The British government has decided that once the UK leaves the EEA (European Economic Area), the current scheme of EEA Permanent Residence will come to an end. In the meantime though, you can still apply for a certificate. In this article we are going to look at the current processing times for EEA Permanent Residence applications and we will look at the scheme in wider detail. We'll also be looking at what is likely to replace the current system once the UK leaves the EEA.
Like most applications that are sent to UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration), EEA Permanent Residence applications can take quite a significant amount of time to be processed (think months rather than weeks). The reason for this is two-fold: There is a high number of applications currently going through the visa system and significant funding cuts in all Government departments mean that the department has fewer staff than in recent memory and is struggling to cope.
The announcement of Britain's intention to leave the European Union (and EEA) meant that there was a rush from current EEA nationals living in the UK trying to secure their long-term status in the UK. Though the British government has now confirmed that the scheme (and any certificates already issued) will cease to be valid, there is still a rush to apply due to the potentially false belief that having the certificate will secure long-term status in the UK.
EEA Permanent Residence is a scheme that was established that allowed an EEA citizen or a "qualified person" (usually either EEA citizens or extended family members of EEA citizens) to establish their right to live in the UK without having to worry about having a visa. The scheme has been somewhat successful, but with Britain on the verge of leaving the European Union (and the EEA), the scheme will be coming to a close and there is currently little information on what is going to replace it.
The scheme in its current guise allows either an EEA citizen or a "qualified person" to apply for a certificate that demonstrates their right to remain in the UK. This right is to live and work the same as any other EEA citizen and allows them to exercise their rights under the freedom of movement rules. While there are no plans for a direct replacement for the scheme, the British government has promised that all EEA citizens will retain their rights to remain in the UK if they're already here. This was thought likely to spike an increase in net migration to the UK, but so far this has failed to materialise. The reasons for this are numerous and often complicated.
To be eligible under the qualified route, you will need to be able to prove your eligibility in the following areas;
Or any of the following and you come from an EEA country (or Switzerland)
As long as you qualify under any of the above scenarios, you will be entitled to make an application for Permanent Residence in the UK.
As stated above, you will need to either be an EEA citizen or a "qualified person" these two terms usually mean the same thing. The only exception is when you are a family member of an EEA citizen but are not originally from the EEA yourself. This is often as the result of marriages. This list below covers the extended family members that are allowed to apply for Permanent Residence:
As long as you fall under any of these criteria, you should be able to apply for Permanent Residence in the UK. If you need to check eligibility, please get in touch and our immigration specialists will be happy to talk to you about your individual case.
At this stage it is pretty hard to imagine what the future strategy will be of the British government. So far the Government have struggled to put together a coherent plan on the future of freedom of movement to and from the EEA and there is still plenty to discuss for the negotiators who are currently dealing with Britain's exit from the European Union.
What is clear is that there will be a transitional period after the date of Britain's official exit from the European Union in March 2019. This transitional period is required to deal with the huge changes that are required for the UK to change the many rules and regulations that it has that are currently harmonised alongside the EU. In many cases, the UK will simply copy and paste laws into its own constitution. But immigration is a huge topic and will undoubtedly look very different after the UK completely exits from the bloc. The British government has though repeatedly assured that current EEA citizens in the UK will be unaffected by any changes.
The application fee is £65 per applicant and is payable at the time that the application is made. You can make an application by either using a form that can be downloaded from the gov.uk website or you can make an application in person at a premium service centre. If you need help with your application then please get in touch and we can help you.
If you need more help with a Permanent Residence application, or indeed any other visa or immigration query then please get in touch. Our experienced immigration solicitors can help with your case and can offer advice and support to assist with your situation. So, for more information, or to get started using our services, please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.