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With the UK primed to pull the trigger on the Article 50 exit process within a week, we’re seeing an increasing number of queries from EEA nationals wishing to obtain documentary evidence of their right to reside in the UK. Applying for a Registration Certificate is not currently mandatory, however, this may change as exit negotiations progress and the Government looks to distinguish between those EEA nationals residing in the UK and those visiting.

Why are so Many EEA nationals Looking to Document their UK Immigration Status?

The key issue is uncertainty. We simply don’t know whether free movement will continue after the separation. In the event we do see the end of free movement rights post-Brexit (and the Government’s White Paper published in February indicated that is likely), there would need to be a mechanism to distinguish pre-Brexit EEA nationals, perhaps a registration scheme to allow them to evidence their immigration status at the border and to potential employers.

EEA nationals residing in the UK at present are looking ahead and seeking ways to gain reassurance and protection from future legislative changes.

Who Qualifies for a Registration Certificate?

You will qualify if you are an EEA or Swiss national living in the UK and economically active (i.e., exercising your Treaty Rights via either working, studying, self-employment, self-sufficiency or job seeking).

A registration certificate will be valid for up to 5 years, however, an EEA national currently has the right of residence in the UK for as long as they exercise their Treaty rights here. If you haven’t yet spent the continuous 5 year period in the UK to be eligible for permanent residence, a registration certificate is an alternative.

What Does the Application Process Involve?

EEA nationals should submit an application on Form EEA(QP), along with evidence of your status as an EEA national and that you are currently resident in the UK, exercising Treaty Rights in one of the above ways. The application form can be submitted by post or online, accompanied by the £65 application fee.

There are several submission methods available. The recently introduced European passport return service allows you and your family members applying with you to take your passports to a participating local authority for verification and copying, and for the local authority to then send the copy to the Home Office. This allows you to keep your passports while your applications are being processed.

Applications submitted on this basis or via post directly to the Home Office can take up to 6 months to process, although recently we are seeing them returned within around 3-4 months.

Submission is possible at a Premium Service Centre and would then be processed on a 24 hour basis if applying without family, however, appointments under this system are notoriously hard to obtain.

Sticky Topics

The required documents are relatively straightforward, although be warned that if submitting by post and not using the European passport return service, your original passport or EEA ID card must be submitted with the application. Additionally, any supporting documents included with the application, such as your employment contract, bank statements, pay slips or utility bills to evidence your UK residence must be original versions and not copies.

If you are applying as a self-sufficient person or student, comprehensive private medical insurance is a requirement and the policy document should be included with your application. Holding a European Health Insurance Card if issued by the UK may not be enough, watch out for a Fragomen blog on that topic shortly.

Close family members can apply with you if they are resident in the UK and using the postal route. The relevant form is EEA (FM) or EEA (EFM) depending on the nature of the family relationship. If applying online, family members can be included on the EEA(QP) form.

Finally, check with your relevant local authority for any local requirements prior to making your application if using the European passport return service. Certain authorities now offer walk-in appointments to alleviate the large volume of applications now being processed in the wake of the referendum result and impending invoking of Article 50. For others, you may need to book an appointment in advance and others have an associated admin fee. Conveniently, you can select which participating office you attend and are not limited to using your own local authority.

Should I Submit an Application?

With so much uncertainty around Brexit, it is just not possible to know if holding a registration certificate to evidence your residency will become mandatory or not going forwards. That said, we understand that for some just having the certificate provides a level of comfort that in itself would justify making an application now.

Fragomen are able to advise on all aspects of your application, provide an assessment of eligibility or review any documents you may have already put together yourself.

Should you require any assistance with your application for a Registration Certificate, please contact your Fragomen representative for a consultation.