In preparation for Brexit, 2019 saw the genesis of the new EU Settlement Scheme, which will replace the EEA Regulations and allow EEA nationals and their qualifying family members alike to obtain status under domestic Immigration Rules instead. Though in some respects applications under the new scheme might be more straightforward, there are some factors which EEA nationals should be aware of, particularly with respect to naturalisation.
Ordinarily, those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK will have to wait 12 months before being eligible to apply for British citizenship. However, spouses of British citizens and holders of a valid Permanent Residence document can forego the 12-month wait and submit a Naturalisation application as soon as they become free of immigration restrictions.
It is therefore important for EEA nationals and their qualifying family members to be made aware that holders of Settled status under the new scheme do not enjoy the same benefit and will instead have to wait 12 months before being able to apply to naturalise, unless they choose to submit a further application for Permanent Residence.
Insofar as naturalisation applications are concerned, EEA nationals should also bear in mind that the benefits of Free Movement might translate into more stringent evidential burdens down the line. Given that EEA nationals’ passports do not get stamped when moving within the EU, the Home Office has no means of establishing that the individual was actually present in the UK during the relevant period. Bank statements and utility bills are of no use in these circumstances and one would need to obtain official letters from employees or government departments to prove their presence in the UK. So, for those who were not in straightforward employment and cannot produce an employer’s letter confirming their presence in the UK, it can be very challenging to amass the requisite evidence.
At Cahill De Fonseka, we often deal with applicants in similar circumstances and can help you successfully navigate through these difficulties by finding strong, alternative means of proving your continuous residence. For more information, please call our Wimbledon offices on 02079983488, or alternatively e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org for expert advice on any immigration-related issue you might be experiencing.