EEA nationals worried about their future can take steps to try and mitigate against the possible effects of Brexit.

The first would be to consider applying for a registration card for the EU citizen and a residence card for their family member. ALso if they have been living in the UK for over five years they could apply for a document certifying permanent residence in the UK for them or Permanent Residence for their family member. Neither of these documents are compulsory for an EEA national living and working in the UK as they simply confirm rights already held by the EEA national. But they are a simple way for an EEA national to prove that he/she was exercising his/her free movement rights in the UK before any UK withdrawal from the Union.

Please note that the British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1806) now has the consequence that the permanent residence card must be acquired before the naturalisation application is made by the EEA national or family member. A person does not need to have held a permanent residence certificate or card for a year before applying for naturalisation. Permanent residence is acquired automatically whether or not the person has a certificate or card. So someone who automatically acquired the right of permanent residence in 2010 say, but never applied for a permanent residence certificate because they did not need to, is eligible to apply for naturalisation (assuming they meet the other criteria, such as good character), as soon as they have the permanent residence certificate. This is because they now have a permanent residence certificate and they had permanent residence since 2010, which is more than the required 12 months.

EEA Family member:  Family members are entitled to live in the UK with an EEA national.  In EEA law, only the following are family members:

-The spouse of the EEA national

-Children and grandchildren below the age of 21 of either the EEA national or the spouse

-Dependent parents or grandparents of either the EEA national or the spouse

Just because there is an entitlement in law does not mean that proving your entitlement is always straightforward or easy – the Home Office have to be satisfied about the relationship and the genuineness of any claimed dependence.

Extended family members:  Overage children and other relatives, including unmarried partners, are called ‘extended family members’.  Unmarried partners have to satisfy the Home Office that they are in a genuine relationship (which should generally have lasted for at least two years) and other relatives need to show that they are dependent upon the EEA national.

You can apply even if you are in the UK illegally, but it is generally more difficult.

Retain the Right of residence: In some circumstances you may retain a right of residence in the UK independent of your EEA family member. The most common way is after divorce, but it can also be if you are a victim of domestic violence, or on the death of your EEA family member.

Derivate Right of residence: If you are the primary carer of an EEA or British child, or if you are the child of an EEA national who has died, you may be able to apply for a residence card on this basis. A derivative right of residence does not lead to settlement in the UK.

Families of British citizens: The families of EEA nationals who are also British citizens cannot rely on EEA law, but have to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules – please contact us about this cases. If, however, a British citizen has lived and worked in Europe, and has moved ‘the centre of life’ to another country in the EEA, then it is possible for the family to apply under EEA law.

Has your EEA application been refused? If your application has been refused you have a right to appeal to an independent Immigration Judge.  There are very strict time limits to lodge the appeal. All appeals are heard in the UK, even if the refusal was overseas.  The judge will make a decision based on all the papers that are presented to support the case, and also what is said at the hearing by you and your lawyer. Please note that the Tribunal fees are going up in October 2016. Sometimes it can be easier, cheaper and quicker to lodge a new application instead of going for an appeal – we advise you on all the options, so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

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