Introduction
Using an EEA BRC where EUSS status is held
Using an EEA BRC where EUSS status is not yet held

EEA family permits


Introduction

The Home Office has changed its policy on the use of UK residence cards (also called 'EEA biometric residence cards' or 'EEA BRCs') after 30 June 2021. The updated policy confirms that the cards can be used by individuals who have status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and for one entry by those who intend to apply under the scheme.

EEA BRCs are held by non-EEA or Swiss family members of EEA or Swiss citizens. They were issued in accordance with EU law to those who applied for them by 31 December 2020.

The UK residence cards webpage was updated on 4 or 5 May 2021 without a separate announcement. Previously, the policy stated that EEA BRCs would no longer be valid after 30 June 2021. Although EUSS status is electronic, physical evidence of that status is still needed for some purposes – in particular, for visa nationals to be able to prove to airlines and other international carriers, prior to boarding, that they have permission to enter the United Kingdom.

In response to the previous policy, the Home Office received a high level of applications from non-EEA and Swiss national EUSS status holders to replace EEA BRCs with EUSS BRCs. This created a bottleneck in application processing which the Home Office is seeking to partially address through the updated policy position.

Using an EEA BRC where EUSS status is held

Under the updated policy, a person who holds status under the EUSS can use an EEA BRC until it expires. At that point, they can apply for a replacement EUSS BRC.

This will enable the Home Office to replace EEA BRCs over a much longer period and free up biometric appointment availability case-working resources in the lead up to 30 June 2021.

Although EEA BRCs will remain valid for travel purposes, updated guidance from the Home Office on whether they can be used for right-to-work or right-to-rent checks after 30 June 2021 is awaited. It is likely that they will not be able to be used for such purposes and that an online check will be required instead.

Using an EEA BRC where EUSS status is not yet held

Those who do not have status under the EUSS can use their EEA BRC after 30 June 2021 on only one occasion to travel to and enter the United Kingdom. They must then apply under the EUSS within 28 days.

Despite the seeming simplicity of this policy, as such an application will be made after the main in-country EUSS application deadline of 30 June 2021, it appears that using it would mean that the person would not have residence rights under the grace period regulations and would therefore not have the right to work or rent private accommodation or access to benefits or public services until their status under the EUSS is approved.

It is not explicit under the policy what the position will be for those who have applied under the EUSS but have not yet received a decision. Subject to any further clarification being forthcoming from the Home Office, it would appear that the policy intention is for such a person not to be able to enter the United Kingdom until their EUSS application has been approved. So, if they departed the United Kingdom during processing, they would not be able to return using their BRC, nor would they be able to enter the United Kingdom if they applied while physically abroad.

The most appropriate course of action will depend on the individual circumstances of the specific case. However, other options may be preferable – for example, making a late EUSS application from abroad or applying for an EUSS family permit if eligible.

EEA family permits

The Home Office's policy on EEA family permits has not been updated. Unless it is revised, EEA family permits will not be valid after 30 June 2021. Anyone holding an EEA family permit will therefore be expected to apply for an EUSS family permit if they need to enter the United Kingdom after this date.

For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne or Kathryn Denyer at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000‚Äč) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.