Frequently Asked Questions about the Certificate of Permanent Residence

Many EU citizens living in the UK are concerned about their future in the country following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

For many the main solution to their concerns will be applying for a Certificate of Permanent Residence. To help EU citizens gain a greater understanding of this certificate our experienced immigration team have put together a useful FAQ.

What is a Certificate of Permanent Residence?

A Certificate of Permanent Residence proves that you have the right to live in the UK. Once you have obtained permanent residence you can continue living in the UK without restrictions on the length of stay.

How do I apply for a Certificate of Permanent Residence?

If you’re an EEA or Swiss national you can use the EEA (PR) form to apply for a document certifying permanent residence.

You can also apply online, but not if you’re a student or self-sufficient person and you are reliant on a family member for financial support or financially responsible for any other family members.

More information about the application can be found by clicking here.

How long do I have to have lived in the UK to apply?

You have to have lived in the UK for at least five years and you should still apply for PR regardless of how long in excess of five years you have lived here.

How do I get permanent resident status?

You automatically have permanent residence status (sometimes called the ‘permanent right to reside’) if you’ve lived in the UK for five years as a ‘qualified person’.

You get permanent residence in less than five years in certain situations – for example, if you have to stop working or you retire early.

You are usually a qualified person if you’re a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland and you are one of the following:

  • working
  • studying
  • self-employed
  • self-sufficient
  • looking for work

You must provide proof that you are qualified.

If you are studying or a self-sufficient person you must have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance for that period.

I have permanent resident status do I still need to apply for a Certificate of Permanent Residence?

Yes, you should still apply for a certificate to prove your claim and to apply to become a British citizen.

What documents do I need to support my application?

You need to send a range of supporting documents, including:

  • Your current and previous passports or national identity cards
  • Two passport size colour photographs
  • Evidence that you’ve been living in the UK, such as gas, electricity and council tax bills, and letters from government departments
  • Evidence that you’ve been working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for work, such as payslips, P60 forms, bank statements and tax returns

However, other documents may be requested.

How long does it take?

Currently the Home Office advise that most applications take around four to six months to be processed and a decision given.

How much does it cost?

The application itself costs £65 to process.

Does my spouse have to apply separately?

A spouse and any dependants, if not born in the UK, can be included as part of your own application.

Will I receive dual nationality if I apply?

No, applying for permanent residence is not the same as dual nationality. If you apply for full naturalisation to become a British citizen then you may or may not hold dual nationality depending on your situation.

Do I need to pass the ‘Life in UK’ test before applying?

The Certificate of Permanent Residence does not require a person to sit this test. However, those wishing to apply for full naturalisation will need to complete this requirement.

Can’t I just apply for naturalisation instead?

Unfortunately, the law changed in November 2015 and you need to obtain confirmation of permanent residence before naturalisation.

You can only use your permanent residence document to apply for British citizenship after you’ve lived in the UK for six years, which means you must wait another 12 months if you’ve only lived in the UK for five years when you get your document. You can also apply if your husband, wife or civil partner is a British Citizen and you meet certain residency requirements.

The application requires me to list every date I have left the country during my time in the UK, but I do not have a record of this – will this affect my application?

The application requires you to list your schedule of absences from the UK as best as you can. We recommend that a letter to the Home Office is included with the application which states that you have tried your best to confirm all of the dates but it is difficult to accurately recall all trips.

If you have any additional questions that are not covered by this FAQ or you would like assistance applying for a Certificate of Permanent Residence, please contact us.

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James Atton

James Atton