The triggering of Article 50 does not immediately change the rights or status of EU nationals living in the UK – however, it has started the clock on when change will come about. Employers should take the opportunity now to encourage and/or support its EU national employees to make applications to evidence that they have a right of residence in the UK, which predates any cut-off dates imposed once the UK has actually exited the EU. In addition those who have non EU family members in the UK who are reliant on the status of their EEA family members should also make an application. The applications open to EEA nationals to make are as follows:
EEA Registration Certificate – for those who have lived in the UK for less than 5 years
EEA Nationals (and their non-EEA family members) who are in the UK exercising Treaty Rights (working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient, jobseeking) are able to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate to evidence that they have a current right of residence in the UK.
Prior to Brexit, there seemed little use in applying for this document, as an EEA passport or ID card essentially achieved the same thing, and allowed EEA nationals to enter and remain in the UK. Since the referendum vote, however, this is a far more valuable document, as it is confirmation from the Home Office that an EEA national has a right of residence in the UK under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations (“the Regulations”) – it’s important to obtain confirmation of before the UK exits the EU and a cut-off date is introduced to those who can continue to fall under the scope of the Regulations.
The EEA Registration Certificate application involves completing a lengthy application form and submitting evidence of exercising Treaty Rights in the UK. Applicants can also attend an appointment at their local authority to use the European Passport Return Service, which will allows them to retain their original passport or ID card once the authorities have taken and submitted a certified copy of the travel document.
EEA Permanent Residence Card – for those who have been in the UK for five years or more
EEA Nationals (and their non-EEA family members) who have been in the UK exercising Treaty Rights (working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient, jobseeking) for at least five years will automatically acquire Permanent Residence in the UK. An EEA Permanent Residence Card is a document evidencing this automatic acquisition.
Although Permanent Residence is acquired automatically and a Permanent Residence Card is not currently required to maintain it, having a Home Office issued document which evidences this right does provide some level of security, and will ensure that as and when the rules change, EEA nationals are protected. Furthermore, for those EEA nationals wishing to apply for British nationality, being issued with an EEA Permanent Residence Card is a mandatory requirement.
The EEA Permanent Residence card application involves completing a lengthy application form and submitting evidence of exercising Treaty Rights in the UK over a five year period. You will also be required to evidence that you have remained resident in the UK since acquisition of Permanent Residence. The European Passport Return Service can also be used to ensure that you do not have to leave your passport with the Home Office for the several weeks/months that it may take the Home Office to process the application.