EU Permanent Residence Documents
Until the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, qualifying EU (and EEA) nationals and their family members who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of at least five years can apply for an EU Permanent Residence Card (for EU nationals, the document is called a ‘Document Certifying Permanent Residence’. We refer to them as cards for ease).
This will act as evidence that they are entitled to stay in the UK indefinitely and will also enable them to apply to naturalise as a British citizen if desired. For information on the legal process that will apply after the UK leaves the EU, please see our Brexit Immigration Analysis.
In order to make an application for an EU Permanent Residence Card, an applicant must generally be able to demonstrate that:
- they are an EU national or the family member of an EU national;
- they have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years (unless an exception applies);
- they have been absent from the UK for no more than 6 months in each relevant year (unless an exceptional applies); and
- if an EU national, they have been exercising their treaty rights throughout the five years or, if a family member, they have been living with an EU national who has been excercising treaty rights.
In order to show that the EU national has been exercising their treaty rights, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that throughout the five year period relied upon that person has been a worker, job seeker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person, a student or a combination of any of the above.
Where the EU national has spent time as a student or self-sufficient person, they must be able to demonstrate that they met the Home Office’s requirements in relation to comprehensive sickness insurance during the time they were a student or a self-sufficient person.
Retained Rights of Residence
Some family members of EU citizens can apply for an EU Permanent Residence Card on the basis of retained rights of residence in the UK.
You may have a Retained Right of Residence if, for example:
- your marriage or civil partnership to an EU citizen has ended (with a divorce, annulment or dissolution);
- your EU family member has died and you lived in the UK as their family member for at least one year before their death;
- you are in education and you’re the child of an EU citizen (or their current or former spouse or civil partner) who has left the UK or died;
- your child has a retained right of residence because they are re in education in the UK (and you have custody of them).
To demonstrate that you have a Retained Right of Residence you will need to prove:
- that your family member, or extended family member, was a permanent resident or qualified person at the time your family relationship ended;
- how the relationship ended, for example a death certificate or decree absolute if you divorced.
You can only retain your right of residence as an extended family member if both the following apply:
- you currently hold a valid residence card as the extended family member of an EU national;
- you meet all of the relevant conditions.
An EU Permanent Residence Card will prove the applicant’s right to live in the UK free from immigration control. The card is valid for 10 years from the date of issue and must then be renewed.
If an applicant spends more than two consecutive years outside of the UK they will lose their right to live in the UK permanently. Applicants may also lose their right to live in the UK permanently if they breach immigration rules.
Under current legislation, an individual who holds an EU Permanent Residence Card is able to stay in the UK indefinitely. They will be eligible to apply for British citizenship after demonstrating that they have been free of immigration restrictions for 12 months, unless married to a British citizen in which case they are eligible to apply to naturalise immediately.
Processing times and passport retention
The Home Office is typically taking from three to six months to process the majority of applications. It is however possible in certain circumstances, for an EU national, and their family member if applying together, to use the EU passport return service in order to retain their passport for travel whilst the application is being considered.
EU Permanent Residence Card applications: How we can help
The Home Office will carefully scrutinise applications for EU Permanent Residence Cards. If it does not consider that the evidence provided sufficiently demonstrates that the above requirements have been met, the application will fall for refusal. It is therefore essential that any application is prepared thoroughly and carefully.
We are experienced in preparing applications for EU Permanent Residence Cards to ensure a successful outcome and will provide expert guidance and assistance to you throughout the process.
For further advice, please contact us.