The gov.uk website states that “there is no need for EU citizens living in the UK to do anything now, including applying for a permanent residence document. There will be no change to the status of EU citizens living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU”. But put another way, this means that after Brexit there will be changes, and therefore there is confusion on what EEA nationals can do to protect their position.
The confusion increased when the same website published a statement that “if you already have a permanent residence document it won’t be valid after the UK leaves the EU”. What does this mean? And is there anything that can be done now?
It is true that EEA nationals at present do not need a Permanent Residence card, but in some circumstances it may be a good idea to obtain it. Let’s see why.
Firstly, the EEA Permanent Residence card is necessary to apply for naturalisation as British citizens.
Secondly, the proposed “settled status” mentioned by the Government is not yet operational, and although it is said that it will be straightforward to apply for it, the requirements to be met are yet unknown.
Thirdly, if someone has a complex history and is not sure that their application would be accepted, it may be worth applying for permanent residence. In fact, in case of a refusal there should be no adverse consequences such as removal from the UK, and there would be sufficient time to understand the problem and strengthen one’s position.
Therefore if someone has long absences from the UK, a criminal record, gaps in their employment or other issues, it may be worth submitting these to the attention of the UKVI when a refusal would not necessarily spell the end of their life in the UK.
Finally, it is important to note that for those who have already obtained an EEA permanent residence card, will benefit from a simplified and cheaper procedure compared to those who have never applied.