With the process around Brexit moving forward, a greater sense of urgency exists for European Union nationals who live in the United Kingdom to apply for citizenship. Compounding the urgency are the ambiguous implications the British pullout from the EU has for immigrants living and working in the country. British officials don’t yet offer guidance to EU nationals in terms of requirements for staying in the UK after the completion of Brexit. However, reported comments from Home Secretary Amber Rudd say “some sort of documentation” will be necessary for those living in the country through the exercise of their EU treaty rights.
Up until November of 2015, EU citizens living in the UK for six years or longer could directly apply for British citizenship. Since then, however, EU nationals categorized as having Indefinite Leave to Remain under British immigration rules have been required to apply for a Permanent Residence Card prior to filing a citizenship application with immigration authorities.
Applying for Permanent Residence in the UK is similar to applying for the Indefinite Leave to Remain status. Applicants who are granted Permanent Residency have no restrictions attached to leave in the UK.
Permanent Residency for EU nationals requires five years of continuous residence in the UK as a European Economic Area (EEA) national who is one of these:
- A qualified person– worker, self-employed individual, self-sufficient, student or jobseeker
- A former worker or self-employed individual in the UK who has retired or who is permanently incapacitated, or who works in another EEA state but still retains a UK residence.
EU nationals who qualify for Permanent Residency are advised to apply for the status as soon as possible to avoid any unforeseen hiccups due to Brexit.
The Life in the UK test and English language test aren’t part of the Permanent Resident requirements for EU citizens seeking Permanent Residency in the UK. Both are required with British citizenship applications, however.
EU nationals living in the UK and who don’t currently hold EEA Registration Certificates can most likely avoid issues due to Brexit by applying for those documents sooner rather than later. The idea here is to establish the Registration Certificate prior to the UK’s departure from the EU.
The UK’s membership in the EU is effective until all exit negotiations are concluded. The membership means all rights and obligations extended to EU citizens remain in effect for the time being.