Permanent Residency In The UK After Five Years – All You Need To Know

Now that Article 50 has been triggered, many EU nationals are confused about Permanent Residency and how to apply.  With the government giving confusing, ever-changing guidance, it is often down to London’s immigration solicitors to provide EU citizens living in the UK with the best legal advice.

At OTS Solicitors, our dedicated team of EU immigration lawyers is here to ensure the best representation and outcome for you and your family at every stage of the immigration process.

If you think you may require urgent assistance with your Brexit, EU or EEA immigration matter, please contact our Brexit Hotline Team:

Brexit Hotline: 0207 936 9961

This article is designed to answer the questions you may have regarding Permanent Residency; why you need it, how to get it and how to keep it.

What is Permanent Residency?

As an EU national, you automatically acquire Permanent Residency if you have lived in the UK legally for five years continuously.

How is ‘legally’ defined?

To reside legally in another EU state, you must have been exercising your EU Treaty rights.  To do this, you need to show you have been in one of the following categories for five continuous years;

  • employed
  • self-employed
  • studying
  • economically self-sufficient, i.e., a stay at home spouse or retired person not living on benefits

Each EU country may have additional requirements for an EU national’s residence to be considered legal.  For example, in the UK, if you are exercising your Treaty rights as a student or self-sufficient person, you must have comprehensive sickness insurance.

If I acquire Permanent Residency status automatically, why do I need an EU Permanent Residence Card?

Because the UK has triggered Article 50 and will leave the EU around 2019, EU nationals who have been living in the UK naturally want to secure their rights.  So far, the British government has refused to commit to stating that EU citizens who live in the UK can stay here permanently; it is waiting for the other 27 member states to guarantee the rights of British nationals before it does.

An EU Permanent Residence Card (PRC) can provide you with an assurance that you have the right to live in the UK permanently.  This can be useful when you are applying for jobs as employers may want the security of knowing you will not have to leave the country after Brexit.

In November 2015, the British government quietly passed a law which stated that EU nationals who wanted to apply for British Citizenship after living in the UK for six years had to hold a PRC.  This is another reason why a PRC is often required.

How do I apply for a PRC?

Since the EU referendum in June 2016, there has been a marked increase in the number of PRC applications.  The best immigration lawyers have reported an increase in enquiries relating to PRC, especially those in London, where many EU nationals live.

The application process can be immensely frustrating, not least because the application form itself is 85 pages long.  In addition to filling out the form, you must submit proof in the form of supporting documents that you have lived legally in the UK for five continuous years. 

Examples of supporting documents can include:

  • evidence of invoices, tax returns, and supplies purchased if you are self-employed
  • payslips, letters from employers and Employment contracts if you are employed
  • exam results and a letter from your place of study
  • mortgage or rent documents and evidence of bank account funds if you are self-sufficient

Students and self-sufficient EU nationals will also need to provide proof that they have comprehensive sickness insurance.

What if I am an EU Citizen married to a UK citizen?

If you are an EU national and married to a UK citizen, it is advisable to apply for a PRC. If you are supported financially by your spouse, you will need comprehensive health insurance, otherwise, officials will deem you are not in the UK legally.

What if my PRC application is refused?

According to the latest statistics, around 28% of PRC applications are refused.  To save time, stress and money, it is best to have an experienced immigration lawyer assist you with your PRC application from the outset.  If your application is refused, an immigration solicitor can advise you of your next best move, which may be to appeal or re-submit your application with fresh evidence.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London.  By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  We can assist you to apply for a Permanent Residence Card and British Citizenship and answer any question you may have on your rights to remain in the UK following Brexit.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on `0203 959 9123.


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For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


We are one of the UK’s top firms for immigration solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, Spouse Visas, Student Visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, Asylum and Human Rights, British Citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, Entrepreneur Visas and Investor Visas.

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