From “strong and stable” to “fair and serious”, Theresa May made an opening offer on the futures of EEA nationals in the United Kingdom that EU leaders probably could refuse. The Prime Minister’s offer was lacking in the detail that had been proffered by her EU counterparts, and made no mention of the retention of the indivisible rights that EEA nationals currently enjoy. In fact, Mrs May’s offer pointed to a new direction in United Kingdom immigration law, with the introduction of a new UK settled status for EEA nationals. Whilst there is still some way to go before negotiations are concluded, with this new direction being taken it is clear now that an EEA Registration Certificate or EEA Permanent Residence application should be a priority for EEA nationals and their family members.
What is The New UK Settled Status for EEA Nationals?
The Queen’s Speech, delivered on 19 June 2017, pointed to the introduction of a new Immigration Act, one that is specifically designed with the futures of EEA nationals in mind. Theresa May’s opening gambit on the future of EEA nationals in the United Kingdom seemingly confirmed this, as she talked of a new ‘UK settled status’ that would grant EU migrants who have lived in the United Kingdom for five years the rights to access health, education and other benefits. It is quite clear that UK settled status is a new category being planned, one that will be the centrepiece of negotiations regarding the future of EEA nationals.
So far, little is known about the new UK settled status category, though some details have emerged. Theresa May stated that EEA nationals who have resided in the United Kingdom for five years by the date of Brexit, will be able to keep their full rights under the UK settled status category. EEA nationals who have resided in the United Kingdom for less than five years by the date of Brexit, however, will be given a ‘grace period’ – likely to be two years – in order to allow them to reach the five year qualifying period and regularise their status in the United Kingdom. This means that all EEA nationals currently in the United Kingdom today or who will arrive before Brexit is enacted will have the opportunity to regularise their status under the new rules.
What can EEA Nationals do to Regularise Their Status?
It is thought that the general election result, which was hardly an endorsement of the current government, will lead to a softening of their stance on Brexit. The appointment of Eurosceptic MP Steve Baker as Junior Minister for Brexit does not necessarily mean that is the case. It is encouraged, then, that EEA nationals who have not otherwise done so apply for an EEA Registration Certificate or EEA Permanent Residence in order to confirm their status in the United Kingdom. Whilst the United Kingdom still remains in the EU, the rights of EEA nationals will remain unaffected.
Apply for an EEA Registration Certificate
In the light of Brexit, an EEA Registration Certificate has assumed far greater importance than it had previously. The EEA Registration Certificate confirms an EEA national’s status as a qualified person, meaning someone who is exercising Treaty rights in the United Kingdom as a worker, a student, or someone who is self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for a job. It is also possible to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate as the family member of a qualified person, enabling that family member to also confirm their status in the United Kingdom. For EEA nationals who will not meet the five year qualifying period by March 2019, holding an EEA Registration Certificate will be important proof of status, and should be considered a necessity.
Apply for EEA Permanent Residence
Any EEA national who has had five years of continuous residence as a qualified person should apply for EEA Permanent Residence as a matter of priority. Doing so will allay any fears that EEA nationals may have regarding their status once Brexit has been enacted, and successfully applying for EEA Permanent Residence is also the first step towards acquiring British citizenship, which can be acquired after a further year of continuous residence.
According to the Home Office guidance, there is now a ten year qualifying period for EEA Permanent Residence. This perhaps shows that the current five year qualifying period will be replaced, and that once Brexit has been enacted EEA nationals will need to qualify either under the UK settled status category, or through the ten year qualifying period. Rather than cause worry, this should act only as encouragement for EEA nationals to apply for an EEA Residence Certificate or EEA Permanent Residence, and regularise their status in the United Kingdom.
Using Legal Representation to Apply for an EEA Registration Certificate or Permanent Residence in the United Kingdom
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 apply for an EEA Registration Certificate or Permanent Residence in the United Kingdom.
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 Immigration Rules.
Successfully Apply for an EEA Registration Certificate or Permanent Residence in the United Kingdom
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 02071830570 or complete our contact form.