Many European Economic Area (EEA) nationals feel insecure about their future in the UK post-Brexit. Whether you are already living in the UK and want to acquire permanent residence, or are planning to move to the UK, we will formulate a plan to achieve your objective. As an added benefit we offer ongoing advice and will keep you informed of key developments relevant to your situation in light of Brexit.
If you have any queries please do call us.
How to help European nationals and their families
- Can I come to the UK?
- What if I want to stay in the UK?
- Family members
- When will I get permanent residence?
- How do I obtain a permanent residence document?
- What happens if my personal circumstances change?
Can I come to the UK?
EEA and Swiss nationals must be allowed to enter the UK provided they have a valid national ID card or passport. They are allowed to reside in the UK for 3 months.
What if I want to stay in the UK?
If you want to remain in the UK beyond the initial 3-month period, then you must become a ‘qualified person’. In practice, the UK government does not currently monitor EEA nationals and hence cannot enforce the requirement to become a qualified person after 3 months. This means that you will not be removed from the UK. However, if you do not become a qualified person you will never get permanent residence in the UK. This is especially important with regard to securing your position in the UK post Brexit.
Who is a ‘qualified person’?
Qualified persons are EEA or Swiss nationals who are taking advantage of their rights to free movement (otherwise known as their ‘Treaty Rights’) by becoming employed or self-employed workers, self-sufficient persons, students or job-seekers in the UK. Qualified persons are considered lawfully resident in the UK for as long as they exercise Treaty Rights.
Must I prove that I am a qualified person?
EEA-nationals may apply for registration certificates as proof that they are qualified persons. However there is no requirement for EEA-nationals to obtain a registration certificate and there is often little practical benefit of obtaining a registration certificate.
There exists a distinction between direct family members and extended family members.
Direct family members are spouses, civil partners, children under 21 and direct relatives in the ascending line.
Extended family member is defined as a relative who is not a direct family member but:
- Is dependent on the EEA national; or
- Is or was a member of the EEA nationals household; or
- Requires the personal care of the EEA national due to serious health grounds; or
- Is the partner of an EEA national who can prove they are in a durable relationship (i.e. have been living together for 2 years in a relationship).
Can family members come to the UK?
Direct family members have an automatic right to come to the UK with the EEA national. Although it is not strictly required you may choose to obtain an EEA family permit before travelling to the UK as this will make it easier to prove to border force officers and airline operators that you are allowed to enter the UK.
Extended family members must apply for family permits before travelling to the UK.
Always seek guidance before travelling to the UK to avoid being refused entry at the border. If you are unsure, please call us.
There is no application fee for EEA family permits. You need to submit the application outside the UK. Once granted, they are valid for 6 months and you can leave and enter the UK as many times as you need within that time.
If you want to discuss the merits of obtaining a family permit, please get in touch.
What if family members want to stay in the UK?
If you are the direct family you do not have to make an application to stay in the UK with your sponsor. You are allowed to stay in the UK for as long as you remain a family member. This is provided that the EEA-national sponsor continues to be a qualified person.
You may wish to apply for a residence card as confirmation of your right to reside in the UK as there are many practical benefits. For example, to prove to employers, landlords and border officers that you have a right to work and live in the UK.
If you are an extended family member on the other hand, you must apply for a residence card if you wish to remain in the UK with your EEA-national sponsor, before your family permit expires.
We will advise you on whether you are a direct or extended family member and discuss the application process and merits of applying for a residence card.
When will I get permanent residence?
Permanent residence is acquired ‘automatically’ once you have lived in the UK for 5 consecutive years as a qualified person or a family member.
Do I need to apply for permanent residence?
Although you do not have to apply for permanent residence, you may wish to apply for a document which confirms that you have acquired permanent residence. The only people who need to apply for a permanent residence document are extended family member or people who want to apply for British citizenship and a British passport.
Even though you do not have to, you may wish to apply for a permanent residence document for your own peace of mind and to secure your position in light of Brexit.
If you are undecided, please get in touch. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of applying and provide an update of any relevant Brexit developments.
How do I obtain a permanent residence document?
To obtain a permanent residence document, the EEA-national must provide proof that he/she has been a qualified person (i.e. as an employed or self-employed worker, a student, a job-seeker or a self-sufficient person) for 5 consecutive years, amongst other requirements.
The non-EEA family member must prove that he/she remained a family member throughout this period (unless you have a retained right of residence). You do not need to use the 5 years immediately preceding the date of application. You may use any consecutive 5-year period during which you lived in the UK as a qualified person.
Breaks in the 5-year period
You may still be considered a qualified person if you have had to stop working, for example due to illness, or if you were looking for work. If you are unsure whether you were a qualified person for the required 5 years then get in touch with us and we will discuss your situation with you in detail.
Can I lose my permanent residence status?
Your permanent residence status can only be revoked or invalidated if you become liable for deportation, such as if you have committed a criminal offence, have obtained permanent residence by deception or remain outside the UK for more than 2 years.
What happens if my personal circumstances change?
If you are a non-EEA national in the UK and your circumstances relating to your EEA-sponsor change, you may still be allowed to stay in the UK in certain circumstances. For example, if:
- you have been the victim of domestic violence;
- if you and your partner are separating; or
- if your partner has passed away.
Retained rights of residence
If you find yourself in one of these situations before you have acquired permanent residence then it is important that you find out immediately how this might affect your right to remain in the UK. Some situations will allow you to retain your right to live in the UK until you can get permanent residence.
How to retain rights of residence
You will need to make an application and provide certain evidence. If you do not make an application you will become an immigration offender, which might impact you negatively in the long-term.
Our specialist immigration solicitors understand that you might be approaching us during a distressing time and we will therefore ensure that we handle your enquiry with utmost sensitivity. As solicitors we have a duty of confidentiality and you should therefore be satisfied that no information you provide us with will be communicated to the authorities or other third-parties.