EU & EEA Immigration Lawyers
As a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, you have a range of options open to you if you would like to carry on living in the UK or if you are planning to move to the UK to live, work, study or join family.
Following the exit of the UK from the EU, EU and EEA citizens need to apply for permission to be in the UK. Free movement between the EU and the UK ended on 31 December 2020, and the UK now has a points-based immigration system for those wishing to live, work or study there.
The exact route will depend on whether you are already in the UK, and if so, when you arrived and how long you wish to stay. For those who were not resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and who do not have rights under the UK’s withdrawal agreement, a visa will be required for a stay in the UK longer than six months.
If you would like to check on your EU or EEA immigration status and whether you will need a visa, please give us a ring. We deal with a full range of UK visas.
Complete support from our UK EU & EEA immigration lawyers
We represent clients from across the EU and the EEA in ensuring they have the right authority to live, work and study in the UK for as long as they wish to remain. We provide a full EU and EEA immigration service, including the following:
- Advising you as to the best route to follow for settled status or a visa allowing you to stay or come to the UK as an EU or EEA citizen
- Advice in respect of family members or dependants who wish to live with you in the UK
- Advice on joining family in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen
- Applying for settled status in the UK
- Completing a visa application on your behalf to enable you to live, work or study in the UK
- Applications for indefinite leave to remain
- Applications for British citizenship
For more information regarding our UK visa services, see UK immigration lawyers.
If you are a business owner and you would like to see more about our services, see UK business immigration lawyers.
Why choose IBB Law for help with EU & EEA immigration?
At IBB Law, our EEA and EU immigration lawyers have exceptional expertise in the complex area of EU immigration law. We can offer you:
- Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of UK immigration laws and policies in respect of the EU and EEA and the procedures to be followed in making applications to UK Visas and Immigration
- Support and guidance from our team, who will ensure that they are available to answer your questions and assist you throughout your case
- A proactive and competitive service with excellent attention to detail
- Representation by a lawyer from a team of genuine experts who are ranked by leading solicitors’ directory, The Legal 500, for their expertise in immigration law
Looking for immediate help with UK EEA & EU immigration law?
How to apply for a UK EU or EEA immigration visa
Below is guidance in respect of the following options for EU and EEA citizens wishing to stay in the UK as well as for those overseas who would like to come to the UK.
For EU and EEA citizens already living in the UK:
- The EU Settlement Scheme
- Settled status
- Pre-settled status
- Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Applying for British citizenship
For EU and EEA citizens planning to come to the UK:
- Working in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen
- Studying in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen
- Living in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen
- Joining family in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen
For EU and EEA citizens already living in the UK
The EU Settlement Scheme was available for individuals from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who wanted to continue living in the UK following Brexit. The deadline for applications under the scheme was 30 June 2021, but some exceptions exist, allowing late applications to be made.
If you or a family member are from the EU or EEA and were living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you can apply to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme if you also either:
- Meet one of the government’s criteria for a later deadline; or
- You can show that you have reasonable grounds for not applying by the deadline of 30 June 2021.
The criteria that will allow you a later deadline include where you will be joining a family member who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020 provided you were their family member by that date, and the family relationship still exists at the time you make your application.
Issues such as medical problems or being a victim of domestic abuse can also be valid grounds for a later deadline.
If you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and did not realise that you could apply for settled status (which will allow you to spend up to five years outside of the UK without losing your status, as opposed to just two years with indefinite leave to remain), this counts as reasonable grounds for not applying by the deadline.
The EU Settlement Scheme offers settled and pre-settled status, giving you permission to live, work and study in the UK, as well as the right to come and go from the country when you want.
Settled status can be applied for once you have lived in the UK continuously for five years. In practice, this means that for five years, you should have spent at least six months each year in the UK. In some circumstances, you can have spent more than six months out of the country, including:
- Where you had an important reason for doing so, such as childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training, you were posted overseas to work or because of Covid-19
- You were required to undertake compulsory military service
- You were overseas because you or a family member are a Crown servant
- You were overseas because you or a family member were in the armed forces
- You were working in the UK marine area
If you apply for settled status before you have five continuous years living in the UK, you can be granted pre-settled status.
If you have settled or pre-settled status, you can:
- Work in the UK
- Access the NHS
- Be educated or study in the UK
- Claim benefits and pensions, if you are entitled to receive them
- Travel out of the UK and back again
Pre-settled status allows you to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date you receive the status, and after that time, you can apply for settled status.
Settled status is similar to indefinite leave to remain, which is granted to non-EU citizens. If you have settled status, however, you can spend up to five years in a row outside of the UK without losing your settled status. If you have indefinite leave to remain, you can only spend two years outside of the UK, or you may lose your leave to remain. If you are a Swiss citizen, you can spend up to four consecutive years outside of the UK without losing your settled status.
Where you spend longer outside of the UK than you are allowed, you will generally lose your settled status. If this happens, you would need to apply for a visa if you then wish to live, work or study in the UK. You would only be able to reapply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you were eligible because you would be joining as a family member of someone from the EU or the EEA.
If you have settled status in the UK and you meet the requirements for UK naturalisation, then you may be able to apply for British citizenship.
You will need to prove that you have lawfully been resident in the UK for five years under the terms of the EEA Regulations and the British Nationality Act 1981. This may require a longer period of stay to establish the necessary qualifying time as you will need to have lived in the UK for five years and have held settled status or indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme for a further twelve months.
You must also:
- Be 18 or older
- Provide evidence that you were in the UK exactly five years before the day the Home Office received your application
- Have sufficient knowledge of English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic)
- Pass the life in the UK test
- Intend to continue living in the UK
- Be of good character
Where you held permanent residence status before you obtained settled status, you may be able to count the time that you had permanent residence towards the twelve-month qualifying period.
To be eligible to apply, you should not have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK during the five years before your application and no more than 90 days outside of the UK in the previous year.
For EU and EEA citizens planning to come to the UK
If you are not living in the UK and will not be joining a relative who is a British citizen and who lives in the UK, you will need a visa if you plan to be in the UK for more than six months.
You will need to prove that you are eligible under your chosen visa and satisfy various government checks.
There are a range of visas available, and if you are not sure which is the correct choice, we can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options. If you intend to work in the UK, then a skilled worker visa might be the right immigration route. We can explain what you will need to prove to secure this visa and put together an application on your behalf, giving you the best possible chance of success.
As a student from the EU or EEA, you can study in the UK for up to six months without needing a visa. If you need to stay longer than six months, then you will need to apply online for a student visa. This generally has a minimum English requirement, although you can start out with an English course and then switch to a degree course once you are able to satisfy this.
If you are living in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen under the terms of a visa, you may be able to extend this after the initial term or, after five years, you may be able to apply to settle in the UK.
If you are an EU or EEA citizen with family living in the UK and they started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you can apply to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.
You have the option to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit before you come to the UK, which will give you the right to stay in the UK for six months, and then apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once you are in the UK or you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme straight away from outside of the UK if you are eligible and you are from the EU or the EEA, and you hold a valid passport or national identity card with a biometric chip.
Get immediate expert advice from EU and EEA immigration lawyers
If you need expert advice and support from an expert EEA and EU immigration lawyer, our highly experienced team will be happy to assist.
Meet the team