EEA Permanent Residency

If you are from the European Economic area or Switzerland looking to gain permanent residence, or have a family member with you in the UK and want them to gain settled status/permanent residence, we can assist with assessing the eligibility and in making such an application. If the European national has been working and living in the UK legally for 5 years, you may be eligible for Permanent Residence (PR). The term “exercising treaty rights” is used to describe what the European national must satisfy.

The Requirements:

Yourself or your  European family member will usually be expected to be employed when you apply for PR however; the following may be suitable if they are not;

1. Job seekers Under regulation 6(4) of the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006, you must show that your European Family member is actively seeking employment and has a realistic chance of securing the same. If they do fit into the following criteria, you may qualify to make an application for PR;

  •  registered as a job seeker and were employed for at least a year before becoming unemployed;
  •  have been unemployed for no more than six months, or;
  • can provide evidence that they are seeking employment in the UK and that they have a genuine chance of being engaged.

2. Worker- If your family member is employed, you may qualify to make an application. They must be employed on a full or part-time basis, through the direction of their employer. They must be able to support both you and themselves without recourse to public funds.

If they temporarily lose employment, they may still be regarded as a worker under regulation 6(2) if;

  • temporary because of illness or of an accident;
  • involuntary unemployment and have started vocational training;
  • have voluntarily stopped working and started vocational training related to previous employment.

3. Self-employed person – Your European family member must be registered for income tax and national insurance contributions as self-employed with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). They will be expected to prove self-employed status by way of documentary evidence for example; self-assessment forms submitted to HMRC, invoices to confirm the work/business undertaken, business accounts, an accountant’s letter or bank statements.

Regulation 6(3) of the European Regulations 2006 confirms that if a self-employed EEA national is temporarily unable to work because of illness or an accident, they may still be classed as self-employed.

4. Self-sufficient person – Your family member may be regarded as self-sufficient if you have:

  • sufficient funds to provide for your living expenses without needing to claim benefits in the UK, and
  • have comprehensive sickness insurance in the UK for themselves and any family members.
  • if retired they may qualify as self-sufficient if you have investments and a pension to cover living expenses in the UK.
  • charity work may fall into the self-sufficient category, if they have enough funds to support both you and themselves, or the charity is meeting your living costs.

5. Student – As a student, an EEA national may be eligible for a registration certificate. They must be enrolled with a registered sponsor recognised as a training provider for a course that has started, have sufficient funds to meet living expenses, which can be evidenced by way of bank statements and have comprehensive sickness insurance.

British Citizenship for EU Nationals:

The British Nationality Act 1981 requires a successful applicant for British citizenship to show, amongst other things, that he or she is free from immigration restrictions. Technically, the requirement is set out in paragraph 2(c) of Schedule 1 to the British Nationality Act 1981, which requires an applicant to show that he was not at any time in the period of twelve months so ending subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the period for which he might remain in the United Kingdom.

Citizens of EU and EEA countries and their family members were until 12 November 2015 able to qualify once they had possessed permanent residence for a 12 month period and met all the other requirements. Permanent residence is something that one acquires automatically by operation of law after five years of continuous exercise of EU law rights as a worker, self employed person, self sufficient person or student (or mix of any of these); there is no need to formally apply for it and it is not conferred or granted by the British authorities but by automatic operation of EU law.

From 12 November 2015, however, if a person with at least 12 months of permanent residence wishes to apply for British citizenship he or she first has to apply for a permanent residence certificate or card. This change was introduced by the British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1806). The relevant guidance to Home Office caseworkers has also been at least partially updated: see pages 19 and 22 of that document.

Where an application for naturalisation is made without a permanent residence document where one is required, such applications are now being refused. This means that the fee is lost, not refunded. For some time after the change applications were being returned by the Home Office without being refused but that practice has now ended as of 1 August 2016.

A similar change was then introduced by Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC535 for EEA nationals sponsoring a family member under the Immigration Rules from 12 November 2015 onwards. This will probably affect few people because EU free movement law is a more powerful tool for family migration than the UK rules.

If you need assistance with applying for your immigration visa status or have had a refusal, contact one of our expert advisers for an initial assessment. We will help you to decide what your options are and once you understand your options, will offer you a tailor-made service for the process.

Contact us on 0330 058 3929 or e-mail us at