Immigration – EEA Permanent Residence Card

What is an EEA Permanent Residence Card?

An EEA Permanent Residence Card provides permanent residence status for the UK for EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members.

However, you do not need an EEA Permanent Residence Card to confirm your permanent residence status in the UK unless:

  • You want to apply for British citizenship and wish to rely on a date of acquisition of permanent residence more than 12 months ago (so that you can immediately apply for British citizenship)
  • You’re an ‘extended’ family member such as the unmarried partner or a dependent relative of someone from the EEA or Switzerland and are yourself not an EEA or Swiss national (and wish to apply for status under the new EU Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK after Brexit which requires you first to have a relevant document issued by the UK under the EEA Regulations)

What criteria must you meet to be eligible for an EEA Permanent Residence Card?

You’re eligible for an EEA Permanent Residence Card if either of the following apply:

  • You’re an EEA or Swiss citizen and have lived in the UK for a continuous 5 year period as a ‘qualified person’ exercising a treaty right in the UK through employment, self-employment, studying, jobseeking or self-sufficiency
  • You’re a family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen and have lived with your EEA or Swiss family member in the UK for a continuous 5 year period during which time your EEA or Swiss citizen family member has been a ‘qualified person’ exercising a treaty right in the UK through employment, self-employment, studying, jobseeking or self-sufficiency or has had a permanent right of residence

If applying for an EEA Permanent Residence Card as an ‘extended’ family member, you must have held a valid EEA family permit and a residence card throughout the 5 year period.

You can also qualify for an EEA Permanent Residence Card if you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years as the family member of a British citizen, if you entered the UK under the ‘Surinder Singh’ route (Case C-370/90 Surinder Singh).

Is there a specific period of time which you must have been in the UK to qualify for an EEA Permanent Residence Card?

You must have spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK.

Are there absence requirements for applying for an EEA Permanent Residence Card?

The 5 year continuity of residence period is not broken by:

  • Periods of absence from the UK which do not exceed six months (180 days) in total in any year; or
  • One absence from the UK not exceeding twelve months for an important reason such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training or an overseas posting.

What period of residence can I rely on and provide evidence for?

If you have lived in the UK for more than 5 years:

You do not need to provide evidence for all your time spent in the UK. You can rely on and provide evidence for any continuous 5 year period of qualifying residence. For example, if as an EEA national you were exercising treaty rights in the UK continuously from 2005 to 2015, and you want to show that you acquired permanent residence in 2010, you should provide evidence for that period from 2005 to 2010. If you’re not sure exactly when you acquired permanent residence, you may wish to send evidence of a sixth year as well.

If your qualifying period of residence is more than 2 years ago:

If you are relying on a 5 year qualifying period of residence that ended more than 2 years ago you must also provide evidence that you have not spent more than 2 consecutive years outside the UK since the qualifying period ended. This is because permanent residence is lost if you have been outside the UK for 2 continuous years.

If you have spent time outside the UK for a continuous period of 2 years or more:

Any permanent residence status that you would have acquired before the 2 year period spent outside the UK will have been lost. You must provide evidence of a more recent continuous 5 year period.

If I am applying for British citizenship, what is the advantage of applying for an EEA Permanent Residence Card and not under the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you are relying on a 5 year qualifying period of residence that ended more than 12 months ago, your date of acquisition of permanent residence can be dated retrospectively with an EEA Permanent Residence Card.

This means that you can apply for British citizenship immediately once permanent residence is granted without having to wait a further 12 months to be free from immigration restrictions before applying for British citizenship as with the EU Settlement Scheme.

How long is an EEA Permanent Residence Card valid for?

An EEA Permanent Residence Card is by its very definition, valid permanently. However, the right of permanent residence is lost through absence from the UK for a period exceeding two years.

If however, you subsequently acquire British citizenship after obtaining permanent residence, then you cannot lose your British citizenship through any length of absence from the UK.

How can Setfords help you?

We are experienced in preparing EEA Permanent Residence Card applications and are able to provide expert guidance and assistance to you throughout the full process.

Discuss your EEA Permanent Residence Card application with our Immigration Experts now

Nicola Anne Wilkins

Senior Consultant Solicitor – UK Immigration Law

Direct dial: 020 8103 2006
Head office: 0330 058 4012 then dial ext 2752
Email: nwilkins@setfords.co.uk
Form: Complete form now
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Quotes from previous clients

“Nicola assisted me with my EEA Family Permit application to join my partner in the UK. I had quite a complicated case (due to being an unmarried partner), but Nicola was unbelievably helpful and reassuring. She is particularly knowledgeable on the EEA Regulations and was able to recommend a suitable solution for every minor detail. Nicola is very organised and detail oriented. She was quick to respond to all emails and queries, regardless of how ‘silly’ I considered my concerns to be. I truly feel that Nicola cares about all of her clients and understands the difficult situations that some families are placed in, then does her best to help. Above all, Nicola is patient, friendly and very lovely and I cannot recommend her enough”.

“Nicola helped my partner secure her EEA Family Permit to come to the UK. As I had just started a new job here, we were placed in a difficult situation but Nicola definitely gave her all to ensure we had the best possible solution. She provided all the support she could and clarified all the possible outcomes. I find her extremely competent and an expert in her field. The main thing that sets her apart is that she genuinely cares about her clients and their situation, while being extremely professional. Thank you for everything Nicola!”.