EEA Permanent Residence in the UK

You can apply for Permanent Residence if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and have been exercising your Treaty Rights for five continuous years whilst residing in the UK.

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What is Permanent Residence in the UK?

Permanent residence is a status granted to EEA citizens under European Law which allows them to live and work in the United Kingdom. You’ll need to show that you have been exercising your Treaty Rights for five continuous years whilst residing in the UK. You can demonstrate this if you have been working or studying during your stay.

The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 is responsible for governing applications made under this category. 

How do I know if I qualify for Permanent Residence in the UK?

Under the EEA Regulations, the following automatically acquire a permanent right of residence in the UK:

  • EEA citizens who have lived here for five years in accordance with the EEA Regs (Reg 15(1)(a))
  • Third country family members of qualified persons who have lived here for five years in accordance with the EEA Regs (Reg 15(1)(b))
  • A worker or self-employed person who has ceased activity in the circumstances defined under Reg 5 (retirement, illness and incapacity in various circumstances), and their family members (Reg 15(1)(c), (d))
  • Family members of a worker or self-employed person
  • who has died,
  • where the family member resided with him immediately before his death, and
  • where he had lived in the UK for at least the two years immediately before his death or the death was the result of an accident at work or occupational disease (Reg 15(1)(e)
  • Those who have resided in the UK under the EEA Regs for five years ending with a period during which they retain a right of residence (former family members whose qualified person has died or divorced them)

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How can I apply for permanent residence?

There are two ways to apply for Permanent Residence, either by using the 85-page form or by completing the online application.

If any of the following factors apply to you, you will not be able to use the online form:

  • You are a family member of a qualifying EEA national (your sponsor) and you are not applying at the same time as them
  • You are a student or self-sufficient person who is financially responsible for any other family member
  • You are student or self-sufficient who is financially reliant on family members for financial support
  • You are applying on the basis of retained rights
  • You are applying under the Surinder Singh category

What are the benefits of using the online system to apply for Permanent Residence?

Unlike the paper version of the EEA PR application, the online form will only ask you questions which are relevant to you. This structure means that you have to answer all of the questions before you proceed, so you should make sure you have all of the required information and documents before you start the application for Permanent Residence.

The other benefit of this method is that your local authority can check your passport and give it back to you using the European Passport Return Service. In order to use this service, you will need to attend an appointment within five days of submitting the application, so you should book the appointment first and then submit your application in line with this date.

What do I need before making my EEA application?

Before starting your application for Permanent Residence, you should gather documents that prove you have been living in the UK. You will need to be able to provide details of what you have been doing in the UK.

This might include details of paid work, information about your job search, or bank statements to show your income. You should gather other documents that will help to prove you have been ordinarily resident in the UK. This might include council tax documents, utility bills, bank statements or NHS correspondence.

You will also need proof of identification, such as a passport or national identity card. You might also need birth certificates, adoption certificates, marriage certificates or any other documents which will prove your relationship to others.

Non-EEA Family Members

The non-EEA family member’s application will depend on themselves establishing five years of continuous residence under the EEA Regs, which will, in turn, depend on the evidence they can obtain of the EEA national’s continuous right to reside in the UK during the same five year period.

A person may qualify for permanent residence if they establish five years residence in the UK as a qualified person or their family member

  • this may include periods where a person is actually working, and
  • periods where they retain worker status because of involuntary registered unemployment, vocational training and inactivity due to illness/accident (see above where we address Workers)
  • Evidence of a continuous five year period of residence in the UK can include (but is not limited to) tenancy agreements, utility bills, bank statements, school or nursery letters or immunisation records in support of applications for children


Important things to consider


As is the case for initial and extended rights of residence, Reg 15(4) again sets out the circumstances in which a person is not entitled to this right: namely, where the following decisions have been made in relation to a person and which still has an effect: removal on grounds of public policy/security/health; refusal to issue residence documentation, cancellation of a right to reside, misuse of a right to reside, revocation of admission; and, from 24 July 2018, an exclusion order under Reg 23(5) or deportation under Reg 32(3).

Continuity of residence is not broken by periods of absence from the UK for six months or less per year

Permanent residence will lapse with two years continuous absence from the UK (Reg 15(2))


The primary benefit of certification of a permanent right of residence under the 2016 Regulations is that it is evidence of having had a right to reside for the 5 years prior to the issue of a document, which may be relevant to proving past benefit or other entitlements, as well as evidence of past lawful residence for a future naturalisation application.

An EEA citizen can apply for a Document Certifying Permanent Residence and the non-EEA family member, a Permanent Residence Card on Form EEA(PR), both £65.00, issued under Reg 18. This is not essential but may prove to be convenient.

Evidencing permanent residence is not always easy. An EEA national may have had periods of economic inactivity in the relevant five year period, due to reasons that did not necessarily end their status as a qualified person, through illness, childbirth or unemployment, depending on the circumstances.


How will Brexit impact my application?

After Brexit, a set of new regulations will be put into place which may require all new EEA nationals to obtain an EEA Permanent Residence under a new set of guidelines.

If you require more specific information regarding your personal situation and circumstance you are advised to contact WF, who have a team of highly-trained lawyers on hand to offer you tailored advice.

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