Increasing numbers of European nationals have been approaching me to ask about applying for British citizenship. Most have lived in the UK for many years, but are feeling increasingly insecure as an EU referendum date comes closer.
Two important problems are now surfacing.
Permanent residence certificate
The first is that if you are an EU national applying for British citizenship, you must now produce a document certifying a right of permanent residence in the UK. There are legal questions to address about whether it is lawful for the Government now to make this requirement. However, most people applying for citizenship are not interested in taking legal action against the Government.
The effect of the new requirement is to increase the time needed for most EU nationals to apply for citizenship by the 6 months it can take to produce a PR certificate.
Accession state nationals
The second problem is for “accession” state nationals whose employment rights were initially restricted under the worker registration (for A8 nationals) or worker authorisation (for A2 nationals) schemes.
Those restrictions required accession state nationals to complete a continuous 12-month period with the correct permission for employment before they could then work freely in the UK. A number of people are finding that because they did not complete that 12 months period correctly or in full, their subsequent work in the UK was unlawful until restrictions were lifted entirely.
This means that a person who has been in the UK for a number of years could still have to wait to complete 5 continuous years of lawful residence, before applying for a PR certificate.
The requirement to produce a PR certificate does at least mean that accession state nationals in this position will discover this problem before they spend more than £1,000 on a citizenship application.
If you need to know more about how to apply for British citizenship, or if you have any questions about whether you have acquired a right of permanent residence, please contact me to ask about a consultation.