Many European Economic Area (EEA) nationals currently living and working in the UK will be concerned about their future after the ouster of UK from the European Union due to Brexit. However, it will take some time for the UK to formally leave the European Union. EEA Nationals are not sure of the outcome and regulations which will be in place once the Brexit is formally implemented. Until such time, EEA Nationals in the UK can continue to exercise their free movement rights by living and working in the UK as hitherto. The picture is vague about the outcome on the citizenship status and other rights available under the EEA agreements.
If you are worried about your future you can take preventive steps as below:
- Those EEA nationals who have been working and living in the UK can apply to permanently settle in the UK. Since 2015 EEA nationals wishing to become British citizens have to apply and attain official confirmation of their Permanent Residence status in the UK.
All these applications for PR and Registration Card currently fall within the ambit of still valid EEA Regulations. Obtaining Permanent Residence or Registration Certificate may also protect the status of the EEA national’s family members, many of them being non-EEA nationals.
- Apply for British citizenship/Naturalisation – If you have lived in the UK for at least 6 years you should be eligible to apply for British Citizenship after you possess the Permanent Residence Card. You can apply for a Permanent Residence Card once you have lived in the UK for 5 years. Once you naturalize you will be granted all the rights of a UK citizen and will be allowed to apply for a British passport.
Eligibility to apply for British Citizenship
You can apply for British Citizenship on the following basis:
- Naturalisation on the basis of marriage with a UK citizen
- Naturalisation on the basis of 6 years legal residency
The applicant must be free of any immigration control i.e. have indefinite leave to remain or Permanent residence status in both the cases.
- You also need to prove that you have not been absent from the UK for more than a total of 450 days during the course of the past 5 years (no more than 270 days outside the UK in the last 3 years, in case of a spouse of a British citizen) and for no more than 90 days during the year immediately prior to your citizenship application.
- You should have attained confirmation that you acquired Permanent Residence rights at least 12 months prior to submitting your citizenship application.
- You intend to make the UK your home.
- You are of a good character and have no criminal convictions.
It is not clear as to what will be the status of immigration rules once the UK comes out of the EU. If the rules are amended based on current non-EEA rules then it will be difficult for the EEA nationals who are working or staying in the UK. The present rules for Permanent Residence as also of Registration are not so stringent in the case of EEA Nationals. If you and your family wish to live in the UK permanently you can opt for ILR/Permanent residence card or British Citizenship.