How to protect EEA citizen status from unpredictable changes of Brexit?

EEA Citizens after Brexit


As never before in the United Kingdom, we have seen an exponential increase in discussions pertaining to immigration law and its effects. This is due to the ground-breaking news regarding the UK’s shock decision to leave the EU and the ramifications for EEA citizens.

For the UK to quit the EU, amongst other things, it had to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the European Union and the United Kingdom two years (or more depending on reaching an agreement or not) to negotiate Brexit.

In short, any EU member state which decides to leave the EU shall notify the European Council in accordance with the above-mentioned article, in order to initiate negotiations for an exit.

According to Michel Barnier, leader of the Brexit negotiations for the EU, when interviewed by BBC London, he stated that the UK’s proposals did not go far enough and he wanted the same level of protection citizens have under EU law.

Moreover, we cannot say for sure what will happen after the negotiations between EU and UK reach an agreement. However, it is recommended for EEA nationals to apply for a Permanent Residence card which will allow EEA citizens, amongst other things, to work and live in the UK without any limit despite the unpredictable forecast for EEA citizens and their rights.

Although applying for a Permanent Residence card is the recommended thing to do, you will need to meet certain criteria. As a general rule, in order to be eligible for a Permanent Residence card, EEA nationals should have been continuously living in the UK for at least 5 years, whilst also having been exercising their Treaty rights.

We strongly advise you to apply for a permanent residence document if in addition to having been living in the UK for 5 years:


  • You are a family member of someone from the European Economic Area or Switzerland;
  • You are an EEA National.


Another relevant benefit a permanent card gives you is the possibility of applying for British citizenship once you have held permanent resident status for at least 12 months, unless you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

For the purposes of the 1971 Act and the British Nationality Act 1981, a person who has a permanent right of residence under regulation 15, shall be regarded as a person who is in the United Kingdom without being subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the period for which he may remain.

Lastly, it is important to mention that applying for a residence card is not a minimum requirement for permanent residence, however it would be extra evidence which may assist your application. Also, if you have been living in the UK for a period shorter than 5 years, you will not qualify for the Permanent Residence card/status.


If you have questions about your immigration status or need advice on the matter, please feel free to contact our senior solicitor Pam Barar or our immigration team.

We take the stress of visa applications away from you and assist you from start to finish. That is why many of our both private and corporate clients choose us.


Update on EEA Nationals’ right to reside in the UK

EEA Nationals (Brexit)

The Home Office published an update on the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Both sides agreed that the rights of cross border workers should be protected.

On economic rights, they have confirmed the right of EU citizens to set up and manage a business in the UK, and the same applies to British citizens in their Member State of residence.

These points of agreement are good news but the discussions also highlighted where more work is needed. The next round of negotiations in September will build on progress to date with a view to reaching a future agreement on citizens’ rights.

You can visit the Home Office website at Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know for further details about the government’s proposal to protect the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU published on 26 June 2017. It contained these commitments:

  • EU citizens with settled status will continue be treated as if they were UK nationals for education, healthcare, benefits, pensions and social housing after the UK leaves the EU.
  • EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will not be asked to leave at the point the UK leave the EU. EU citizens will have at least two years to regularise their status.
  • The process to apply for settled status will be streamlined and user friendly, including for those who already hold a permanent residence document under current free movement rules. They expect the system to be up and running in 2018.

For now, the rights of EU citizens have not changed. As the negotiations in Brussels progress, our advice to EU is to apply for documentation confirming your status now.

If you have questions about your immigration status or need advice on the matter, please feel free to contact our senior solicitor Pam Barar or our immigration team.


EEA citizens received detention letters in error

The Home Office error

The Home Office has sent about 100 letters “in error” to EU citizens living in the UK, telling them they were liable for “detention”.

The mistake came to light after a Finnish academic, who has the right to live in the UK, received a letter claiming he was liable to be detained.

In addition, another EU citizen, who is married to a British citizen, was told she had a month to leave the UK.

A Home Office spokesperson said “the rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged”.

Everyone who received a letter would be contacted to “clarify that they can disregard it”, they said.

“A limited number of letters were issued in error and we have been urgently looking into why this happened,” the spokesperson added.



Government’s proposals on the rights of EU citizens after Brexit

EU citizens’ rights after Brexit

The Government has published its proposals on the rights and status of EU citizens in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, after the UK exits the EU.

A Government’s press release confirms “the creation of a new ‘settled status’ for EU citizens who arrive before a cut-off date (also called the specified date), which is yet to be specified and will be agreed as part of the negotiations with the EU.”

“Applicants who already have 5 years’ continuous residence [qualified persons] in the UK will be immediately eligible for settled status. Those who arrived before the cut-off date but do not yet meet the 5-year threshold by exit day will be allowed to stay until they reach that milestone and can also secure settled status.”

The policy paper proposes an online system to process applications that will give applicants the same “indefinite leave to remain” status as many non-European nationals who have also lived in the UK for 5 years.

Key points of the UK’s proposals:

  • Those granted settled status will be able to live, work, study and claim benefits just as they can now.
  • The cut-off date for eligibility is undecided but will be between 29 March 2017 and 29 March 2019.
  • Family members of EU citizens living abroad will be able to return and apply for settled status.
  • EU nationals in the UK for less than 5 years at the cut-off date will be able to continue living and working in the UK. Once resident for 5 years, they can apply for settled status.
  • Those arriving after the cut-off date will be able to stay temporarily. But there should be “no expectation” they will be granted permanent residence.
  • A period of “blanket residence permission” may apply to give officials time to process applications to stay in the UK.
  • The Home Office will no longer require evidence that EU citizens who weren’t working held “comprehensive sickness insurance”.

However, there are several main concerns about the Government’s proposals as the proposals do not cover all situations (e.g. Zambrano rights, Surinder Singh route), there is no details of application process/evidential requirements, there is concerns about family rights etc.

If you have questions about your immigration status or need advice on the matter, please feel free to contact our senior solicitor Pam Barar or our immigration team.

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