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Naturalization & Passport Services

As an EEA National living in the UK, can I apply to become a British citizen?

November 7, 2017 2,146

In November 2015 the Home Office updated the immigration rules in the UK, making it mandatory for all EEA nationals to first obtain a permanent residence card before they can apply to become a British national.
What is permanent residence?
Permanent residence refers to an individual’s resident status in a country where they are not a citizen. The individual is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen, and any person with such status, is known as a permanent resident.
In the case of EEA nationals and their families living in the UK, they can apply to the Home Office to obtain a permanent residence card. This will allow them to remain in the UK indefinitely.

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How can I qualify for a permanent residence card?
To be eligible for the permanent residence card, you must be an EEA national and you must provide evidence that you have been living and exercising your treaty rights in the UK continuously for 5 years – engaging in one or more of the following:

• work
• self-employment
• study
• self-sufficiency

It is worth noting that absences from the UK of more than 6 months during the 5 year qualifying period may prevent you from acquiring permanent residence, as the chain of continuous residence would have broken. This would cause the time to lapse and the 5 year period would have to be built up again following your return to the UK.
Additionally, gaps in employment should be avoided where possible, as there are only certain circumstances in which gaps are permitted. If you cannot provide a good reason for the gap in employment, it may cause the qualifying period to lapse. Note, maternity leave of up to 12 months is accepted.
If you are a student or you are self-sufficient, you must ensure that you have the appropriate comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) throughout the 5 year period to obtain permanent residence. Failure to obtain CSI, or any periods in which you did not have the CSI cover, may prevent you from qualifying for permanent residence.

What does the Permanent residence card look like?
Once you qualify and submit your application for permanent residence, you will receive this:

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What next?
If you wish to naturalise as a British citizen in the UK, you must ensure that you have had your permanent residence card for at least 12 months before you apply. You must also ensure that you have not been outside of the UK for longer than three months in the 12 month period.
And you also need to satisfy the criteria below:
• you’re 18 or over
• you’re of good character, for example, you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record, and you haven’t tried to deceive the Home Office or been involved in immigration offences in the last 10 years
• you’ll continue to live in the UK
• you’ve met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
• you meet the residency requirement
If you would like further information, please contact our offices on 0203 137 9290.

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