Brexit | UK leaving the EU | Legal Advice for EU nationals           

Brexit: Consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the EU

Some EU nationals and their family members are understandably concerned about their future rights to live and work in the United Kingdom.

The UK is scheduled to leave on 29 March 2019. In the meantime the UK remains a member of the EU and the existing laws on free movement remain unchanged.

The UK government has "...reached an agreement with the European Union on citizens’ rights in negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU". The government believes that this will "...provide certainty about the future to millions of EU citizens and their families in the UK". The terms of the agreement are, in general, much more beneficial than the present EEA Regulations that apply to EU nationals and their family members. For full information we recommend that you register on the Home Office website for Brexit updates via e-mail here.

What should EU nationals and their family members do now?

The answer, according to the government, is: "nothing at all" ! Such persons can simply wait for the new application process to be rolled-out (by March 2019 at the latest) to apply for either 'Settled Status' or 'Pre-Settled Status' as appropriate.

However, some EU nationals and/ or their family members may decide not to wait, and instead to apply for Permanent Residence documents now under the present EEA Regulations. This may be appropriate if, for example, the applicant wishes to apply for British citizenship in the near future.


Need help?

We can assist by way of one-off consultations, or our application checking service, or we can provide full preparation of the application and legal representation if required.


Permanent Residence: Frequently Asked Questions:-

How do I qualify for Permanent Residence (PR)?

Permanent Residence is acquired automatically after living in the United Kingdom for a continuous period of 5 years whilst exercising Treaty Rights here as a Qualified Person. This is most commonly achieved through employment/ self-employment, but it can also include study and being a ‘self-sufficient person’. Recognised family members of the Qualified Person can also qualify for Permanent Residence. In certain circumstances PR can be acquired in less than 5 years.

How do I prove that I have acquired Permanent Residence?

By applying to the Home Office for a Document Certifying Permanent Residence (EEA national) or a Permanent Residence Card (non-EEA national). Please see above for links to the application forms.

I have held my ‘5-Year Blue Card’ for 5 years – does this mean I now have PR?

Not necessarily. The 5-year Blue Card (Residence Card/ Registration Certificate) only proves that, at the time of issue, the Home Office was satisfied that the holder had the right of residence in the United Kingdom under the EEA Regulations.

Should I apply for a Document Certifying Permanent Residence?

In our opinion – yes, but you will need to replace this with a new 'Settled Status' document when the UK leaves the EU. 

Is it mandatory to use the Home Office application forms?

Yes, following the implementation of Regulation 21 of the new Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 on 01 February 2017. The online application forms are much easier to complete than the paper-based forms.

How long will my Permanent Residence application take to be decided?

It is not possible to answer this question. From our recent experience applications from EEA nationals have been taking an average of 3 months to be decided, but for non-EEA family members up to 6 months is possible.

There are gaps in my employment history – will this be a problem?

This should not be a problem provided that, during any periods of inactivity, you can show that you were actively seeking employment and that you stood a realistic prospect of securing employment. If you were unemployed for more than 6 months then we recommend that you seek legal advice before applying.

I have only been working part-time – is this OK? 

The EEA Regulations do not specify the minimum number of hours that must be worked for a person to be regarded as a worker. However, it is generally agreed that working less than 16-20 hours per week may not be sufficient (depending on the individual circumstances).

I have spent periods outside of the UK – is this a problem?

This will depend on the length of the absences, and the reasons for the absences. Absences of up to 6 months per year will not normally break continuity of residence. In response to a Freedom of Information Request the Home Office stated: “…we would look back at each year of the qualifying period and consider each year in turn as to whether absences in that particular year exceeded 6 months. For example, if the qualifying period runs from 1st Jan 2005 to 1st Jan 2010, we would look at whether each year from 1st January had more than 6 months absence".

Remember that continuity of residence and the exercise of Treaty Rights are two separate and distinct matters. If you are in any doubt then you should seek advice before applying.

Can I exercise Treaty Rights in different ways and still qualify for PR?

Yes you can. For example, you can combine periods spent as a worker and periods spent as a student.

Do I need to pass an English Test or the Life in the UK Test?

Neither of these are required for Permanent Residence, but you must satisfy these requirements before applying to naturalise as a British citizen.

What should I do if my Permanent Residence application is refused?

Refusal attracts a right of appeal. Alternatively, if the reason(s) for refusal can be overcome then a fresh application can be submitted.

Direct Immigration Solutions | Norwich | Norfolk | NR2 1EU | UK | tel: 01603 666661 | web: www.immigrationlegalhelp.co.uk

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