Until Brexit, permanent residence automatically allowed EU members the right to live permanently in the UK once they had resided here for five years and exercised certain EU Treaty rights (such as working, self-sufficiency or study in the UK). This automatic right happened even if the person was absent from the UK for up to six months during the five-year period.
It used to be that proof of permanent residency was not compulsory to apply for British Citizenship. However, as of 12 November 2015, documentation that certifies permanent residence status is required, with applications taking up to six months to complete.
I have indefinite leave to remain – how do I apply for citizenship?
Another option is where the person has been granted indefinite leave to remain or has permission to move to the UK permantely from another country. Under such circumstances, you will need to prove you were in the UK precisely five years before the date the Home Office receives your application, have passed the life in the UK test, and prove your knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.
Married to a UK citizen
Non-EU citizens married to a UK citizen could also apply for indefinite leave to remain on a spouse visa, which can then be used for a British citizenship application.
EU residents married to UK citizens used to live in the UK with all the rights of their partners without needing to go through any legal confirmation of their residence status. However, Brexit has changed all of this for EU nationals in this country.
Once the transition period for Brexit has ended, permanent residence documentation will no longer be accepted in UK citizenship applications from 31 December 2020. This is because the UK will no longer adhere to EU law and it is this that covers the free movement of EU citizens. EU citizens, therefore, need to follow the new process to gain UK citizenship.
EU Settlement Scheme
The UK has developed a new scheme that will be necessary for any EU citizen that wishes to remain in the UK. It is worth noting that this also applies to EU citizens that are married to UK nationals. Under the EU Settlement Scheme, those that have lived here for less time than five years will be given pre-settled status, which will change to settled once the five-year period has passed. To get pre-settled status, you only need to prove you have live in the UK for one day in the last six months.
Once you get pre-settled status, you can live and work in the UK for five years, after which you can apply for settled status if you plan to stay longer. If you wish to apply for British citizenship, then you typically have to have lived in the UK for a further 12 months after receiving your settled status.
The applicant has to fill in an online form and provide proof of residence. After complaints, the Government has abolished the fee so the whole process is free. The application deadline is the 31 December 2020 if there is no deal or 30 June 2021 if there is a deal.
Contact our Immigration Lawyers in London
UK citizenship applications for EU citizens will hopefully be a smooth process, as long as the requirements are met within the deadline and the correct documentation is supplied. However, immigration law and the impact of Brexit still is a complicated area and there can be circumstances that are more unusual and impact on the ease of an application.
For any UK citizenship application, it is always necessary to show that the person has the right to remain. For EU citizens, this will generally be done via the settled status route, which is replacing permanent residence.
If you have any questions surrounding UK citizenship applications, our team can guide and assist you through the process and deal with any issues that arise. Please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 020 3972 9011 to see how we can help you.