The right of residence in the UK for European Citizens
Citizens of the European Union Member States have the right of free movement within the European Union. As a consequence, other than the requirement to produce a valid passport or national identity card, there is no requirement for EU citizens to apply to the Home Office for entry clearance or leave to remain in order to secure the right of residence. However, it is often difficult to ‘prove’ the right of residence in the absence of specific documentation issued by the Home Office.
Our immigration barristers have assisted many European citizens to successfully obtain documentation from the Home Office as confirmation of their right of residence in the UK. A brief overview of the documents and requirements are set out below.
Entry to and residence in the UK for up to three months
An EEA national is entitled to enter the UK and stay for a period of up to three months beginning on the date of entry to the UK, provided that they hold a valid national identity card or passport issued by an EEA state (Regulation 13 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006).
During this initial three month period there is no requirement for the EEA national to exercise ‘Treaty rights’ (explained below). However, if the EEA citizen becomes an ‘unreasonable burden on the social assistance system’ then the right of residence under European law is lost.
Residence in the UK beyond three months
In order to obtain an ‘extended right of residence’ in the UK beyond the initial three month period, the EEA national must be in the UK exercising ‘Treaty rights’. Treaty rights can be exercised in one of the following ways:
a) Working in the UK as an employee;
b) Working in the UK as a self-employed person;
c) A jobseeker;
d) A student; or
e) A self-sufficient person
Once an EEA national has started exercising Treaty rights in one of the above categories then they may make an application to the Home Office for the issue of a ‘Registration Certificate’ (Regulation 16 of the 2006 Regulations). Once issued, this document is valid for a period of five years from the date of issue.
It is not a legal requirement to obtain a Registration Certificate in order to have a right of residence in the UK. However, a Registration Certificate is helpful in proving an individual’s right of residence, especially if an employer requires documentation to confirm a person’s right to work.
Permanent residence in the UK
The right of permanent residence in the UK is acquired where an EEA national has lived in the UK for a period of five years during which time they exercised Treaty rights (Regulation 15 of the 2006 Regulations).
After completing five years residence in the UK an application may be made to the Home Office for a document certifying permanent residence. Again, the right of permanent residence is not dependent upon being issued with a document certifying permanent residence, but rather this confirms the EEA national’s right of residence under European law. This document will be valid for a period of ten years from the date of issue.
Twelve months after acquiring the right of permanent residence an application may be made for naturalisation as a British citizen.
If you would like further advice regarding rights of residence under European law or if you would like to apply to the Home Office for a registration certificate or document certifying permanent residence then please contact our experienced immigration barristers in Covent Garden, London, on 0203 617 9173 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.