On 26th June 2017, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, unveiled the UK government’s proposal for securing the rights of the three million EU nationals who live in Britain following Brexit.
“Settled status” will grant EU citizens “the right to live in Britain, to undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and to apply for British Citizenship.” All EU nationals who wish to be granted “settled status” will need to apply for a special ID card.
Many of the top London immigration law firms, EU national support groups and EU citizens themselves are not convinced “settled status” is a fair solution.
Alexa Stephenson, a 45-year-old French national who has lived in Cambridge since 1998 recently told the New Statesman she would not apply for the new status. “It’s discrimination. Why should we carry a special ID card when the UK voted against a national one?” Married to a British Citizen and mother to children with dual citizenship, she fears she may become a “second class citizen”.
“What if I have to go and care for my elderly mother and need to reapply? What will happen to children, do they have to get a settled status? Would it entail our rights to get credit, own a house? Why [are they] putting citizens who are contributing to the economy through hoops? It almost feels like a deterrent to stay.”
“Settled status” and the rights it confers are not guaranteed
immigration solicitors have been at pains to point out that the UK government’s proposals for EU nationals living in the UK are at best just that – proposals.
Top immigration lawyers state nothing is settled and the rights “settled status” may or may not confer have no foundation in British law as yet.
This is contrary to the surety that comes with securing an EU permanent residence Card. Permanent Residency status is a right recognised by EU and UK law. In addition, EU nationals must have a Permanent Residency Card before they can apply for British Citizenship. And British Citizenship is the only way to 100% guarantee your right to remain in the UK, regardless of any future changes made to immigration law.
EU nationals who obtain a permanent residence Card and subsequent British Citizenship may have the advantage of retaining their EU citizenship, something that those born in Britain will lose once we leave the EU. The only way for British nationals to retain EU citizenship is, if they are eligible, to acquire citizenship from another EU country. Many British nationals are exploring this, with many looking to obtain Irish citizenship through their grandparents.
The definition of permanent residence
permanent residence is the right of an EU national to live in another Member State, without having to exercise their Treaty rights. The best immigration solicitors will tell you that, despite popular belief, EU citizens cannot move to other Member States and simply claim public funds. To be allowed to remain legally in their adopted Member State, an EU national must be exercising their Treaty rights as a:
- self-employed person
- self-sufficient person
In the UK, students and self-sufficient people must also have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.
In limited circumstances, jobseekers can be deemed to be exercising their Treaty rights.
How to obtain a permanent residence Card
To get a permanent residence Card, you must have been exercising your Treaty rights in the UK for at least five years.
This requires evidence. For example, if you are employed, you may be required to provide a copy of your employment contract and five years’ worth of payslips. If you are self-employed, immigration officials may want to see your invoice book and tax returns.
If you are required to have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (because you are self-sufficient or a student), evidence that you have had the insurance for five years, or the number of years you have been exercising your Treaty rights in that particular capacity, will be required.
The application form for a permanent residence Card is 85-pages long and can be very confusing. Many applications are turned down by UK Visas and immigration. EU nationals applying for a permanent residence Card often have trouble collating the necessary documents as they have not kept items such as payslips or university course acceptance forms.
At OTS Solicitors, our highly experienced immigration solicitors can take care of the entire application process for you, providing you with the best chance of having your submission approved.
Not only will our top immigration lawyers meet with you in person, they will carefully examine your application, identifying its strengths and weaknesses, and will write a letter explaining why certain documents cannot be submitted (if applicable).
Applying for British Citizenship
There are also other criteria. For example, you will need to pass an English language test and the Life in the UK test. You will also be required to show that you have not resided outside the UK for more than 450 days over the past five years or more than 90 days over the last 12 months.
Finally, you will need to be of ‘good character’ and not have broken any UK Immigration Rules in the past.
Even though the government has published a proposal regarding granting EU nationals “settled status”, nothing is set in stone. Given the confusion over many of the key issues of Brexit, such as when freedom of movement will end and the infighting such ambiguities are causing amongst Cabinet Ministers, it would be prudent to expect the concept of “settled status” to change over the coming months.
EU nationals who have a permanent residence Card may be able to apply for British Citizenship. Our friendly immigration solicitors will provide you with the most up to date advice, ensuring your best interests are always looked after.
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 will provide clear, practical advice on what EU nationals and their families should do to solidify their right to remain in the UK post-Brexit.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 020 7936 9960 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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Posted on: Tuesday, 08 August, 2017