28% of permanent residence applications by EU citizens are being rejected, according to analysis by the Liberal Democrats earlier this year of the government’s migration data.

To avert the uncertainty around Brexit, EEA nationals are seeking to safeguard their position by applying for permanent residence now.

In addition, any EEA citizens intending to apply for British citizenship must first make a permanent residence application, or provide another document certifying permanent residence.

At 85 pages, the permanent residence application form is substantial, and clearly causing issues for applicants resulting in more than a quarter failing to meet the requirements.

According to the Home Office, refusal rates are a result of invalid applications, errors or unpaid fees.

The Home Office has published guidelines for applicants – EEA (PR) guidance notes – which includes direction as to the documentation that should be provided as part of an application for permanent residence.

There is however no prescribed list of evidence to work from.

This can leave scope for interpretation which can result in application refusals where the Home Office considers there is insufficient supporting evidence.

What happens if your application has been refused?

If your application for permanent residence has been refused, you will be given the option to appeal, or you may make a new application.

Your next step will depend on your particular circumstances, and you would be advised to seek professional advice on which course of action is most appropriate for you.

Permanent Residence Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for permanent residence, EU nationals need five years of continued residence in the UK exercising their Treaty Rights by participating in a ‘Qualified Activity’.

To obtain a permanent resident card, you must provide sufficient evidence of your Qualifying Activity covering the continuous five-year period.

Qualified Activities include:

  • employment;
  • self-employment;
  • study; and
  • economic self-sufficiency.

Qualifying Activities can be combined together to acquire permanent residence as long as they amount to five continuous years of qualifying residence.

Evidence – Avoid EEA Permanent Residence Being Refused

The evidence required as part of a permanent residence application depends on which Qualifying Activities you have participated in. There is however no exhaustive list for applicants to refer to.

The extent of the evidentiary requirement should not be underestimated. We look at examples of evidence for each of the types of Qualifying Activity:

Evidence of employment

Employment may be either part time or full time in order to qualify for a permanent residence card, as long as it is ‘genuine and effective’ employment.

The EEA (PR) guidance notes recommend that applicants provide:

  • a letter from each employer confirming the dates of employment, wages, normal hours of work, and the reason the employment ended;
  • wage slips and/or bank statements; and
  • P60s for each year of employment.

If for any reason these documents cannot be provided the guidance notes recommend enclosing a letter of explanation with addition evidence, such as:

  • P45s;
  • a signed contract of employment;
  • a notice of redundancy;
  • a letter accepting resignation; or
  • a letter of dismissal.

Evidence of job seeking

In some circumstances, job seekers are also deemed to be exercising Treaty Rights, as long as they are considered to have ‘retained worker status’.

If an applicant’s five continuous years of Qualifying Activity includes a period of looking for work, the guidance notes recommend providing evidence of:

  • registration as a jobseeker with a job centre or recruitment agency;
  • copies of job applications;
  • rejection letters;
  • invitations to interviews; and
  • professional qualifications, training or relevant work experience.

A person does not cease to be a worker because of an accident or illness temporarily prevents them from engaging in work.

Providing you can prove that during the periods of not working you were actively seeking work such as letters / emails to potential employers, CV and other job search related information, you can apply for permanent residence.

Evidence of self-employment

To prove that an EEA national has been engaged in the Qualifying Activity of self employment, EEA nationals must be registered with HRMC for income tax and national insurance as a self employed person.

Applicants should provide relevant income tax and national insurance documents for each financial year, VAT registration (if applicable), proof of earnings and proof that the business was actively trading for the entire period.

Additional evidence is recommended if the business is a partnership, a limited company, or a franchise.

As with workers, if a self-employed person is temporarily unable to continue their work because of accident or injury, they will not immediately lose their Qualified Person status.

Evidence of study

To be recognised as a student exercising Treaty Rights nations, an applicant for a permanent residence card must provide evidence demonstrating that he or she:

  • was enrolled in a course of study at a recognised education or training provider; and
  • had sufficient funds to meet their living expenses;

Proof of enrolment should take the form of a letter from a school, college, university or training provider which confirms the course, term dates, qualification, whether the course was full or part-time and the details of any work placements.

Evidence of holding sufficient funds is discussed below.

So as not to place a financial burden on a host state, there is a further requirement for EEA nationals exercising their right to study in the UK to obtain comprehensive sickness insurance.

Proof of this insurance is required as further evidence of exercising the Treaty Right to study.

Evidence of economic self-sufficiency

Self-sufficient permanent resident card applicants must demonstrate that they have more than the maximum level of finance and resources for a UK national to qualify for social assistance.

The guidance notes recommend that permanent residence applicants provide one of the following:

  • itemised bank statements;
  • building society pass book;
  • evidence of receipt of a pension;
  • evidence of income from rental property;
  • wage slips from lawful employment;
  • evidence of income from lawful self-employment;
  • (student only) evidence of a grant, scholarship or bursary;
  • (student only) a declaration, signed and dated by the relevant EEA; national, confirming that they have/had sufficient financial resources.