Permanent Residence & British Citizenship for EEA nationals

As reported previously important changes have been made to Immigration legislation for all EEA nationals as well as their non-EEA family members who may be looking to make an application for British Citizenship. The change in the Immigration Rules means that where EEA nationals and/or their non-EEA family members wish to make an application for British citizenship they must first obtain what is known as a permanent residence card for a certain period of time. After the said period they will then be able to make an application for British Citizenship or to register as British Citizens. This change was introduced by the British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015.

EEA Permanent Residence

The change in immigration legislation may be due to the increase in the number of EEA citizens who have made applications to naturalise as British Citizens. EEA applications can be made under  Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (“Regulations”) and the Free Movement of Person’s Directive 2004/38/EC (“Directive”). Many applicants may need to make an EEA family permit application before entering the country. However there are provisions available to switch into an EEA2 residence card for some individuals who have leave to remain in the UK under certain categories. An EEA Residence Card allows an individual to stay in the UK for 5 years whilst their partner continues to reside with them and is exercising their treaty rights under the 2006 Regulations. Upon completion of the 5 years, an applicant may be eligible for permanent residence. The right can only be lost where an applicant is absent from the Member State in question for two years, or as a result of a public order expulsion.

In the United Kingdom, the immigration rules governing a right of permanent residence fall under Regulation 15 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (EEA Regulations). Regulation 18 of the EEA Regulations governs the documents which can be held as evidence of a right of permanent residence. In the case of EEA citizens, this is known as a “document certifying permanent residence”, for non-EEA family member; this is  known as a “permanent residence card”.

British citizenship & the EEA Regulations

EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members who have been residing and exercising their treaty rights in the UK for lengthy periods of time will no longer acquire British Citizenship from their lengthy periods of residence. There is therefore now an additional application that must be considered by EEA nationals, even where EEA nationals may have been residing in the UK for a period of more than 10 years they will still have to adhere to this additional step of obtaining a permanent residence card by making an application to the Home Office. The Home Office then requires the EEA national to hold the said residence card for an additional year before they can apply for naturalisation.

The change in legislation has been brought in by the Home Office to help reduce the lengthy delays that may be created in applying for the naturalisation process. The requirement of a permanent residence card means that there will be less complexity in calculating the right to permanent residence and thus British Citizenship for an EEA national.

It is a good idea for EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members to complete this process as it will make the naturalisation and registration process simple in the long run.

For naturalisation purposes those who make naturalisation applications on or after 12 November 2015 must demonstrate their right of permanent residence must be evidenced through the forms of document mentioned under the EEA 2006 Regulations. The 2006 EEA Regulation itself has not changed nor have the provisions governing acquisition of citizenship by children.

There is an additional fee of £65 which applicants will be required to pay and although the fee of application is not a costly one the application process itself is rather complicated. The 85 page long application is not only document intensive but also confusing for applicants. They will also need to temporarily give up their passport or identity card. The process can also be subject to delay, including because the Directive and the Regulations provide the Home Office with six months to issue non-EEA permanent residence cards.

UK Immigration Legal Advice for Naturalisation and British Citizenship

Choosing the right law firm from the beginning can ensure the correct applications are made from the outset this will not only allow for an easy mind in preparing for an application, but will also mean that in the long run applicants will save time and money with a specialist law firm who follow the strict letter of the law and the Solicitors Regulations Guidelines. Many Applicants make the mistake of providing insufficient documentation and thus fail to evidence their recognised entitlement to apply for permanent residence or British Citizenship.

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers bear in mind the paramount duty of all legal representatives to act in your best interest whilst complying with the strict letter of the law. Our team of specialists can be distinguished from other law firms with our client tailored approach and scrutiny of options available to you from the outset. We will be able to advise you in respect of the merits of your application by providing you with advice from our leading team of barristers before your matter even reaches the Home Office.

If you require assistance with an application for permanent residence or British Citizenship you can contact us to discuss your case so that we can provide you with a case assessment. To contact one of our Immigration Solicitors or Immigration Barristers please complete our legal case assessment form and we will get in touch or call us now on 02071830570 for a telephone assessment.

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