We are regularly asked if there is any risk to EU nationals who wish to live in the UK on a long term basis but do not apply for a document certifying permanent residence or permanent residence card.
In its press release issued soon after the UK voted to leave the EU, the government stated that:
‘EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 5 years automatically have a permanent right to reside. This means that they have a right to live in the UK permanently, in accordance with EU law. There is no requirement to register for documentation to confirm this status’.
However, according to Home Office data, just under a quarter of applications for a permanent residence card or document certifying permanent residence are refused.
Whilst the reasons for refusals may vary from case to case, the refusal decision means that the applicant is left in the position of being unable to demonstrate that the UK government regards them as a permanent resident. In many refusal cases this firm is instructed to assist with, it is possible to make representations to the Home Office and submit further evidence. This will often lead to the refusal being overturned and the applicant will then receive a document certifying permanent residence or permanent residence card.
In view of the data referred to above, we strongly advise EU nationals who wish to remain in the UK on a long-term basis to apply for evidence of their status now, while the UK remains a member of the EU, rather than taking the risk that the UK government may not accept that they have acquired permanent residence once the UK has left the EU.
Whilst no one knows at this point in time what the precise effect of the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have on EU nationals who have made the UK their home, it is extremely unlikely that the UK government would wish to – or indeed be able to – seek to remove those who it accepts have acquired permanent residence. Holding a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card may be key to proving that status in the future.
Information on how to make an application is here.
For advice and assistance on this area of law, please contact us.