The Surinder Singh Route Closes on the 29 March 2022
Brexit seems to be all about deadlines. Immigration solicitors have advised UK businesses and individuals about the December 2020 end of the free movement deadline and the 2021 date for the closure of the EU Settlement Scheme to most new applicants. Now immigration lawyers are focussing their attention to the end of family permits under the Surinder Singh route. The deadline for new applications is 11pm on the 29 March 2022.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
What is the Surrinder Singh route?
The Surrinder Singh route is named after an immigration case involving a Mr Surrinder Singh. He claimed he had a right to remain in the UK and this was disputed by the Home Office. Mr Singh was an Indian national and he said he acquired UK residence rights by virtue of his British citizen wife exercising free movement rights when the couple moved to live and work in an EU country. The couple then returned to live in the UK and Mr Singh said he could stay in the UK through exercising free movement rights. The court agreed and the route was named ‘Surrinder Singh’ after Mr Singh.
In case you are wondering, in Mr Singh’s case, returning to the UK and staying in the UK on a spouse visa, extension of spouse visa or with indefinite leave to remain based on a spouse visa wasn’t possible because of the breakdown of his marriage.
Essentially, the Surrinder Singh route is where a British citizen who has had a home in an EU country is returning to live in the UK. The qualifying British citizen can bring family members who aren’t EEA nationals back to the UK with them without the non-EEA citizen (who is a partner or child under the age of 21 or dependant parent of the qualifying British citizen) from being required to apply to the Home Office for a UK family visa or other type of visa.
The Surrinder Singh concession is important for many families because, for example, a spouse or partner might not qualify for a spouse visa as the family may not meet the financial income requirement.
Why is the Surrinder Singh route closing on the 29 March 2022?
The Surrinder Singh route and most family permit applications are closing at 11 pm on the 29 March 2022. That’s because the EU Settlement Scheme for EU nationals was introduced as a time limited route for qualifying EU nationals to remain in the UK after the end of the Brexit transition period. Consequently, because of Brexit, the Surrinder Singh route is time limited as well.
Immigration solicitors say that if you or a family member wants to enter the UK using the Surrinder Singh route the application must be made before the 29 March 2022 deadline.
The best immigration legal advice is not to ignore this deadline because you assume that you or a family member will be able to apply for a family visa or spouse visa or another alternate visa, such as a student visa or work visa. You or your family members may not meet the relevant eligibility criteria for any of these UK visa routes so it isn’t wise to assume that you can ignore the 29 March deadline because other immigration routes will be available to you. They may not be.
The UK government has clarified that the key date is the 29 March 2022 and, if you make a Surrinder Singh family permit application by 11 pm on that date, the Home Office will process the application. In other words, you can still get your family permit after the 29 March provided you have a pending application by the cut-off date.
The Surrinder Singh route and family permits
If you qualify to enter the UK under the Surrinder Singh route with a family permit then once you are in the UK you need to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme . Once you have met the settled status residence requirement you can then apply for settled status. Should you choose to do so, you can go onto apply for British citizenship.
The family permit is a stamp or vignette in your passport that enables you to enter the UK. Once in the UK you now normally only have three months within which to make your pre-settled status application under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Who qualifies as a family member to apply for a family permit under the Surrinder Singh route?
Immigration lawyers can advise on whether you meet the eligibility criteria for a Surrinder Singh route application for a family permit and, if not, what your alternative family or work visa options are.
Broadly speaking you may qualify as a family member under the immigration rules (and therefore eligible to apply for a family permit) if you fall within the categories of people in Appendix EU( family permit). For example:
- You are the husband or wife or civil partner of a qualifying British citizen and your marriage or civil partnership was entered into before the 31 January 2020 and your relationship is ongoing.
- If you are in an unmarried relationship with a qualifying British citizen and you were cohabiting with your partner for at least two years before the 31 January 2020. Your relationship must be ongoing.
- A child who is under the age of twenty-one.
- A dependent relative but there are strict and complicated rules about the definition of a dependant relative under the Surrinder Singh route and the required date when the dependency began.
Immigration solicitors urge you to act now
If you are a non-EEA national who is living in the EU with a British citizen and you think that your family wants to move back to the UK then its important to check whether:
- You qualify for the Surrinder Singh route.
- The 29 March 2022 deadline applies to your family permit application.
- You have alternative visa options available to you, such as a spouse visa or skilled worker visa application, and if you meet the eligibility criteria to apply for an alternate visa. If you do then this could take the time pressure off you and your family to return to the UK but remember the eligibility criteria for a spouse visa or skilled worker visa can be more onerous than applying for a family permit and then submitting a pre-settled status application.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors