UK Immigration Updates: Home Office delays in processing EEA Applications

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest announcement confirming that the UK will begin formal negotiations to leave the European Union in March 2017, has resulted in EEA nationals applying to regularise their status in the UK, as expected. The growing uncertainty around the future of EEA nationals has been fuelled by the Prime Minister’s reluctance to comment on the future of  the current Free Movement laws and whether there will be immediate changes. It is astonishing that 4 months on from the EU referendum, EEA nationals are still unaware of their future in the UK and as a result, this has prompted many EEA nationals to apply to regularise their status in the UK. Due to an unprecedented increase in the number of applications, it is likely there will be severe delays in the Home Office processing times of EEA applications. 

UK to begin formal negotiations to leave the European Union

Processing times for EEA applications in the UK

If you have submitted an EEA application you should expect to receive a decision from the Home Office within 6 months from the date you  submit your application. The Home Office must ensure they act in accordance with their statutory obligation which requires a decision to be delivered and a residence document to be issued no later than six months after the date on which the application and documents are received.

The Immigration (EEA) Regulation 2006, paragraph 17 (3) states:

“On receipt of an application under paragraph (1) or (2) and the documents that are required to accompany the application the Secretary of State shall immediately issue the applicant with a certificate of application for the residence card and the residence card shall be issued no later than six months after the date on which the application and documents are received.”

A common query that arises among EEA nationals is whether there any enforcement actions can be taken against the Home Office when there is a failure to meet the prescribed 6-month obligation to make a decision on an application made by an EEA national or their family member.  In theory, you may be entitled to claim damages from the Home Office for consequential losses.  However, in reality, it may not be practical to peruse a legal remedy against the Home Office, it is near impossible to prove damages suffered. In the vast majority of cases, damages is an inadequate remedy as it would be difficult to prove and the main goal is to get a decision on an application. For reasons mentioned above,  it is important you submit your application and supporting documents with the correct guidance as this is likely to increase your chance of submitting a successful application. We regularly assist EEA nationals in submitting successful applications.

Can you apply for a fast-tracked decision on your EEA application

Whilst there is no fast track priority service for EEA applications, there are some circumstances where you can request for an expedited decision. It is important to note that if you request for an expedited decision you will need to demonstrate that there extenuating or compelling circumstances surrounding your application. From our experience, it is difficult to request for an accelerated decision but with the right guidance, it is possible. The Home Office may accept your request where there are family emergencies such family bereavements or illnesses involving immediate family members but will not allow family celebrations or holidays to fall under compelling circumstances.

The UKVI guidance was recently updated on 30 August 2016 and now states that you can request to receive an expedited decision by emailing . You would need to include the following information in your email:

  • Your full name and Date of Birth;
  • Date you submitted your application and recorded delivery number (if relevant); and
  • Application reference number.

Advice from UK Immigration Solicitors on submitting a successful EEA application and requesting an accelerated decision

Our team of 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 EEA application by providing you with advice from our leading team of solicitors before your matter even reaches the Home Office. We can assist you with the preparation of your visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

If you wish to consider your options, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your matter and if necessary advise you of the next steps you should take in a consultation.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

If you need professional legal advice about submitting a EEA application please contact us for a case assessment on 02071830570. You can also reach us via our contact form

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