Obtaining permanent residence

  • Posted

Gannons assisted a couple on obtaining permanent residence granting them the right to live, work, and study in the UK, together.

Our clients in this case consisted of a husband and his wife. The husband was originally from outside the EEA, and now studied in the UK. His wife was an EEA-national, who worked in the UK. However, she had never made an application to obtain a residence document for herself. They approached us because the husband’s student visa was expiring imminently. He could not extend his student visa in the UK at that time and was also ineligible to apply for any other visa category.

Client’s objective

The clients had recently married and wanted to stay together in the UK. They did not wish to be separated. However, the non-EEA spouse had to return to his home country to seek an alternative visa route.

Free Movement Rights of EEA-nationals and their direct family members

Under EU law, a spouse (or civil partner) is considered a direct family member. Direct family members have an automatic right of residence in the UK for as long as they remain the family member of an EEA national who either has been in the UK for up to three months; or is a qualified person; or has a right of permanent residence.

In this case, the EEA-national wife had been in the UK for just over five years. During this time she had been economically active. An EEA-national who resides in the UK for more than three months must be exercising treaty rights; working is considered to be a treaty right and the wife was thus classed as a qualified person when the couple got married. Since their marriage, the wife had continued to work and had been working for five years and two months when the couple came to see us; she was therefore eligible to apply for a document certifying permanent residence at that point.

Automatic right of residence

An EEA-national does not need a document to confirm their residence status in the UK. In addition, the non-EEA husband had an automatic right of residence in the UK because his wife was a qualified person (a worker) and a permanent resident. Furthermore, the husband also had the right to work or become self-employed; he did not need a residence card to prove his right of residence in the UK, as this right was automatic under EU law. Therefore, he did not have to leave the UK once his student visa expired and they could both continue living in the UK.

Benefits of documentation

By law neither of our clients had to apply for residence documents. However, there were many practical benefits to having documents confirming their status, particularly for the non-EEA national. For example, it would make re-entering the country quicker and easier, especially if the husband was travelling by himself. If he obtained the documents then he could easily convince the border force that he had a right to enter the UK by showing his residence card. This would be much easier than having to explain his situation and presenting the border force with his marriage certificate along with proof that his wife lives in the UK. Similarly, it would be easier to show prospective employers that he was allowed to work in the UK.

Application procedure

The couple decided to apply for a residence card for the non-EEA husband. To do so, we had to submit evidence to show that the husband met all the qualifying conditions.

Qualifying conditions

The husband had to provide evidence of his identity and nationality as well as that of his sponsor (his wife). The couple then had to provide proof of their relationship. Finally, they then had to provide proof that the sponsor had acquired a permanent right of residence, through being a qualified person for five years.

Showing that the sponsor is a qualified person would have sufficed for meeting the qualifying conditions for the husband. However, the wife was also eligible for a document certifying permanent residence. Therefore, she decided to apply for this, as she needed just a few more documents to do so. Thus, it required barely any extra effort, and provided additional documentation, convenience, and peace of mind to the couple.


Our clients came to us when they were scared of being separated. We reassured them by informing them of the relevant law and how it applied to them, allowing them to remain in the country. Additionally, we assisted them in getting documentation to support their position. We understand our clients’ concerns and the intricacies of the law and aim to provide the most practical solutions.

  • Gannons were sensitive and pragmatic in their approach and provided a practical solution to our problem