Requirements for obtaining Permanent Residence
Permanent Residence is the right to settle permanently and continue living in an EU member state irrespective of one’s economic activity or status. If you are an EU/EEA national who has lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years as a qualified person in accordance with free movement rules, you automatically acquire Permanent Residence.
This means that you must have been residing continuously in the UK for any 5 years as a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or student with comprehensive sickness insurance, or be the family member of such an EU citizen.
There is no requirement for you to stay in the same qualifying category for the whole duration of 5 years or to have been residing in the UK for the 5 years preceding your application. As long as you have spent any 5 years in any (or several) of the above listed categories, you can obtain Permanent Residence by law.
To obtain formal confirmation of your Permanent Residence status or if you wish to apply for British citizenship, you must first apply for a Permanent Residence card. Apart from the possibility of naturalisation after one further year of residence in the UK once you have obtained a Permanent Residence card, having such a card does not give you any additional rights. However, it may be desirable to apply for a Permanent Residence card for administrative convenience and peace of mind in the light of Brexit and upcoming changes in immigration law.
Time spent abroad during the 5-year continuous residence period
You must have legally resided in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years, i.e. without interruption, in order to gain Permanent Residence. If you move away from the UK before completing the 5-year period and return at a later date, the clock will start anew and the time you have previously spent in the UK will not count towards the required 5 years.
Permitted absences of up to 6 months
You are allowed to spend time outside of the UK so long as these periods of absence do not exceed 6 months at any one time. It does not matter how much time you spend outside of the UK in total during the required 5-year continuous residence period provided you return each time after a maximum of 6 months.
What happens if you have spent longer than 6 months abroad?
Periods spent abroad which exceed 6 months do not automatically disqualify you from acquiring Permanent Residence. The Home Office has some discretion when deciding what constitutes an actual departure from, and thus genuine interruption of, your continuous stay in the UK.
Certain circumstances, such as maternity leave, military service in your home country or time spent abroad which was necessary for your work or education, may be disregarded and not interrupt the 5-year period.
However, it is important that you provide strong justification and supporting evidence for any long periods of absence from the UK in order to avoid them breaking your continuous 5-year residence in the UK.
How can NA Law Solicitors help?
We understand that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the end of free movement of persons in the UK is a great cause of concern for many EU/EEA nationals residing in this country.
Our team of specialist immigration lawyers have built a special expertise in the area of national and EU migration law and will provide you with honest, practical and cost-effective advice on the latest developments regarding your current and future rights as an EU/EEA national in the UK.
We can assist you with your application for a Permanent Residence card, help you challenge negative decisions and advise you on your options if you do not yet meet any of the necessary requirements.
Please contact us for a free initial 15-minute consultation to discuss your case.