Permanent residence is a legal status under EU freedom of movement law. Brexit is changing how permanent residence in the UK works for EU and EEA citizens. If you live in the UK and want to stay here permanently, our immigration solicitors can advise on your options. We can also advise businesses on how to help their EU or EEA employees settle in the UK.
Currently, EU and EEA citizens automatically qualify for permanent residence if they’ve lived in the UK for five years continuously. This lets you:
- Live and work in the UK permanently
- Become eligible to naturalise as a British citizen
- Give your UK-born children the chance to acquire British citizenship, by birth or through registration
- Access welfare, education and the NHS.
However, permanent residence isn’t enough if you want to stay in the UK permanently after Brexit.
Whether you already have permanent residence or not, you’ll need to apply for settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. You may also have the option to apply for full British citizenship.
Everyone’s situation is different and we understand how difficult these decisions can be when your family and your career are involved. Our experienced solicitors will get to know you and your plans for the future before advising on the best option for you. We can guide you through any applications you need to make, explaining each step in plain English.
If you employ EU or EEA citizens, you may be worried about how these immigration issues could impact your business. We can advise on how to support your staff through their applications to minimise disruption and manage what can be stressful distractions.
Call us on 0370 1500 100 for a confidential discussion to find out more, or contact us online and we’ll call you back.
Who Can Apply?
You can get permanent residence or settled status in the UK if you are a citizen of either an EU or EEA country and you have been living in the UK for five years continuously. If you are applying for permanent residence you must also have been working, self-employed, self-sufficient or studying for this period.
Switzerland isn’t part of either the EU or the EEA, but it is part of the EU single market. This means that if you’re a Swiss national, you’ll also be able to apply to live and work in the UK indefinitely.
If you’re a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and you’ve also lived in the UK for five years, we may be able to help you too.
Our lawyers can advise on whether you qualify for permanent residence or settled status and if not, what your other options are. Contact us online to find out more.
What Are My Options?
Permanent residence alone won’t allow you to stay in the UK after the 30 June 2021. Whether you already have permanent residence or not, you’ll need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme or for full British citizenship instead.
The EU Settlement Scheme
This scheme lets you stay in the UK indefinitely, even after Brexit. If you apply before the deadline of 30 June 2021, you’ll either be given ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’:
- Settled Status – if you’ve been in the UK at least five years when you apply
- Pre-settled status – if you’ve lived in the UK since before 31 December 2020 but for less than five years.
Settled status lets you stay in the UK indefinitely straight away. If you have settled status, you can also spend up to five years outside the country before losing your right to live in the UK.
Pre-settled status lets you stay in the UK for a further five years from the date of issue. You can however apply for settled status as soon as you qualify for it. While you have pre-settled status, you can only leave the country for up to two years before losing your immigration status. However, if you wish to apply for settled status, prolonged absences (i.e. over six months in a 12 month period) will affect your application.
Visit our EU/EEA Immigration page for more information on the EU settlement scheme, and how we can help you apply.
Naturalisation as a British citizen
If you’ve already had permanent residence for at least 12 months and have a permanent residence card, you can apply to become a British citizen instead of applying for settled status, provided you apply before 31 December 2020.
You’ll need to prove:
- That you’re currently settled in the UK
- That you’ve been in the UK at least five years
- How much time you’ve spent outside the UK during those five years.
Naturalisation applications can be complicated and proving that you qualify can be difficult. Our lawyers can guide you through step-by-step and make sure you have all the right documents to prove your UK residency.
If you're not an EEA citizen and want to live in the UK permanently, there may be other visas or routes to citizenship available. Our immigration team are highly experienced in helping non-EEA citizens, so we’ll help you find the best option for you.
Why Choose Us?
The Home Office will closely examine any applications they get, and any mistakes could mean stressful delays. We have years of experience in preparing successful applications and can help you secure your future in the UK as quickly as possible.
We can advise you on what evidence you need to prove your five year residency and how to present it to the Home Office. If you can’t apply for permanent residence or citizenship, we can advise on other options. In some cases, we can help you appeal if you’ve already applied and been unfairly refused.
If your business has EEA or Swiss employees, residency issues could pose a real difficulty for you and your workforce. Our team can offer commercially-minded advice to help you manage this risk and support your staff. The changes to permanent residence could impact your long-term recruitment strategy, and we can work closely with you to plan for the future of your business.
We take the time to really understand your situation, so you get advice that’s tailored to you. We’ll explain everything to you in plain English and update you with every development, so you’ll always know exactly where you stand.
Immigration concerns can be stressful enough by themselves but often involve other legal questions about taxes, property, or family as well. We work with specialists in areas of law so you can get all the advice you need without the hassle of managing multiple different firms.
Your immigration status is vital to your career and way of life, so give yourself the peace of mind of having a top team on your side. We’re ranked among the UK’s best immigration solicitors in independent legal directories, Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, and we’re ready to help.
For a confidential discussion about your situation, contact our immigration team on 0370 1500 100. Alternatively, fill in our online contact form, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.