EEA nationals – Permanent Residence

To qualify for a document confirming permanent residence, you would normally need to show that you have exercised Treaty rights for 5 years.

You will have exercised Treaty rights by being a ‘qualified person’ that is:

  • A Worker
  • A Self-employed person
  • A Self-sufficient person
  • A Student
  • A Job Seekers and their family members
  • The family member of an EEA national qualified person or permanent resident.


These 5 years is referred here as the qualify period.

This is subject to a number of exceptions which are listed below.


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 period of qualifying residence.

For example, if you were exercising Treaty rights in the UK continuously from 2006 to 2011, and you want to show that you acquired permanent residence in 2011, you should provide evidence for that period.

If the end of your qualifying period of residence is more than 2 years ago you will also have to 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 or if you have been deported.

If you have spent time outside the UK for a continuous period of 2 years or more you will have lost your permanent residence status.


In some cases, EEA nationals can acquire permanent residence in less than 5 years.

This will be the case when, for example, if you are the family member of an EEA national who has died), or you or your family member has stopped working due to retirement or permanent incapacity.


The Free Movement Directive was implemented in the UK through the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which came into force on 30 April 2006. This is therefore the earliest the permanent right of residence can be established and evidenced.

This does not mean that a permanent residence status could not have been achieved relying on earlier period of qualifying residence.

For example, if you arrived in the UK in March 2000 and exercised treaty rights for 5 years, you should be able to rely on a qualifying period between March 2000 and March 2005.  However, in this case, you will only have acquired permanent residence on 30 April 2006.

It is important to note that an absence for a period in excess of 2 consecutive years since the end of your period of qualifying residence would result in you having lost your permanent residence status.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to apply for permanent residence before I can apply for naturalisation?

It is not permanent residence that you are applying for but rather a document confirming that you have acquired permanent residence by the automatic operation of Law. You will need this document to apply for naturalisation.

When can I apply for British citizenship?

Depending on when you are deemed to have gained permanent residence, and whether you are married to a settled person, you might have to wait a year from receiving your permanent residence document to apply for citizenship. If you wish to apply for British citizenship immediately after obtaining your permanent residence documentation, you should make sure that you provide evidence of exercising treaty rights for a period of 5 years which ended at least 12 months from the date you wish to proceed with your naturalisation application when you file for PR.


It is important to note that if you are not married to a settled person, as part of your naturalisation application, you will be required to show continuous residence for the 6 years immediately preceding the filing of the application. Whilst third countries nationals are often able to satisfy this requirement by simply producing their passports, EU nationals cannot as their passports are not stamped when entering or leaving the UK.  As a result of this, producing the right documentation to show continued residence can be tricky at times, especially for those who are no longer employed. Whilst the UKVI’s guidance advise against bank statements, ironically, they are often the only reliable documents which can show physical presence in the UK during the qualifying period.

Until the last few years, the UKVI’s data on the comings and goings of EU nationals was very poor if not completely non-existent. Recent SAR requests have shown us that historically air travel was better monitored than travel via the Eurotunnel/Eurostar or via Ferries. It follows those who travel extensively will be unable to rely on the data held by the Home Office to compile their schedule of absences.

What, and how much evidence do I need to submit to support my application for a permanent residence document?  

This will very much depend on your circumstances, whether you are employed or self-employed, or self-sufficient, etc.

The UKVI will be looking for original P60s, P45s, HMRC’s documents, NHS documents, employment’s letters..etc.

If your circumstances are particularly complex, you should include a covering letter with your application, clearly explaining your circumstances.

If you apply under the new system which is due to go live before the end of the year, the documentation should be minimal.

I was a student/self-sufficient for most of my qualifying period and did not have comprehensive insurance, will this affect my claim for permanent residence?

Under the new system which is due to be launched eminently, the Home Office no longer require students and self-sufficient people living in the UK to prove that they have held comprehensive sickness insurance when they apply for a document showing their settled status in the UK. In other words, students and self-sufficient EEA nationals can now be granted settled status even if they have never held comprehensive insurance.

I am an EU8 national (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia) and I failed to register under the Worker Registration Scheme, when did I get permanent residence?

Until 30 April 2011, EU8 nationals were subject to restrictions which meant that in order to be employed lawfully in the UK, they had to register their employment under the Worker Registration Scheme. Once they had completed a continuous 12 months employment under the scheme, they could work freely and no longer needed authorisation from the Home Office in order to take up a post.

Unfortunately, this requirement was not widely advertised and many EU8 nationals who were unware of it, failed to register. If you are on one of them and were not exempt from registering, you will not be able to rely on employment that took place pre 30 April 2011. This will be deemed as unauthorised employment and as a result will not count towards the 5 year-qualifying period.

I am an EU8 national (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia) and I failed to register under the Worker Registration Scheme, will this impact my application for naturalisation?

When we asked the Home Office whether the absence of registering under the WRS would be considered as an element to take into account when considering an applicant’s good character; and if so, whether unlawful stay would lead to a naturalisation application being refused, their answer was as follows:


“It is unlikely, presumably on the basis that our good character guidance is quite extensive and given that is it not mentioned there is an indication that it is not a significant factor”

They inferred that as long as permanent residence has been recognised (ie a PR document has been issued), the absence of registering under the WRS would not be a factor considered under the good character requirement for obtaining British citizenship.

I am an EU national living in the UK. My EU child was born in the UK, is he British?

It depends on the date of birth of your child and your circumstances – such as whether you already hold permanent residence at the time of birth or whether the other parent of the child is British/settled.

If you would like to discuss your eligibility for a document confirming your permanent residence in the UK or if you require expert legal assistance in connection with naturalisation application as a British citizen, please contact us.