanent residency including separation from the EEA national they were living with for whatever reason, or they are a family member of a British citizen who was working in different EEA state before returning to the UK.
Family members of an EEA national include spouse, civil partner, child or grandchild (of either party) who is under 21 or a dependant parent or grandparent (of either the partner of the EEA national or the EEA national).
However, if the EEA national acting as your sponsor is a student, you will only qualify if you are their spouse, civil partner or a dependent child.
How to make your permanent resident application
You will either need to apply for a document certifying permanent residence if an EEA citizen or a permanent residence card using the EEA PR form. This form may be filled out online or downloaded, filled out and posted with all supporting documentation.
You cannot use a premium service centre to apply for permanent residency.
Which ever document you are applying for, there is a £65 processing fee which needs to be paid at the same time as you send in your application. Failure to do so will result in your application being instantly rejected without consideration.
Likewise it important to ensure that you have filled out all the relevant sections of the form with complete accuracy. You will also need to send in all relevant supporting documentation in its original form. Should you fail to provide accurate and relevant information, your application may be rejected without consideration and your fee returned to you minus a £25 administration fee.
What are the next steps?
Once your application has been received and the payment has cleared, the Home Office will assess your claim to determine if you have the right to permanent residency. This process can take up to 6 months.
If your claim is successful, under current legislation, you would then be entitled to apply for British citizenship immediately after receiving your residency documents if you are the spouse of a British citizen, or 12 months after receiving your permanent residency document if you are not married to or a civil partner of a British citizen.
DavidsonMorris can help with making a permanent resident application
Under current proposals for the post-Brexit immigration system, permanent resident holders will be required to transfer to settled status. This is expected to be a ‘light touch’ application process, at no cost to the applicant.
For advice and guidance on a permanent resident application, contact our immigration experts.