Confusion over British Citizenship for EEA Nationals
In November 2015, the rules governing the granting of British citizenship to European Economic Area (EEA) citizens were changed. Previously, the qualification for British citizenship rested – amongst the usual criteria of good character etc. – on the applicant having been resident in the UK for five (or in some cases three) years continuously, and having spent the previous twelve months in permanent residence.
The change, which came into effect on November 12th, introduced a formal documentary element to these rules. Whereas previously the amount of time spent in the country was automatically registered with the Home Office, the new ruling demanded that in order to apply for full British citizenship applicants must obtain a permanent residence certificate.
In formal terms, this reworking of the application process was enacted by the British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1806). The guidance to Home Office caseworkers has also been updated, at least in part: see pages 19 and 22 of that document.
Confusion in administration
There has been some confusion surrounding the timing of applications in the wake of these changes. However, the logic of the prior arrangement is retained. That means that the amount of time spent in the UK is itself the key qualifying legal criterion. There is no resetting of the clock once the permanent residency certificate has been obtained. Time spent in the UK in the run up to the granting of that certificate still satisfies the condition of having spent twelve months in permanent residence.
In practical terms what this means is that an application for full British citizenship can be made as soon as a permanent residency certificate is obtained. There have been cases reported of some case workers failing to appreciate this aspect of the changes. Anyone finding themselves in this position needs to be aware of the true legal position – as clarified under a freedom of information request in January 2016.
YDVISAS specialise in all visa categories and are specialist immigration lawyers in the UK. Please contact the expert team at YDVISAS, should you need any professional help with your visa application.