As we move towards the deadline set by the UK Parliament for exiting the European Union, European Economic Area nationals, commonly referred to as European Union (EU) nationals should be aware of how this change may affect them. As most EEA/EU nationals may already be aware, the UK will be leaving the EU on Friday, 29th March 2019 and EEA Immigration in the UK will change. This is subject to the UK and the EU vacating this date which must be agreed by all the remaining Members States of the EU. For the purpose of clarity the EEA includes EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein who are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Switzerland is however not in the EU or EEA but its citizens enjoy the same rights as citizens of EEA countries.
What is the current position of EEA Nationals and their non–EEA Family Members before the UK exits the EU?
The position in relation to EEA nationals and their non–EEA Family Members resident in the UK on or before 29th March 2019 is largely clear. This category of EEA migrants includes those who would have been here for up to 5 years before 29th March 2019 and those resident here for less than 5 years. It is important to stress from the onset that EEA nationals must satisfy two main requirements. Firstly, they must be exercising “Treaty Rights” and secondly they must be resident in the UK. EEA nationals exercising Treaty Rights are referred to as “Qualified Persons”. Qualified persons include EEA nationals who are Workers, Self – Employed persons, Self–Sufficient persons and Students. It is very important to note that EEA nationals who are Self–Sufficient persons and Students will only be deemed to be Qualified persons if they hold European Healthcare Cover Insurance (EHIC).
These two sub – categories must hold EHIC for the entire consecutive 5 year period to qualify for Permanent Residence. EEA migrants who have been exercising Treaty Rights for 5 continuous years and have been resident in the UK during this period will automatically acquire Permanent Residence and should apply for a document confirming they have Permanent Residence. Those who have not been resident in the UK for up to five years should apply for a document certifying their residence known as a Registration Certificate. Non–EEA Family members who have been resident with their EEA Family Member may also apply for Permanent Residence if they have been in the UK for a period of up to five years or a Residence Card if not. Non–EEA Family Members will only be able to make a successful application for either of these documents if their EEA Family member has remained a Qualified Person for the relevant period, whether this is for a period of 5 years or less. EEA nationals and their non–EEA Family Members will still be able to apply for Permanent Residence after 29th March 2019 (post-Brexit) after they have completed the five year period.
What rights will EEA Nationals and their non–EEA Family Members if they arrive in the UK after 29th March 2019?
The position in relation to EEA nationals and their non–EEA Family Members post 29th March 2019 is still evolving and remains the subject of negotiation between the UK and EU. The Transition period which commences once the UK leaves the EU should end on 31st December 2020. The UK Government has however stated in a policy document published on 28th February 2018 that EEA nationals and their non–EEA Family members will be able to enter and remain in the UK on the same terms as they currently enjoy until the end of the transition period.
What should I do if I am an EEA national currently resident in the UK?
EEA nationals and their non–EEA Family members will be subject to a Registration Scheme in due course, however it is advisable for them to apply for documents confirming their exercise of Treaty Rights before the mandatory scheme is required. In others words they should take steps to obtain documents Certifying their Residence in the UK and Permanent Residence as the case maybe. Their dependents should also obtain Residence Cards. The benefits of doing so now are that they will be in a position to confirm that they have been in the UK prior to the cut – off date in March 2019. This will make it easier to provide evidence regarding their Immigration status when a compulsory scheme is introduced post-Brexit. For those who have been here for five years they should apply for a document confirming they have Permanent Residence which is a stepping stone to British citizenship that can be applied for 1 year after being deemed to have held Permanent Residence.
Using Legal Representation to Make an EEA Immigration Application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a UK EEA Immigration application.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your UK EEA Immigration application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your UK EEA Immigration application meets the necessary requirements.
Successful EEA Immigration Applications
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your UK EEA Immigration application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your UK EEA Immigration application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
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. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to a successful EEA Settled Status Document application. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.