After five years continuous leave under European free movement law a migrant (either an EEA national or their non-EEA family member) may – with some exceptions – qualify for permanent residence under European law.

“Permanent residence” has the same meaning as “indefinite leave to remain”, and the legal effect is the same.

Migrants who qualify can apply to the Home Office for a permanent residence document. In some cases the EEA national and their non-EEA family member(s) can make a joint application.

There is no legal requirement for this document, but it can be very useful for non-EEA family members in proving their immigration status, especially when they have left the UK and are trying to re-enter. It can also be helpful, both for EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members, if they wish to apply for British citizenship.

The law has been changed in November 2015, and it is no longer possible for EEA nationals to apply directly for British Citizenship. In most cases, any EEA national or family member of an EEA national who wishes to apply for British Citizenship, must hold a documents certifying Permanent Residence for at least 12 months prior to the application.

There has been a considerable surge in applications for Permanent Residence with the EU referendum coming up in June 2016. Visa Professionals are advising EU citizens, who qualify for permanent residence having lived in the UK for a contentious period of 5 years, to apply for permanent residence to formally legalise their status in the UK for avoidance of any future doubt should UK vote to leave the EU.

If you are from the European Economic area or Switzerland looking to gain permanent residence, or have a family member with you in the UK and want them to gain settled status/permanent residence, Visa Professionals can assist with assessing the eligibility of such an application. If the European national has been working and living in the UK legally for 5 years, you may be eligible for Permanent Residence (PR). The term “exercising treaty rights” is used to describe what the European national must satisfy.

The Requirements:
Your European family member will usually be expected to be employed when you apply for PR however; the following may be suitable if they are not;

1. Job seekers – Under regulation 6(4) of the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006, you must show that your European Family member is actively seeking employment and has a realistic chance of securing the same. If they do fit into the following criteria, you may qualify to make an application for PR;
•registered as a job seeker and were employed for at least a year before becoming unemployed;
•have been unemployed for no more than six months, or;
•can provide evidence that they are seeking employment in the UK and that they have a genuine chance of being engaged.

2. Worker– If your family member is employed, you may qualify to make an application. They must be employed on a full or part-time basis, through the direction of their employer. They must be able to support both you and themselves without recourse to public funds.
If they temporarily lose employment, they may still be regarded as a worker under regulation 6(2) if;
•temporary because of illness or of an accident;
•involuntary unemployment and have started vocational training;
•have voluntarily stopped working and started vocational training related to previous employment.

3. Self-employed person – Your European family member must be registered for income tax and national insurance contributions as self-employed with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). They will be expected to prove self-employed status by way of documentary evidence for example; self-assessment forms submitted to HMRC, invoices to confirm the work/business undertaken, business accounts, an accountant’s letter or bank statements.
Regulation 6(3) of the European Regulations 2006 confirms that if a self-employed EEA national is temporarily unable to work because of illness or an accident, they may still be classed as self-employed.

4. Self-sufficient person – Your family member may be regarded as self-sufficient if you have:
•sufficient funds to provide for your living expenses without needing to claim benefits in the UK, and
•have comprehensive sickness insurance in the UK for themselves and any family members.
•if retired they may qualify as self-sufficient if you have investments and a pension to cover living expenses in the UK.
•charity work may fall into the self-sufficient category, if they have enough funds to support both you and themselves, or the charity is meeting your living costs.

5. Student – As a student, an EEA national may be eligible for a registration certificate. They must be enrolled with a registered sponsor recognised as a training provider for a course that has started, have sufficient funds to meet living expenses, which can be evidenced by way of bank statements and have comprehensive sickness insurance.

If you need assistance with applying for your immigration visa status or have had a refusal, contact one of our London-based lawyers an initial assessment. We will help you to decide what your options are and once you understand your options, will offer you a tailor-made service for the process. Contact us on +44(0)20 3137 8699 or e-mail us at

Permanent Residence Lawyers in London