The benefits of applying for Permanent Residence as an EEA National before UK’s Brexit from EU membership!
As the political decision on Britain’s membership of the European Union and Immigration continues to be hotly debated free movement rights of European migrants are being placed at risk.
This article aims to demonstrate benefits of applying for permanent residence in the UK even if you are a European national and can enjoy a right of free movement in accordance with current European legislation.
Under regulation 15 of The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 European nationals automatically acquire a permanent right of residence in the UK after five years continuous residence as a qualified person.
“Qualified persons” is defined in Regulation 4, 5 and 6 of The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 and this includes workers and jobseekers, self-employed, students, self-sufficient and retired persons. Those European citizens who have been unemployed, incapable to work or claimed public benefits in the UK may still fall under category of qualified persons.
Regulation 3 defines continuity of residence and require a person not to be absent from the UK for more than six months. Having said that there are exemptions to when the six months or one year absence from the UK will not break the continuity of the five years period.
Nationals of countries such as Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania should take into account their respective Accession card period when applying for a permanent residence.
The current permanent residence application fee is £65 and the legal deadline for the Home Office to decide your application is 6 months. There have been cases on receiving compensation for the Home Office’s failure to issue European documents within this timescale. There is no requirement to undertake an English language test or the Life in the UK test either.
So, what are the benefits of getting your permanent residence confirmed?
- Before a person becomes a permanent resident in the UK s/he must be a qualified person, i.e employee, self-employed, student or self-sufficient. There are also potential difficulties with relying on public funds especially with the current government policy. Having acquired a permanent residence and confirmed it by the Home Office you can be more relaxed in sense of exercising Treaty rights and you can rely on public funds should you need a help;
- If you are planning to become a British citizen after obtaining documents confirming your permanent residence you can do so only after 1 year to then naturalise as a British citizen. You can enclose your permanent residence document and there is no need to go six years back and therefore naturalisation is far more easier and quicker;
- If your family members are third country nationals and they want to join you or remain with you in the UK you have to be a qualified person if you are in the country for more than 3 months. If you have acquired and received confirmation of your permanent residence and you are no longer a qualified person at that point, your family can still join you or remain with you in the UK;
- In removal and deportation cases the decision maker will take into account whether a person has acquired permanent residence in the UK. The Home Office can only deport you on serious grounds of public policy or public security if you acquired permanent residence. We have seen that in deportation and removal cases our clients would benefit from having their right of permanent residence confirmed previously.
- and finally if the Government and people of Britain vote to leaving the European Union and you have obtained a document certifying permanent residence in the UK you may be better protected to remain in the UK indefinitely. The changes of Immigration policy and legislation if UK exits the EU are still unknown but as an EU national with Permanent Resident it may provide some peace of mind and ease your concerns to know that you will not need to evidence your right to permanent residence should the UK exit the EU.
If you think that you may have entitlement to permanent residence in the UK and you would like to apply for permanent residence card under EEA PR form attached; or if you have any questions in relation to your Immigration status in the UK as a European national please feel free to contact our UK Immigration team of solicitors and we will gladly assist you to obtain the best outcome.