Following the UK’s decision to opt out of the EU, our immigration team has received many enquiries from EEA nationals worried about their immigration status in the UK following Brexit.
In February 2017, the government published its Brexit White Paper which confirmed that in the future, the Free Movement Directive will no longer apply and the migration of EU nationals will be subject to UK law.
So, what happens to those who have been living in the UK for many years and have made the UK their home? EEA nationals can acquire permanent residence after completing 5 years of lawful residence under the European Regulations.
However, the right of permanent residence can be lost if you are absent from the UK for 2 years or more. For the highest level of security, EEA nationals with confirmation of their permanent residence may wish to consider their options of naturalising as British citizens.
Naturalising as a British citizen
Applications for naturalisation are governed by the British Nationality Act 1981; Theresa May has time and time again reiterated that British citizenship is a “privilege, not a right” and the strict eligibility criteria demonstrates that applications are far from straightforward.
If you are an EEA national who has held permanent residency for 6 or more years, you could be eligible to make an application to be naturalised and acquire British citizenship.
British citizenship – the eligibility criteria
As of 12 November 2015, any EEA national wishing to apply for British nationality must be able to produce a document which confirms their permanent residence status in the UK. These applications can take up to 6 months to complete and those wishing to apply for British nationality will not be able to begin their application until their permanent residence is confirmed and they are in possession of a document certifying the same.
If you are an EEA national, you must also demonstrate:
The rules are slightly more relaxed if you are married to a British citizen. If you would like to consider whether you meet the eligibility criteria, please contact us today and arrange a meeting with a member of our business immigration team.
The Home Office’s fee for naturalisation applications is set at £1236. However, this is subject to change and you should always check the fee at the time you submit your application.
Once you have made your application, the Home Office will send you an acknowledgement letter within 4 weeks. The Home Office’s current processing times for naturalisation applications is 6 months but this could take longer if your matter is complex, further enquiries need to be made or if the Home Office have a huge backlog of cases to get through.
How can you help?
Our business immigration solicitors often consult with clients who are confident they meet the eligibility criteria but are unable to produce the relevant evidence (perhaps due to poor record keeping) or they have excessive absences from the UK so they don’t meet the residency requirements.
There are also instances where an applicant is concerned they do not meet the ‘good character’ requirement; our team is well versed in the case law on this area and applicants with such concerns should meet with our solicitors to consider how they should put their application forward.
We understand every case is different, which is why, if instructed, our expert immigration solicitors can help you prepare your application and make detailed representations in support giving you the best chance of success.
Our expert solicitors who are based in London and Reading, are fully authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and are available to consult with you in person at our offices, or via Skype or telephone. To get in touch with our business immigration team, please use the Contact Form opposite or if you prefer, call or email us.