This is important information for all EEA nationals and non-EEA family members who are looking to Naturalise as a British Citizen. There has been a change in government legislation which will most likely affect you.
As of 12th November 2015, any EEA nationals or their non-EEA family members wanting to apply for Naturalisation or Registration to become British will need to apply for a document certifying their permanent residence before they can naturalise/register. Previously EEA nationals automatically acquired Permanent Residence status in the UK after exercising their treaty rights in the UK for 5 continuous years.
Those affected by this change will most likely feel like this is an additional and lengthy step in their process; previously a person was able to apply for Naturalisation after holding permanent residence status for one year which was acquired automatically. Now even if you have been in the UK for 15 years you will need to apply for a document certifying permanent residence and hold that status for one year before applying for British citizenship.
I am sure most of you are wondering, why is the Home Office requesting for this additional step now? Well, this change will mean that consideration of permanent residence will be completed prior to the citizenship process, thus reducing the complexities and any additional time needed to currently consider a citizenship application from an EEA national or family member.
Not only is this an additional step, but it also comes at the cost of £65 to obtain a document certifying permanent residence. Most people will feel this is a nominal fee to pay; however, process is cumbersome, document intensive and the form confusing.
It is probably correct to assume that the introduction of obtaining a document certifying permanent residence will be a burden for most EEA nationals and their family members, and they can expect to be without their passport for a fair amount of time whilst the application is being considered.
So whilst obtaining a document certifying permanent residence makes it easier for the Home Office, that is not the case for the individuals.