How Can I Apply For Permanent Residence In The UK?


The Law Of… staying in the UK

Confused and scared of facing an uncertain future, EU nationals living and working in the UK have been left in a state of limbo since the referendum.

Although the Government has confirmed that the rights of EU nationals in the UK will stay the same until the UK formally leaves, this still doesn't answer the question of what could happen post Brexit.

Emma Brooksbank, Partner and Head of Immigration (Leeds), explains how EU nationals can apply for permanent residence now protect their right to remain in the UK.  

What Is Permanent Residence?

Once an EU national has been continuously living and working in the UK for 5 years they automatically acquire the right to stay in the UK – this is known as permanent residence.

If you have been living in the UK as one of the following you'll be able to gain permanent residence:

  • Worker
  • Self-employed
  • Student with comprehensive sickness insurance
  • Self-sufficient person with comprehensive sickness insurance

If you have been a job seeker for short periods of time, you can still be granted permanent residence.

Do I Need To Apply For A Permanent Residence Card?

A permanent residence card is optional for EU nationals and only confirms a person’s permanent residence status.

If you'd like to stay in the UK after Brexit, it's a good idea to consider applying for this card just to make sure that there are no problems for you in terms of securing permanent residence.

"If any issues arise during the process, it's important not to panic", Emma explains.

"It is generally better to find out about these problems sooner rather than later, and take the appropriate steps to resolve them before the UK leaves the EU."

How Can I Become A British Citizen?

Our Immigration team is finding that a lot of people don't just want to acquire permanent residence – they want to naturalise as British citizens.

Before you can apply for British citizenship, you generally need to have had the status of permanent residence for at least 12 months as well as meeting other conditions.

Since November 2015, it has also been compulsory for anyone applying for British citizenship to include a permanent residence card with their application.

As we've been supporting a growing number of clients with these applications, we can offer you personalised advice and guidance to make sure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

What Types Of Problems Are People Having When Applying For Permanent Residence?  

There are 3 main issues that people are experiencing with the application process:

  1. Comprehensive sickness insurance

    With the Home Office sending out mixed messages on this issue, there's been a lot of confusion recently over whether EU nationals need comprehensive sickness insurance to be able stay in the UK after Brexit.

    If you are a student or self-sufficient individual, it is a legal requirement for you to have comprehensive sickness insurance under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (EEA Regulations).

    If you don't have this insurance, you won't be able to gain permanent residence.

    This particularly affects long-term students, stay-at-home parents, and carers. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to seek legal advice from one of our Immigration experts.

  2. A difficult application process

    The Home Office has made the process much more difficult, including increasing the application to almost 90 pages.

    If you don’t send the correct documentation that the Home Office asks for, it's also very likely that your application will be refused.

  3. Not holding Worker Authorisation

    Between 2004 and 2011, workers from countries that were in the process of joining the EU (known as accession countries), needed to hold Worker Authorisation for the first 12 months of living in the UK as workers.

    We have worked with many clients who either didn't know about the requirement to hold Worker Authorisation or those who had it for less than 12 months or didn't think that they needed it as they thought they were self-employed.

    In these circumstances, any time that you've spent living in the UK up until 2011 won't apply towards permanent residence. This might not necessarily be an issue for everyone as some individuals might have gained permanent residence since 2011, but if you're applying for permanent residence now and think this might affect you, it's important to seek legal advice.

Emma comments:

"The application for permanent residence is now very complicated, which is why we recommend getting some help and advice from one of our Immigration lawyers."

"If any mistakes are made in the application, the fee is non-refundable and you will have to wait several months for a decision."

"When you choose a legal advisor, it's important for you to check that they are a specialist and regulated either by The Law Society, as Simpson Millar is, or by the OISC for non-solicitor advisors."

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