14 November 2017
Protection from Brexit
Since the EU referendum last year, there have been several announcements and leaked reports from the Home Office around what will happen to EU workers after Britain leaves the European Union. This has understandably caused some unease for a lot of businesses and has prompted them to ask what they can do to protect themselves. Chris Brazier, business immigration lawyer at B P Collins, offers practical advice.
Whilst current UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) guidance suggests that EU nationals should sit tight and wait for email updates, EU nationals can potentially insulate themselves from the post Brexit tightening of immigration control by applying for a Permanent Residence Document (PRD) immediately. A comprehensive checklist for hotel owners and their employees on how to achieve this is below.
To qualify for permanent residence you must:
- be an EU national and have spent a continuous period of at least five years living in the UK;
- not have travelled outside the UK for more than six months in a 12-month period during your five years in the UK;
- have been a qualified person throughout your five years in the UK, which means being employed, self-employed, a student or a "self-sufficient" person.
To show that you qualify for permanent residence status you must apply for a PRD.
PRD applications only cost £65 and processing times are at least six months.
You can either use the 85-page paper form or the online application form. The online form is recommended because it allows applicants to use the European Passport Return Service, so they can take their passport along to an appointment with a participating local authority, have a copy of it taken and sent to UKVI.
This is not an option when using the paper form and your passport must be sent with the application, which could be problematic if you have a holiday booked in the next six months.
There is a raft of supporting documents that must be sent with your application which differ depending on how you qualify as an eligible person. Care should be taken to ensure you provide the correct documentary evidence as your application will be rejected if insufficient or incorrect documents are submitted.
Family members of EU nationals can “piggyback” on their applications and obtain a permanent residence document in their own right.
Home office response
Please be aware that the Home Office is taking a hard-line in relation to documents that are submitted with applications for PRD. Given the lengthy processing times for applications, it is well worth getting it right first time.
- Take legal advice if your qualifying status is uncertain. The guidance can be tricky and ambiguous and a small investment could save a lot of time in the long run;
- A PRD shows that EU nationals have been exercising treaty rights for 5 years; this should help to evidence and switch their status when freedom of movement is replaced;
- The applicable criteria is certain, relatively achievable and the application is affordable;
- Make sure you are submitting the right documents with your application;
- The guidance in this area is changing regularly so always check you are working to the most recent version before submitting your application;
- EU nationals still have the right to live and work freely in the UK at the moment. Even if your application is rejected, in the vast majority of circumstances you do not have to leave the UK;
- If you wish to apply for British citizenship, you must have a document certifying permanent residence and have usually held this for one year before doing so. If you don’t and you try to apply for citizenship, the Home Office will reject your application and will not refund you the £1,282 application fee.