UK Immigration considerations for family members of EU nationals seeking/granted British Citizenship
Nationals of the European Union who have been in the UK, exercising their Treaty Rights and who have been free of immigration restrictions i.e. had permanent residence for at least twelve months normally submit an application for British Citizenship via the naturalisation route. As a repurcussion of last week’s referendum on potential Brexit, we now expect to see a huge influx of naturalisation applications being submitted by EU nationals.
However, if you have non-EU family members residing with you in the UK on your EEA status i.e. hold a residence card (and who do not qualify for British citizenship as yet), applying for British Citizenship will also affect them as you will no longer be considered an EU National after being granted British citizenship.
It is a common misconception that if you hold dual nationality for the EU country you originally belong to and subsequently obtain British citizenship, your dependant family members’ immigration status in the UK is not affected. This is incorrect as EU nationals who are now also British citizens are not considered to be EU nationals’ for the purposes of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (‘the Regulations’).
This applies whether or not the British citizen has always resided in the UK. A family member of a dual EEA national and British citizen does not have a right of residence under the regulations on the basis of their relationship to the dual national. If they do not have a right of residence on any other basis under the regulations, they will need leave to enter or remain in the UK under the Immigration Rules.
Having said that, there are transitional arrangements which were put in place following amendments to the regulations in July 2012. These arrangements allowed family members of dual EEA and British citizens who had already relied upon a right of residence as the family member of that dual national to continue to enjoy a right of residence where certain conditions were met. These conditions are as follows:
Persons residing in the UK on 16 July 2012
Those residing in the UK on 16 July 2012 as family members of dual EEA and British citizens, and who held a valid registration certificate or residence card confirming this right on 16 October 2012 will continue to be treated as the family member of an EEA national for as long as they continue to be the family member of that dual national. This arrangement also applies where a person had a right of residence on this basis on 16 July 2012 and had submitted an application for a document confirming this right on or before 16 October 2012. Such persons will continue to have a right where a document is subsequently issued on the basis of this application.
Persons who had applied for an EEA family permit before 16 July 2012
If you submitted an application for an EEA family permit as the family member of a dual EEA and British citizen before 16 July 2012, you will continue to be treated as the family member of an EEA national if both:
- the application results in an EEA family permit being issued (including where this document is issued following a successful appeal)
- you travel to the UK within the 6-month validity period of that EEA family permit
If the family member of a dual EEA and British citizen meets the conditions above, they will continue to be treated as the family member of an EEA national for as long as they continue to be the family member of that dual national.
Anyone who falls within the transitional arrangements on the basis of an EEA family permit application does not need to apply for further confirmation of a right of residence in the UK.
If you do not meet any of the above criteria and your family member is a dual EEA and British national, then you will need to consider the alternative option e.g. applying for a UK spouse visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) under the Immigration Rules to allow you to remain in the UK.
Provided your residence permit or EEA family permit is valid you should be able to make this application from within the UK, however an assessment would need to be carried to ensure that you are eligible.
It is very important that family members of EEA Nationals ensure they have the right to remain in the UK and that they have obtained the correct immigration documents, should their partner be granted British Citizenship. Failure to do so will result in them being in breach of Immigration Laws which may result in removal from the UK or refusal of subsequent entry to the UK/future UK visa applications.
We understand that that guidance relation to EU nationals is not very clear, however we are here to help alleviate the stress from you by providing a feasible solution that avoids disruption to you and your family life in the UK.
If you would like advise about your status call us now on 020 3318 5794 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.