The Two Years EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period To Convert To UK Settled Status

EU citizens looking to apply for EEA Permanent Residence are experiencing a period of uncertainty with regards to their legal rights in the UK. The Government proposes to offer them a EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period of approximately two years to obtain their new residence document, in order legally reside and work in the UK. However, details of this proposal are yet to be clarified, raising more concerns for EU nationals and doubts for the capabilities of the Home Office to be able to handle nearly three million applications.

The Prime Minister Theresa May’s immigration offer on EU citizens was released on 26 June 2017. The Government proposed a ‘Grace Period’ for all the EU citizens currently living in the UK.  It aims to provide a temporary status for EU nationals, allowing them to legally continue living and working in the UK until they acquire the new UK ‘settled status’.  During these complex times, the Home Office has the significant challenge of having to process applications from nearly three million EU citizens by March 2019. However, it is uncertain that the Home Office will be able to cope with the magnitude of these applications. 

EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period

As result of Brexit, free movement in the EU will end and EU citizens will urgently be required to acquire permission to stay in the UK. It is, therefore, easy to assume, that everyone will be hurrying to apply between now and the cut-off date. It is important to note, the cut-off date has yet to be specified by the Government in its proposal; it has only suggested that the specified date will be no earlier than the 29 March 2017, (the date when the formal Article 50 process was triggered for the UK exiting the EU) and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.   

The Prime Minister’s offer has stated, in order to avoid the impracticalities and influx of applications for a UK ‘settled status’, the UK Government will allow an EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period application, or as the UK Government called it “ a period of blanket residence permission”,  that will start immediately once the UK exits the EU. The Proposal, ‘The United Kingdom’s Exit from the European Union’ states, “This will be a generic “umbrella” of temporary leave applying to all existing lawful EU residents (and their families), to give them a grace period between the moment that free movement ends and the time they obtain their residence document- allowing them to remain lawfully in the UK, and continue to undertake their lawful business during that period.”

During this EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period, EU citizens are permitted to continue to work and study in the UK, but they must make an application to the Home Office to obtain permission to continue to reside in the UK or they will have to return to their home country.  Once they obtain this residence permission, the EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period for that individual will expire. It is important to note, the blanket residence permission “will last from exit day for a fixed period of time”. Unfortunately, the uncertainty for EU citizens still remains, as the UK Government has not specified when that period of time expires; they have only stated that it is expected to last for two years and it is not yet clear when the two years process begins as to the UK Government has proposed a backdated start date.

Uncertainty on the Process of the EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period Application

In the meantime, EU citizens still do not know when the online registering application process will begin. The Proposal has not clarified any details about the application process or mentioned any costs of the application. On the other hand, it is certain that all EU citizens will need to apply for the residence document, through this new registration system to guarantee their right to lawfully reside in the UK, regardless if they are currently involved in another permanent residence application process. The UK Government has stated, “EU documents certifying permanent residence will not be automatically replaced with a grant of settled status, but we will seek to make the application process for settle status as streamlined as possible for those who already hold such documents.”

The UK Government is promising to seek a streamlined process, however, it does not clarify what ways the Home Office will be working in efficient and effective working methods and how the new process will be an improvement to the current one for permanent residence. The Institute for Government Paper, “Implementing Brexit: Immigration” (June 2017), clearly reports “The Government should recognise now that a new immigration regime for post-Brexit EU migrants will not be ready by April 2019”. Furthermore, the Paper also importantly points out, “The challenge for the Government is processing a possible three million applications with a system designed to manage a fraction of that. The Home Office needs either significant numbers of additional staff or a redesign of the process or better still, both.”

What is certain is the EU citizens can apply for EEA Permanent Residence under the present EU Regulations and can avoid the inevitable daunting and laborious process the UK Government is likely to introduce with a lengthy application process and high application fees.

Using Legal Representation to apply for EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period Application

In light of the above, it is recommended that EEA nationals concerned about their status in the United Kingdom can seek Legal Representation and take steps to regularising their status in the United Kingdom. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate to prove they have met the five-year qualifying period.

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 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 application meets the new Immigration Rules.

Successfully Apply for EEA Permanent Residence Grace Period Application

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 visa and immigration application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa 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.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. 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 02030110276 or complete our contact form.

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