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What is Surinder Singh Route and How to Apply?

The “Surinder Singh” immigration route closes on 29th March 2022.

As a foreign national who has been living with a British citizen in a European country, you may both be considering your immigration options for returning to the UK. Depending on your exact circumstances, there may be more than one immigration pathway open to you, including the “Surinder Singh” route. Here we will take a closer look at the Surinder Singh route, who it is for, the eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

What is the Surinder Singh route?

The UK’s “Surinder Singh” immigration route allows a foreign national to acquire an EU Settlement Scheme family permit on the basis that they were living in an EU or EEA country with a British citizen prior to 31st December 2020 and now wish to live in the UK.

The route was created following the 1992 High Court case of Surinder Singh, in which it was established that a person’s freedom of movement right to move from one EU member state to another also allowed them to return to their home country under EU law. And because it is EU law that applies, this also meant that eligible family members could join them in the UK.

Eligible family members using the Surinder Singh route can apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit. With an EU Settlement Scheme family permit, it is possible to travel to the UK for up to six months. During this time, permit holders can work, study, and travel in and out of the UK freely. Most importantly, however, once in the UK, an EU Settlement Scheme family permit holder can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled status. With pre-settled status, it is possible to stay for up to 5 years to gain the full period of residence required to settle permanently in the UK. Settled status is awarded after 5 years of residence in the UK and provided permanent settlement (i.e. equivalent to Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR).

Who is Surinder Singh?

The case involved Indian national Mr. Surinder Singh, who, after getting married to a British citizen in 1982, moved with his partner to Germany. After living in Germany for 2 years, they moved back to the UK in 1985. After his leave was curtailed, Mr. Singh appealed on the basis that he had also exercised EU free movement and was, therefore, entitled to remain in the UK. The High Court agreed and found in his favour.

Who can apply for the Surinder Singh route?

To meet the eligibility requirements for the Surinder Singh immigration route for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit, the following must apply:

  • The applicant must be an eligible family member of a British citizen, and
  • The applicant and the British citizen must have been living together in EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein prior to 31st December 2020, and
  • The applicant’s relationship with the British citizen must have started before 1st February 2020

If all of the following criteria are met, applicants have until 29th March 2022 to apply for a family permit to come back to the UK (please note: this cut-off date also applies to children born to or adopted by the British citizen on or after 1st February 2020).

Who is an “eligible family member”?

Eligible family members (of a British national) include any of the following:

  • spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • child or grandchild under 21
  • dependent child or grandchild over 21
  • dependent parent or grandparent
  • another dependent relative

Where an applicant is a spouse, or civil partner, their child or grandchild aged under 21, dependent child or grandchild over 21, or dependent parent or grandparent can also use the Surinder Singh route.

What if my relationship was formed after 31st January 2020?

You may still be able to apply under the Surinder Singh route for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit if your relationship with a British citizen was formed after 31st January 2020 but before the end of 2020.

To do this, the applicant will need to show that they had “reasonable grounds” for not being able to return to the UK before the end of 2020. This may have occurred, for example, due to serious illness or other circumstances outside of your control. This may also be the case where prospective applicants were unable to return to the UK due to COVID-19 illness or travel restrictions.

Given the complex rules under the Surinder Singh route, our team can quickly check your eligibility and explain if you have any other immigration options. Where necessary, we can prepare your application on your behalf and of your family members. Once in the UK, we can then assist with your EU Settlement Scheme application. Speak to one of our family immigration solicitors today on 020 3744 2797.

Surinder Singh application requirements

Before submitting your Surinder Singh application for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit, it is important to ensure that you have all of the documents ready for the UK Home Office. You will need to prepare the following:

  • Proof of identity (e.g. your passport, a valid national identity card
  • Your British family member’s current passport
  • Proof of your relationship to a British citizen (e.g. marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, or birth certificate)
  • Evidence of where you are living together in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the rules specifically state that you must show your main residence was in the EU/EEA). Any evidence you provide to support this must show
    • that you have been living together in that country
    • your address in that country (or time spent living at different addresses)
    • that you rented or purchased a home
  • Proof that your British family member was exercising their treaty rights (i.e. working, self-employed, studying or living self-sufficiently) in the EU/EEA country. This may take the form of documents such as letters from employers, payslips, employment contracts, bank statements, proof of tax registration, or proof of attendance at a place of study.

For a dependent child, grandchild, parent or grandparent, or relative applying under this scheme, you may need to prove that you were dependent on your British family member or their spouse or civil partner by 31st December 2020.

Surinder Singh route step by step

The application process for the EU Settlement Scheme family permit through the Surinder Singh route is as follows:

  1. Complete the Surinder Singh online application form1 (please note you must be outside of the UK when you apply)
  2. Upload your documents (you will be advised which documents to provide as part of the application process)
  3. Fee – there is no fee payable for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit
  4. Book a biometric appointment at your nearest visa application centre
  5. Attend your biometric appointment to provide your fingerprints and photo as soon as possible after you submit your application
  6. Once your application is approved, your passport containing your permit will be sent to you. Your permit will be granted for 4 months if approved more than 3 months before your date of arrival in the UK, or 6 months if granted less than 3 months before your date of arrival.
  7. Once you have your permit, you can travel to the UK
  8. Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status within 3 months of arrival

Surinder Singh route deadline

The deadline for Surinder Single applications is 29th March 2022. You may still be able to apply, however, if you have a genuine reason for not being able to return to the UK by the deadline day, such as illness, accident, or COVID-19 travel restrictions.

If you miss the deadline and you do not have a valid, reasonable ground for a late application, you may have other options available to you. Your main alternative is likely to be the UK family visa, as a spouse, dependant child, or another eligible family member of a British national or a person who has settled in the UK.

We understand the frustration of missing a deadline for an immigration route you were eligible for. We will endeavour to justify a late application on your behalf where possible. If not, in most cases, there will be other immigration options available to you and your family members. Our team will listen to your background, current circumstances, and future plans and advise you of the UK immigration routes you can consider. Speak to one of our family immigration Solicitors today on 020 3744 2797.

References

1 GOV.UK: Surinder Singh online application form

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