UK voters have chosen to exit the EU. We can therefore expect that all existing arrangements between the EU and the UK, including those relating to immigration, will be reviewed in the coming years.
Under current legislation, EEA nationals and their family members who have resided in the UK for at least five years in accordance with EEA Regulations automatically acquire permanent residence. They are therefore eligible to make an application for a permanent residence card or document certifying permanent residence and such a document is required in order to be able to naturalise as a British citizen. Prior to November 2015, EEA nationals did not have to obtain a permanent residence card and could instead proceed directly with an application to naturalise as a British citizen when they had resided in the UK for a total period of six years.
The outcome of the referendum will not change the current position in the immediate future but does of course mean that there are likely to be significant changes in the future. Whilst the detail is very much to be decided, the rules relating to EEA nationals who are already in the UK but will not have acquired permanent residence by the time the changes are implemented and those who wish to come to the UK may be quite different to the current concept of Free Movement.
The current process for obtaining a permanent residence card or document certifying permanent residence can take up to six months. EEA nationals and their dependents who have acquired permanent residence and wish to remain in the UK in the long term, especially those who wish to become British citizens, should consider making applications for a permanent residence card/document certifying permanent residence and to naturalise as a British citizen sooner rather than later.
Information about the application process for a permanent residence card, a document certifying permanent residence or an application to naturalise as a British citizen can be found here.
According to data recently released by the Home Office, just under 25% of applications for permanent residence cards and documents certifying permanent residence are refused. If you require advice and assistance, please contact us.