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Financial Times article on the permanent residency application process

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Rebuttals and clarifications


Today (2 March), the Financial Times published an article (‘EU citizens face 85-page ‘nightmare’ Brexit Britain form) which detailed the experiences of EU nationals in the UK applying for permanent residency documentation. We have clarified a number of the issues raised in the article below. 

Claim 1) “We have been inundated with people who previously wouldn’t have even thought of permanent residency but now feel obliged to get it.” But doing so means confronting an onerous application and overstretched bureaucracy that is heaping frustration — and hefty legal fees.

There is no requirement to apply for documentation certifying permanent residence to confirm this status.

The rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged while we are a member of the Europe Union.

Applicants will not face any legal fees imposed by the Home Office as part of completing this application. The application fee is £65 and while the volume of applications has increased in recent months, they are still being processed within the published service standards of six months.

Claim 2) “There are 85 pages to fill in and they ask the same thing over and over again but in a way you never know what the right answer is.”

No customer has to complete the entire 85-page form, and the online application automatically directs customers to the sections they are required to fill out. The online service was launched in October 2016 to enable single EEA applicants to apply for permanent residence online. This service has been expanded as of 6 February 2017 to allow applicants to also apply on behalf of family members at the same time.

Claim 3) The application, whose guidance notes alone run to 18 pages, was only instituted in late 2015. Before that, an EU national was simply deemed a permanent resident after five years living continuously in the UK.

The rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged while we are a member of the Europe Union. It remains the case that EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least five years automatically have a permanent right to reside under EU law. While there is no requirement to apply for documentation certifying permanent residence to confirm this status, we are making it easier for customers to do so through our online application service.

Claim 4) “If you come over here and work in the informal economy it can be very hard to establish these things (residency and working history),” said Markus Malik

Anyone who is working and paying tax in this country should be easily able to prove their work history through documentation such as payslips and bank statements. Those working in the ‘informal economy’ or black economy are working here illegally.

Claim 5) It can also be difficult to prove residency for a stay-at-home spouse, even one that has lived in the UK for many years. Applicants must list their health insurance.

Home Office guidance sets out what requirements need to be met in order to prove a right to reside as someone who isn’t working.  These include, as set out in EU law, demonstrating that they have enough resources so as not to be a burden on the state, and that they hold comprehensive sickness insurance.

There is no requirement to apply for documentation certifying permanent residence to confirm this status.

Claim 6) Lawyers said the Home Office had become more rigid in the way it evaluated such applications.

Refusal rates for permanent residency application have not changed in the last year. There is clear guidance available setting out what documentation and evidence is required. The onus is on an individual to submit the necessary evidence in support of their application.

Claim 7) Waiting times are running at four months or more, during which time many applicants sacrifice their passports.

Applications are being processed within the UKVI Service Standard of six months from the date of application. This has not been breached since it was introduced on 1st January 2014.

Customers who apply for documentation certifying permanent residence online can also have their passport verified and copied at a range of participating Local Authorities and Premium Service Centres which are listed on our website, enabling people to retain their passport whilst their application is considered.

There is no requirement to apply for documentation certifying permanent residence to confirm this status.

Claim 8) ‘Only midway through did he (the applicant) realise an EU citizen could be disqualified if they failed to purchase “comprehensive sickness insurance” while studying or unemployed during their time in the UK.’

This is the requirement set out in the Free Movement Directive and applies to all Member States. It is not just in UK law.

EEA Nationals exercising Treaty rights as a self-sufficient person have always been required to demonstrate that they have comprehensivesickness insurance. Students have been required to have cover since 2011.

The easiest way to demonstrate Comprehensive Sickness Insurance is through a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for temporary migrants which is issued free of charge by an EEA member state other than the UK, or their own Comprehensive Sickness Insurance policy.

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  1. Comment by Richard herd posted on

    The main issue here is what constitutes comprehensive sickness insurance. Can you please explain why eligibility for NHS treatment does not constitute comprehensive sickness insurance.

    Secondary issue
    The reason to obtain a card is that it is now needed for naturalisation. This is new.

    Does a PR card have indefinite validity?

  2. Comment by Dr R M Brady posted on

    This rebuttal misses the point entirely and indicates what, in business, would be recognised as a cultural problem in the organisation. Simple changes to the procedure, easy for the home office to do, would reduce the rate at which applications are rejected for technical reasons and would improve customer satisfaction. When a customer complains (as I did - the application for my wife of 30 years has failed twice now on technicalities) the Home Office treats it, not as an opportunity to improve the process, but by pointing out the failings of the customer. I indeed made errors. This rebuttal continues that approach of failing to consider the customer.

  3. Comment by Rahul posted on

    Whilst there is a lot of discussion about EEA applicants, what about the non-EEA spouses of EEA citizens who have applied for PR? Very little is available anywhere on the internet about this.
    Also, the Home office gives completely contradicting statements on the application being affected if the passport is called back ( in case of receiving a new job, Human resources need to see a valid passport to issue a job contract).

  4. Comment by Kershy posted on

    This is makeup beautification of the process. The home office now retrospectively requires students to have had comprehensive sickness insurance BEFORE 2011, and before it was introduced as a requirement - even though students did not know, were not asked and were not informed that they needed to have this!
    It is outrageous. This way the home office is able to reject a huge number of applications for permanent residence.
    I hope that the European Court of Justice will finally make an intervention.

  5. Comment by JC posted on

    Could you add a clarification to claim 8 outlining why the Home Office refuses to accept NHS access as CSI (which in breach of EU law - as you keep pointing out, we are currently still a member of the EU).

    Also, the 'no need to apply whilst we're still a member of the EU' argument is moot and totally misses the point - this whole situation is specifically about what happens after we leave the EU and EU citizens will, presumably, be asked to provide rights of residence. If someone has automatically acquired permanent residency status will you just take their word for it? Don't think so...

    The fact that you feel the need to compose a rebuttal so swiftly to some very valid points and concerns, with no hint of a sympathetic tone, whilst totally overlooking the finer details of those concerns raised says a lot...

  6. Comment by franciscus posted on

    I appreciate and the Home Office seem not to that:

    - The rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged while we are a member of the Europe Union.

    UK is leaving the EU

    - The rights of EU nationals living in the UK might change in the near future