Around 3 million European nationals currently live in the UK under European right to free movement rules, with about 2.2 million in work. Historically few applied to register their immigration status as EU citizens as visas were not, and are still not, required following the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016. However in these uncertain times there has been a spike in the number of applications for permanent residence (“PR“) from EU citizens that have spent 5 years or more in the UK, and also in the number of applicants for registration certificates to evidence their right to live in the UK. Recent research has suggested it could take up to 140 years to process applications from all Europeans resident in the UK using current Home Office resources. Our e-alert has more information.

On 1 October the Home Office rolled out a new streamlined online service as an alternative to the long paper form used by EEA nationals when applying for PR cards or registration certificates. In addition to the online service some boroughs are also offering a new passport check and return service.

How do the services work?

  • Applicants complete and submit an online form. Payment of the £65 application fee is made online.
  • Applicants then have two choices:
    • post their application pack to the Home Office within 10 days; or
    • book an appointment for the passport return service. If used, applicants must attend the appointment within 5 working days of form submission. Participating local authorities copy the passport to submit with the pack and return the original document to the applicant. Premium service centers are also available in Belfast or Glasgow.
  • The passport return service is not a document checking or application advisory service. Using it will not guarantee the success of the application.

Who can use these services?

  • Students or self-sufficient persons cannot use the online application form if they are (i) reliant on a family member to provide income, or (ii) financially responsible for other family members.
  • Non-EEA national family dependants cannot use the online forms and must continue to use the paper form.
  • Not every local authority offers the passport checking service. However boroughs will accept applications from those not resident in their borough.

What does it cost

  • The PR and registration certificate application fee remains at £65 per applicant.
  • Applicants who wish to use the passport return service will pay an additional cost of between £10 and £15 each.
  • It is not clear yet.
  • The key advantage to the passport return service is that applicants will not surrender their passport to the Home Office during processing, leaving them free to travel during this period.
  • This service runs alongside the existing same day processing service for registration certificate applicants which attracts an additional £500 fee per visa applicant.