European Economic Area (EEA) - Brexit – Where do you Stand?

The 24th of June 2016 saw the UK vote in a referendum to leave the European Union with 52% in favour of Brexit. There are currently 3 million EU migrants living in the UK, the actual impact on the immigration status of European and Swiss nationals and their family members at this stage however, is both unclear and negligible given the UK will remain a member of the European Union until its membership is formally withdrawn. European nationals and their family members will consequently, remain unaffected in the short term but  this status quo will of course, shift when new laws are drawn up to govern European immigration in the UK. 

What will happen to EU migrants and their family members who are already in the UK?

The extent to which the new provisions will diverge from the current system is unpredictable. European nationals and their family members will continue to be treated as advocated by the current law until negotiations within the UK and the EU officialise Brexit and its terms. It is not a legal requirement to apply for a document endorsing your status in the UK provided you satisfy the conditions for recognition as such a person. Employers however, invariably require their employees to possess such a document and you cannot apply to naturalise as a British citizen in the UK unless you are in possession of either a document certifying your right to permanent residence (if you are a European national exercising treaty rights) or a Permanent residence card (if you are a European national’s family member).

It is therefore advisable, if you are either a European national or the family member of a European national resident in the UK or you are a European national and wish to sponsor a non European family member to join you in the UK, and have not already done so, to apply for a document certifying your legal status to remain in the country or sponsor your family member’s entry clearance application as a matter of urgency.  A timely application may protect you from any adverse effect brought about by changes in the law in the near future.

The eligibility criteria for the various types of document which endorse your status and that of European national family members in the UK vary and the nature of the document issued depends on whether you are a European national exercising Treaty Rights or their family member. There are therefore, two regimes which give rise to permission to legally stay in the UK – one for European nationals exercising Treaty Rights in the UK and one for their family members.

The various types of endorsement which you can obtain, depending on your individual circumstances, are set out below:

Family Members

Family members of EEA and Swiss nationals have an automatic right to join their family in the UK. The same right does not apply to extended family members. Extended family members must be able to show that they are dependent on the European family member they wish to join in the UK in order to apply to come and stay here. 

Family members who are not EEA or Swiss nationals – Family Permits

If your family member/s are not EEA or Swiss nationals, they will need to apply for an EEA family permit before they can come to the UK. You have a right to sponsor your non European/Swiss family members as long as you are exercising treaty rights.

Registration certificates

An EEA national exercising a treaty right in the UK might request that he is issued with a registration certificate; this confirms the holder's right of residence under European law. 

Residence cards

Residence cards are issued to EEA nationals' family members who are not EEA nationals themselves and confirm their right of residence in the UK under EU law. Residence cards are normally valid for 5 years.

Permanent residence

An EEA national and his/her family members acquire permanent residence when they have both lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years.  The requirements to be met and documentation to be submitted depend on whether you are an EEA national or the non EEA national family member making the application for permanent residence.

We can assist with any of the following applications:

  • EEA registration certificates
  • Residence cards 
  • Family permits 
  • Family member residence stamps
  • Permanent residence

UK Immigration Help will provide you with professional, expert advice and assistance with your application. We will clarify any concerns as to who is deemed a ‘family member’ or ‘extended family member’. We will ensure all necessary documentation is included and prepare your application for submission to the authorities.  We can also assist those individuals who have previously applied and whose applications have been refused.

Contact us today on 020 7112 4955 or complete our contact form and we will contact you.