In the UK, any EEA citizens making a permanent residence application are required to provide evidence of their participation in a ‘Qualifying Activity’ for a continuous period of five years.

In the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, EEA nationals presently exercising their ‘Treaty Rights’ to reside in the UK face an uncertain future.

Permanent residence cards are now a prerequisite for any person seeking to become a British citizen and many EEA nationals are applying for an EEA residence card to confirm their enduring right to reside in the UK.

Right of residence in the UK for EEA citizens

When any EEA citizen arrives in the UK, he or she is entitled to an initial right of residence for three months.

To maintain the right to reside after this period, the EEA national must exercise their Treaty Rights by participating in a Qualified Activity.

Qualified Activities include:

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

Permanent residence cards

Where an EEA national has continuously exercised Treaty Rights for a period of five years or more, he or she will acquire the permanent right of residence.

This means that the person’s residence is no longer dependent on continuously participating in a Qualified Activity.

If EEA citizens intend to apply for British citizenship, from November 2015, they must first make a permanent residence application or provide another document certifying permanent residence.

An EEA residence card can also be used as evidence of a person’s continued right to reside in the UK.

To obtain a permanent resident card, an EEA national must provide evidence that he or she has participated in a Qualifying Activity for a continuous five-year period.

Various Qualifying Activities can be combined over five years.

The evidence required as part of a permanent residence application depends on which qualifying activities the EEA national has participated in.

There is no prescribed evidence that must be provided in an application. The EEA(PR) guidance notes published by the Home Office provide some direction as to the documentation that should be provided.

These notes also offer guidance relating to the evidence that may be required to prove an applicant’s identity, nationality and living arrangements in the UK.

Evidence of working

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.

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.

As with students, to exercise the right of self-sufficiency, permanent residence card applicants must also prove that they had comprehensive sickness insurance in place during the period of self-sufficiency.