In a useful policy document explaining internal processes within the UK Visas and Immigration department of the Home Office, it is confirmed that applicants for EU free movement documents such as residence certificates, residence cards and family permits do NOT have to use the forms provided by the Home Office.
This may come as quite a relief to those faced with the mammoth Form EEA(FM) I covered earlier: UK blatantly obstructing EU free movement rights with red tape. Since that post, a new version of the form has been introduced that is even longer. It now weighs in at 137 pages. At the time of that blog post I drew attention to the “not mandatory” disclaimer that used to be included on the old forms but which was omitted from the new EEA(FM). It is still missing on the even newer version but this policy offers reassurance that the form is still not a mandatory one.
The document, Processes and procedures for EEA documentation applications, explains:
Persons applying for a document confirming a right of residence under EU law may use the relevant form as set out above.
However, applicants do not have to use these forms and an application for any of the documents mentioned above must not be refused because it has not been made on the appropriate form.
A letter asking for a document to be issued, or an application made on one of the previous forms (see below) is acceptable, provided the applicant:
- submits the specified fee with the application
- gives their biometric information, if they are a non-EEA national applying on or after 6 April 2015
Forms EEA(QP), EEA(FM), EEA(EFM) and EEA(PR) came into use on 30 January 2015. However, you may continue to see applications made on the previous forms. This is acceptable, provided the applicant pays the specified fee and (if they are a non-EEA national) gives their biometric information.
You cannot refuse or reject an application just because it is not on the right form. A letter requesting a registration certificate, or an application made on the previous form (EEA1), is acceptable provided the correct fee is submitted with the application.
This is certainly correct as a matter of law: there are no mandatory forms that have to be used for EU law applications, unlike for domestic UK immigration law applications under the Immigration Rules. Those interested in Surinder Singh rights should note that this policy applies to their applications, which are made under EU law not UK rules: the EEA(FM) does not need to be used for Surinder Singh applications.
However, it will always be necessary to pay the required fee and provide biometric details. The relevant pages from the new EEA(FM) can be used for that purpose.
Personally, as a lawyer I have been nervous of suggesting to clients that they ignore the forms that are provided because I have feared that doing so would delay consideration or even lead to an unnecessary refusal by an irritated Home Office caseworker. I would still not discount such a possibility, but there is at least some useful ammunition for challenging any such issues that arise.
I will be updating the Surinder Singh ebook accordingly, but am exceedingly busy right now so that may not be for a few weeks.
Comprehensive examination of law, policy and practice around the "Surinder Singh route" including hints and tips on avoiding problems. Foreword by Sonel Mehta of BritCits.