UK Citizenship

Post-Brexit, EU nationals will be concerned about their future status in the UK. Before EU nationals can apply for British Citizenship, they first need to apply for a residency permit.

Until 12 November 2015, EU nationals were able to qualify for British Citizenship once they had achieved the required five years of residence, automatically qualifying them for permanent residence under EU law (and met all the other requirements).

The Home Office updated the requirements needed for an EU national to apply for British Citizenship by adding an extra stage that requires an applicant to possess a permanent residence permit before they can start the naturalisation process. This change was introduced by the British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1806).

An EU national will first need to apply for a permanent residence permit. Such an application is not straight-forward and can be quite complex hindered by the 85 page EEA (PR) form and £65 fee which is necessary to acquire this permanent residence permit. The process inevitably causes delays, with processing times alone of up to 6 months.

This new process has brought about confusion at the Home Office. Some applicants have apparently been finding that officials will only permit citizenship applications after a year of the permanent residence permit being issued, however, this is not required. The applicant only needs to have had permanent residence for at least 12 months but does not need to possess a permanent residence permit for the same amount of time. This means as long as you have been a permanent residence for a year, you can apply for citizenship as soon as you receive your permit.

Although this new change may satisfy employers (as a document proving an individual is free from immigration control being far more comforting than just an EU passport with no endorsements) there is an argument that this new process may not be lawful. Professor Bernard Ryan of the University of Leicester argues that the requirements of the British Nationality Act 1981 are satisfied when a person holds permanent residence and therefore it is not lawful to impose an additional requirement to hold a permanent residence document as well.

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