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UK permanent residency for EU citizens

European (EU) nationals can move to the UK to live and work. EU citizens can also bring their partner and dependent children under the age of 18 to accompany them.

UK permanent residency for Irish citizens

Irish citizens have a special status in UK immigration and British nationality law that pre-dates EU law. An Irish citizen can travel freely into and out of the UK without restriction and are not subject to the requirement of exercising EU treaty rights.

Adult Irish citizens moving to the UK

Irish citizens are:

  • Not required to exercise EU treaty rights
  • Considered settled upon entry in the UK
  • Not required to obtain a permanent residence card before qualifying for naturalisation

After five years of continuous residence in the UK, an Irish citizen can apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. Both Ireland and the UK allow dual nationality.

Irish children under 18

Irish citizens are deemed as being settled in the UK as per section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971.

The consequence of this is that any children under the age of 18 (in most circumstances, though it can sometimes extend to those under the age of 21) of an Irish citizen and a British citizen parent can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) immediately and would not have to apply for a dependancy visas.

Broadly speaking, then, a child can claim indefinite leave to remain in the UK where:

  • The child is under 18 years of age
  • One parent holds Irish citizenship
  • The other parent holds British citizenship
  • The definition of “present and settled” is given in paragraph 6*

*Given as, “…means that the person concerned is settled in the UK and, at the time that an application under these rules is made, is physically present here or is coming here with or to join the applicant and intends to make the UK their home with the applicant if the application is successful.”

In the context of an application under paragraph 298 of HC 395, the requirement states that one of the following should be true:

  • Both parents are present and settled in the UK
  • Both parents are being admitted on the same occasion for settlement
  • One parent is present and settled in the UK and the other is being admitted on the same occasion for settlement

This provision does not relate to citizens of the other European Union member states – only Irish citizens are treated as settled for this purpose.

In the context of a child born in the UK to an Irish citizen, that child will acquire citizenship under section 1(1)b of the British Nationality Act 1981, provided that the Irish citizen is ordinarily resident in the UK at the time of the birth.

In the context of an application for naturalisation as a British citizen under section 6(2) or 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981, an Irish citizen must be deemed as being "without time restrictions on their stay in the UK".

Get UK permanent residency as an EU citizen

European Union (EU) nationals can move to the UK to live and work by exercising their EU treaty rights. They can also bring extended family members to the UK.

EU citizens and treaty rights in the UK

To remain legally in the UK, you need to be exercising European Union (EU) treaty rights. This requires that you are a student, working or self-sufficient. On 27 October 2015, new regulations were passed in the UK to prevent EU citizens applying for British nationality if they do not first hold a permanent residence card in the UK.

After a period of five years' continuous residency in the UK, you can apply for this permanent residence card (as long as you meet the set of criteria) and become a permanent resident in the UK. After a further 12 months you will be able to naturalise as a British citizen.

Visas for partners of EU nationals

The EEA family permit allows you to join your EU national partner or family member in the UK. The basic criteria are:

  • You must apply from outside the EEA
  • You must be a family or "extended" family member of an EU national

As a non-EU national applying for an EEA family permit, you will only be able to apply if the EEA citizen you are joining in the UK is:

  • Already living in the UK
  • Travelling with you to the UK within the next six months

If the EEA citizen you are joining has been in the UK for over three months, then he or she will need to be a qualified person. This means they are working, studying, self-sufficient or looking for work in the UK or hold permanent right of residence.

Read more information on partner visas for people in a relationship with an EU national.

r a residence permit in the UK. It will make travelling abroad much easier and will show potential employers that you are able to work in the UK.

Visas are still available for parents wanting to join their children. This is usually only possible when the parent is financially dependent on the child in the UK (for European passport holders) or when a parent is unable to function in their home country due to illness or disability (British passport holders).

The European citizens to whom EEA permanent residence applies are: Austrians, Belgians, Bulgarians, Croatia, Cypriots, Czechs, Danes, Estonians, Finns, French, Germans, Greeks, Hungarians, Italians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Luxembourg Citizens, Maltese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Romanians, Slovakians, Slovenians, Spanish and Swedes.

EEA family permit

The EEA family permit is similar to a visa, as it allows you to enter and leave the UK as a non-EEA family member of an EEA national.

An EEA national who lives and works in the UK can sponsor a family member. The definition of a family member is generous and includes a child, parent, fiancé, unmarried partner, grandchild or grandparent.

Any successful applicant can study, work or live in the UK without restriction.

Applicants may eventually be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain and British nationality.

The criteria for applying for ILR in the UK are:

  • You must pass the “Life in the UK Test”
  • You must pass an English language test

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