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EU Citizens and the Right to Live and Work in the UK

EU Citizens and the Right to Live and Work in the UK

(First published on The Business Magazine)

This article sets out the three key steps to British citizenship which will ensure that EU individuals will not have to leave the country in a post-Brexit UK, and provides a brief update on the latest developments in immigration-related Brexit talks.

Step 1: Residence documents

EU nationals are entitled to apply for a registration certificate to prove that they are currently qualified to work and study in the UK. The application is made online and costs £65. Applications can also include close or extended family members.

While technically not necessary, this step provides security of the right to remain, and so obtaining a registration certificate could prove useful for any future applications – in particular for permanent residence. Given the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, our view is to err on the side of caution and obtain one.

Step 2: Right to permanent residence

EU citizens who have been residing in the UK for a period of five years and are (a) working, (b) students, or (c) self-sufficient, are considered to have acquired permanent resident status. There are some exceptions to this five-year rule; namely, if one is permanently incapacitated or has reached state pension age. Rights to permanent residence expire if an individual is absent from the UK for a period of two years.

As matters stand, permanent resident status is a virtual one and does not require a physical document to be obtained. However, in view of our forthcoming exit from the EU, a document certifying permanent residence is crucial proof of the right to remain in the UK without limit or restrictions. Once acquired, it is highly unlikely that the Government would withdraw such rights post-Brexit.

It is therefore recommended that anyone who satisfies the above conditions makes this application – it costs £65 and can be made online.

Step 3: British citizenship

One must use their permanent residency document to apply for British citizenship after having lived in the UK for six years. Generally, this means an application can be made 12 months after receiving permanent residence status. The application can also include any non-EU family members.

Helpfully, an application for British citizenship can be made without a right to permanent residence if the applicant is married to or the civil partner of a British citizen.

Otherwise, and overall, we suggest that each of these steps is followed to protect your position.

Contact our immigration law experts today

For advice on UK immigration law matters concerning individuals or businesses – both European and International, please contact our experienced immigration solicitors today on 03456 381381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.