Most Home Office application forms are accompanied with guidance explaining how to make a valid application, and the EEA(PR) application form is no different. While the EEA(PR) form was last updated in March 2016 the guidance accompanying that form was last updated in December 2015 and so an update has been well overdue. The Home Office have finally got around to that with new guidance issued this month.
Surprisingly for the Home Office, the new guidance provides some helpful pointers and also eases the evidential burden for some requirements, bringing it closer to, but not quite in accordance with, EU law. Unsurprisingly for the Home Office, the guidance has more than doubled in size up from 18 pages to 40.
The new guidance finally confirms that the use of the EEA(PR) form is mandatory, clearing up the contradiction between the old guidance and this requirement which commenced on 01 February 2017. This contradiction caused many problems including some individuals applying without using an application form. The new guidance also provides some useful practical information including links to the forms (both paper and online) and what to avoid to prevent your application being sent back as invalid.
Some other highlights include:
Proof of residence
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The new guidance simplifies the proof of residence requirement somewhat with confirmation that, if you are applying as an employed person, you do not need to provide corresponding proof of residence for the same period. Previously this was not the case. If you are applying in another capacity (for example, as a self-employed person) you only need one piece of residence evidence for every 12 month period instead of the previous two. You are now not required to provide proof of residence if your 5 year qualifying period ends less than two years before your application for a permanent residence document.
The Home Office also provides a table of documents that they would prefer to see to demonstrate proof of residence. Unhelpfully, they indicate some documents which have, in their opinion, no value at all and therefore should not be sent, including references or statements from family and friends. How well this can stand up to a legal challenge is questionable, but if you do have more suitable proof of residence we recommend sending this.
Absences from the UK
A part of the EEA(PR) form that takes a long time to complete is the requirement to list all absences from the UK, however brief, and with the EEA(PR) form becoming mandatory this section has become a real pain for applicants who regularly travel within Europe. The Home Office have reduced this burden by asking to list consecutive periods absences of 6 months or more in any 12 month period. You no longer need to list absences less than 6 months in length or absences prior to the 5 year qualifying period.
Proof of employment
The guidance confirms, if you have P60s for each year, this will be sufficient on its own to evidence employment. While this has always been the case, previous guidance was not so explicit. If you do not have P60s and intend to rely on payslips the guidance clears up how many payslips you need to provide, stating that 3 payslips for each year would be sufficient, with rules about which payslips and intervals between them.
The Home Office accepts electronic versions of P60s (otherwise referred to as ep60s) and electronic versions of payslips without any additional authentication from the employer so long as the full detail of the employer’s name and address is shown.
Applying for British citizenship
The guidance also clears up a particular point of confusion as to when someone becomes eligible to apply for British citizenship. Without explicit guidance individuals were not sure if they can apply immediately on receipt of the permanent residence document or if they need to wait one year from the date of its issuing. The Home Office has cleared that up, stating that you can apply immediately on receipt of the permanent residence document so long as you have demonstrated that you have acquired permanent residence more than one year ago.
When your application is successful the Home Office will send you a letter accompanying the permanent residence document confirming the date at which you acquired permanent residence based on the evidence you enclosed with the application.
When making the application make sure you choose a five year period starting at least six years ago to ensure you can apply for naturalisation as soon as you receive the permanet residence document.
Worker Registration Scheme
The guidance also confirms that if you were not registered under Worker Registration Scheme, you can not count any periods of residence prior to 30 April 2011. The guidance doesn’t say clearly that, if you were not registered or not exempt from registration, it does not prevent you from applying so long as you rely on a period of residence commencing on 31 April 2011. However, if you were not registered or not exempt you may face questions of good character under this requirement when you apply for British citizenship.