Permanent Residence Card

Permanent Residence Card
Legally reviewed by: Sherena Lawrence

Permanent Residence Card UK

If you are from inside the European Economic Area (EEA), or a family member of an EEA national, you may be able to apply for a permanent residence card. Our immigration solicitors can help make the process a lot easier and keep you informed of developments in UK immigration policies.

Why Might European Citizens Apply?

You don’t currently need to apply for a permanent residence card to live and work in the UK. However, this may soon change.

After five years of residency in the UK you are eligible to apply for permanent settlement, with or without a permanent residence card.

Unlike permanent settlement, you don’t need to have spent a set amount of time in the UK to apply for a residence card. You can apply straight after you move to the UK if you wish.

Permanent residency can also:

  • Help you re-enter the country more quickly and easily if you travel abroad
  • Show employers you are allowed to work in the UK
  • Help prove you qualify for certain benefits and services

Many European citizens will need this security, now more than ever. With so much uncertainty around changes to immigration policy, permanently settling in the UK can seem worrying.

If you would like to apply for your permanent residence card or learn more about your rights regarding continuous residency in the UK, get in touch today.

Our Advice to EU Citizens Concerned about Brexit

Because of the uncertainty regarding Brexit and how easily EEA citizens will find swapping their permanent residence cards in practice, we still advise that obtaining documentation proving permanent residence is in your best interest.

Applying for Your Permanent Residence Card

To do this you need to apply for a permanent residence card. Alternatively, extended family members can have a valid EEA family permit.

Residence cards last up to five years. After this, you can apply for a permanent residence card.

Applications are considered based on your individual circumstances and you may not be approved for a residence card even if you meet the conditions.

However, with our solicitors by your side, you can rest assured that you’ll have the best chance of being granted a permanent residence card.

General Requirements

You can apply for a permanent residence card if:

  • You and your family member are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • You’re the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national who is a permanent resident or ‘qualified person’
  • You are an EU citizen

Whether you are a family member or an extended family member affects the form you use to apply. You may also be eligible for a permanent residence card if you have a ‘retained right of residence’ or make a ‘Surinder Singh’ application.

Qualified Persons

A qualified person is someone who is in the UK and:

  • Working,
  • Self-employed,
  • Self-sufficient,
  • Studying, or
  • Looking for work and meets certain conditions

Family Members of EEA Citizens

If you are related to an EEA national you can apply for permanent residency as a direct family member. You can do this if you are:

  • Their spouse or civil partner
  • Their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) child or grandchild, and you are under 21 or a dependant
  • Their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent parent or grandparent

If the EEA national is a student, you can only qualify as their family member if you are:

  • Their spouse or civil partner
  • Their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent child

Other relatives of students must apply as extended family members.

Extended Family Members

You can apply as an extended family member of an EEA national if you are:

  • Their unmarried partner, and you are in a lasting relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership
  • A relative of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) but you don’t qualify as their family member
  • A near relative, including brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces and cousins. Relatives can also include grandchildren, parents and grandparents if the EEA national only has the right to reside as a student

As well as being a relative of the EEA national, one of the following must be true:

  • Before coming to the UK you must have been, and still be, dependent on them
  • Before coming to the UK you must have been, and still be, a member of their household
  • You need their personal care (or that of their spouse or civil partner) on serious health grounds

If you are an extended family member you need to have a valid EEA permit or residence card in order to stay in the UK.


Any children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or someone over 18 who has legal responsibility for them. If that responsible adult isn’t their parent or guardian, they must be named on the application form.

Children under six years old don’t need to provide fingerprints but they will need to have a digital photo taken of their face.

Retained Rights of Residence

You can also apply if you used to have a family member, or extended family member, who was a permanent resident or qualified person. This is called a ‘retained right of residence’. You may get this if, for example:

  • Your marriage or civil partnership to an EEA citizen has now ended (with a divorce, annulment or dissolution)
  • Your EEA family member has died and you lived in the UK as their family member for at least one year before their death
  • You are in education and you are the child of an EEA citizen (or their current or former spouse or civil partner) who has left the UK or died
  • Your child has a retained right of residence because they’re in education in the UK (and you have custody of them)

If this is the case you will need to prove:

  • That your family member, or extended family member, was a permanent resident or qualified person at the time your family relationship ended
  • How the relationship ended – for example a death certificate or decree absolute if you divorced

You can only retain your right of residence as an extended family member if both the following apply:

  • You currently hold a valid residence card as the extended family member of an EEA national
  • You meet all of the relevant conditions

You can’t retain your right of residence if you were the unmarried partner of the EEA national and that relationship has broken down.

Surinder Singh Applications

You might also be able to make a ‘Surinder Singh’ application which relies on EU freedom of movement laws, instead of UK immigration laws.

If you lived in an EEA country with a British family member, you may be able to join them in the UK under ‘Surinder Singh’.

To make a ‘Surinder Singh’ application your British family member must be either:

  • Your spouse (husband or wife) or civil partner
  • Your parent or grandparent (or their spouse or civil partner) – in this case you must also be under 21 years old or dependent on them
  • Your child or grandchild (or their spouse or civil partner) – in this case they must be dependent on you

To be eligible, your British family member must either have the right to permanent residence in the EEA country, where you lived together, or prove that whilst there they were:

  • Working, self-employed or self-sufficient – for example employer’s letters, wage slips, contracts, bank statements or proof of tax registration
  • Studying – for example proof of enrolment and attendance

Their employment status in the UK now must also be one of the following:

  • Working or looking for work
  • Studying
  • Self-employed
  • Self-sufficient

Both you and your British family member must prove that you genuinely made your home in the EEA country where you lived together. It must have been your main residence or base for the ‘centre of your life’.

You’ll need to include proof that you both:

  • Lived there together – for example your addresses, time spent living at each address and any proof of renting or buying a home
  • Were integrated there – for example you spoke the language, had children born or living there, or were involved in your local community

You must also provide lists showing all of your:

  • Previous travel to and from the UK – including the dates you arrived and left
  • Other UK visa or immigration applications – include whether you applied from inside or outside the UK, and details of each visa or permission to stay if you were successful
  • Removals, deportations and other immigration penalties in the UK

After you’ve submitted your application, you might get a letter asking you or your British family member to give more information or go to an interview. If it looks like you only lived in another EEA country to get UK residence through a ‘Surinder Singh’ application, your application will be refused.

Documents You Need to Provide

For each person who is named on your permanent residency application, you need to provide:

  • A current passport
  • Two passport size colour photographs
  • One passport size colour photograph of your European Economic Area (EEA) national (or British citizen) sponsor
  • Your EEA family member’s valid passport or national identity card
  • Evidence of your relationship to your EEA family member – such as a marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, birth certificate or proof that you’ve lived together for two years if you’re unmarried

You also need to provide proof of one of the following, depending on your eligibility:

  • That your EEA family member has a permanent right of residence
  • That your EEA family member is a ‘qualified person’
  • That you qualify because of a ‘retained right of residence’
  • That you qualify for a ‘Surinder Singh’ application

You will need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh. You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances, but we can advise you on this.

Read the guidance on the application form relevant to you, either:

  • Application for a family member, form EEA (FM)
  • Application for an extended family member, form EEA (EFM)
  • Biometric information

You’ll be asked to provide your biometric information as part of your application. You can do this at certain Post Office branches and it costs £19.20.

You will need to:

  • Have a digital photo taken of your face
  • Put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned
  • Give your signature
  • Give details of any medical or physical conditions

If you don’t have any fingers or hands you’ll only need to have a digital photo taken of your face. It will be noted on your records that you’re physically unable to provide fingerprints.

If you or any dependants need any special arrangements to give your biometrics, include a letter from your doctor with your application. The letter should include the details of your condition and the special arrangements you need.

How Our Immigration Solicitors Will Help You

With so many variations and implications for each type of application, it is very easy to get confused about which you should apply for. Even if you choose the right one, it’s easy to make errors that mean your application is turned down.

Our expert immigration solicitors will handle your application from beginning to end.

They will coordinate everything, collect and organise your documents, and ensure that you have the best chance of a successful application.

To learn more about how we can look after your permanent residence card application, call us today or request a call back.

We're here for you.