EEA Permanent Residence
If you are a national of a country that falls within the European Economic Area (EEA) or a national of Switzerland, you automatically have the right to live, work and study in the UK.
As such, you do not need to make an application for permission to enter or remain in the UK under the five-tier points-based system or otherwise, but there may be some situations where you need to prove your right to live and work in the UK. In these instances, an EEA Registration Certificate acts as the proof you need if you are ever required to evidence your legal status as a resident.
Whilst an EEA Registration Certificate is not currently a legal requirement for European citizens living in the UK, having a certificate does confirm your rights and could assist you with a number of things, including gaining access to services that are exclusive to UK residents. Having an EEA Registration Certificate also comes in useful if you are looking to bring your family members with you to live in the UK, as it can be used in support of family members’ applications for EEA Family Permits, as well as EEA Residence Cards. Whilst not a requirement for eligibility, EEA Registration Certificate holders may experience a smoother and more straightforward application process when applying for EEA Permanent Residence Cards should they wish to do so in the future. After five years, you will automatically qualify for EEA PR (Permanent Residence). When deciding if you should apply for an EEA Registration Certificate or EEA Permanent Residence, this will depend on how long you have been living in the UK.
Our expert immigration lawyers have an up-to-date knowledge of all current EEA legislation and can help you to understand all the options available to you before and after. One of our lawyers can work with you one-to-one, to check your eligibility, perform a document check and assist you with your application for EEA Permanent Residence. Your lawyer can also prepare a Letter of Representation which acts as a personalised outline of your case and its merits from a legal perspective. This letter is intended to highly increase the chances of your application being accepted by the Home Office. Contact us now on 0333 363 8577 or use our online enquiry form to learn more about EEA Permanent Residence.
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The EEA comprises the following countries and if you are a national of one of these then you are classed as an EEA citizen:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Although Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), their citizens have the same rights as EU citizens to enter, live and work in the UK. Further, Switzerland is not a member of the EEA but its nationals also have the same rights as EEA nationals.
Bulgarians and Romanians have also acquired the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens. Whilst they gained the right to visa-free travel to the UK in 2007 when their countries joined the EU, there were temporary restrictions on the kind of jobs they could take. These have now been removed and Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are able to enjoy full rights of residence in the UK in exactly the same way as other EEA citizens.
To successfully apply for an EEA Registration Certificate, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a citizen of one of the EEA member states
- You must be working, actively seeking employment, studying or be able to financially support yourself and have required levels of sickness cover. The status of ‘working’ covers both those who are in employment, as well as those who are self-employed.
It is important to note that, if you have been living in the UK for less than five years, you must apply for an EEA Registration Certificate rather than EEA Permanent Residence.
Upon successful application, your EEA Registration Certificate will be issued to you and will take the form of either a standalone document or a passport endorsement which looks similar to those used for some visa types. A Registration Certificate lasts for five years. After this time, you may then go on to complete a Permanent Residence application for the UK if you meet the requirements for doing so.
This is done by applying for a document certifying Permanent Residence, the process for which can be easier if you have previously applied for and successfully obtained your EEA Registration Certificate. You can read more about EEA Registration Certificates and Residence Cards here.
Although Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) has been triggered and negotiations have now begun for the UK to leave the EU, the rights of EEA citizens to Free Movement remain unaffected for the time being, although there is still much uncertainty around whether this will remain the case.
It is extremely prudent for EEA nationals living in the UK to take steps towards securing their status in order to ensure their rights are protected, given that the terms of the UK leaving the EU are not yet known. Whilst it is highly probable that EEA nationals who have been in the UK for a period of five years or more and have gone on to obtain Permanent Residence will be able to continue enjoying the same rights once the UK leave, we have no indication as yet whether this will be the case for those who have resided in the UK for less than five years or those who have remained for longer than this period but not yet applied for residence. Whilst applying for proof of residence such as an EEA Registration Certificate has been considered unnecessary by many EEA nationals until now, it is strongly recommended that you obtain confirmation of your legal status if you think you may be impacted by any transitional arrangements agreed as part of the UK’s departure from the EU.
If you have been living in the UK for more than five years, you may be eligible for EEA Permanent Residence. This would allow you to live and work in the UK after Brexit, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. In order to remain in the UK, the EEA national must have exercised their treaty rights through employment, self-employment, self-sufficiency or study.
You must also satisfy one of the following conditions:
- You are an EEA national ‘qualified person’, either worker, self-employed, self-sufficient, student or job-seeker
- You are a family member or extended family member of an EEA national qualified person or permanent resident
- You are a former family member of an EEA national if you have retained your right of residence after an EEA national died, left the UK, or ended your marriage/civil partnership through a divorce, annulment or dissolution
- You are a family member of a British citizen who worked or was self-employed in another EEA state before returning to the UK.
In order to apply for EEA permanent residence, you must complete an 85-page application form and send the completed form along with your £65 fee to the Home Office. If you are a non-EEA national applying for EEA PR, you will need to supply your biometric information, including fingerprints and a digital photo before your application will be considered. If multiple members of your family are eligible for EEA PR, you may use the same application, but the fee will increase with each family member. You can read more about the EEA Permanent Residence application process here.
The Home Office is currently trialling an online application form. Unlike the paper form, the online application only asks questions that are relevant to you, which some people believe speeds up the process. The online form is not suitable for everyone, so you should check with the Home Office before starting your online application.
The required documents will vary based on each application, but as a minimum, you should expect to provide the following:
- Two passport-sized photographs for you and each of your family members
- Proof of identity, such as a valid passport or travel document
- Proof of relationship to your sponsor, such as birth/adoption certificates, marriage/civil partnership certificates;
- Previous Permanent Residence document (if applying for a renewal)
- Previous immigration documents such as EEA Registration Certificate;
- Proof of residence in the UK, such as utility bills, council tax letters, NHS letters or mortgage/letting agreements; or
- evidence of employment, such as wage slips or bank statements.
This is not an exhaustive list, but an example of some of the documents required. Section 18 of the application form details all possible required documents.
According to EU law, all EEA PR applications have to be processed within six months. As there is currently a high demand for the service, processing times may be higher. Applicants are reporting waiting times between two/three months or between seven/eight months. You can read more about EEA Permanent Residence processing times here
The EEA application fee is £65 for Permanent Residence or under the Settlement Scheme which will be introduced next year.
IAS have many highly-experienced lawyers who can advise you on the options available to you and your next steps if you are considering applying for EEA Permanent Residence in the UK. Our team of expert immigration lawyers can help find the best route for you and take you step-by-step through the application process, to maximise your chances of success and help you settle in the UK.
One of our lawyers can:
- Meet with/contact you within a day of first contact
- Walk you through your next steps and requirements
- Assess your eligibility for EEA Permanent Residence
- Assess whether you are eligible for alternative routes (such as Surinder Singh or Zambrano)
- Perform a full document check to ensure that they are sufficient
- Liaise with you in person, via phone or Skype at a time that suits you
- Prepare a Letter of Representation to accompany your application
- Liaise with the Home Office during your application process
- Complete each part of your application form to the highest standard.