Avoiding EEA Family Permit Refusals

EEA family permit refusals

In Part 1, of our series on EEA applications we looked at the application process, and documents required to apply for an EEA family permitHere, in the second part of our series, we look at EEA family permit refusals, focusing on the top 3 reasons for refusals and how to avoid them.

Background

EEA family permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 but has seen little change from Regulations 2006. The issue of the permits does not fall under UK Immigration Rules.

The purpose of the family permit is to allow overseas nationals, from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), (or non-EEA nationals) to enter the United Kingdom (UK) and join their family member, as long as they are the:

  • Family member of an EEA national, or
  • Extended family member of an EEA national

There is no application fee and the process is not as onerous as compared to, say, applying for a UK spouse visa under the Immigration Rules. So what could possibly go wrong? Let’s explore…

Context

According to the Home Office’s National Immigration Statistics as of the end of 2018,  the number of EEA family permits that were granted from 2015 to 2018 was as follows:

  • 2015 – 30,302
  • 2016 – 33,118
  • 2017 – 27,106
  • 2018 – 36,555

So, 30,302 EEA family permits were issued overseas in 2015. The number of EEA family permits issued rose by almost 10% in 2016 to 33,118. While there was a dip in the number of approvals in 2017, the numbers rose to their highest levels in 2018, a likely reflection of the high number of applications there were received in the run up to the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Extracting details of the number of successful applications and the rate of refusals is difficult and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the body responsible for processing applications, is often unwilling to provide such specific data. Much of the data tends to include other types of applications and categories.

Yet, from direct experience, UKVI was well known for inappropriately refusing EEA family permits and using an inconsistent approach when considering applications.

When presenting cases in the immigration Tribunal on behalf of the Secretary of State, it was, unfortunately, not usual for applicants to successfully lodge an appeal against an adverse decision of an Entry Clearance Officer or in a few instances, to withdraw a UKVI decision because it was poorly argued.

Nowadays, the decision making has improved but the European Commission noted that non-EEA family members are still being denied family permits by UKVI on invalid grounds, or without a justified reason.

In fact, the European Commission stated:

Only in the UK is it possible to state that the number of refusals of entry or residence, as well as expulsions of EU citizens, is steadily on the rise

It went on to say:

National authorities indicate that this is the result of concerted efforts to refuse entry or to expel EU citizens convicted of a criminal offence, as well as EU citizens who do not meet the conditions attached to extended residence rights under Article 7 of the Directive. This indicates the UK’s willingness to publicly demonstrate that it is addressing popular concerns such as criminality and immigration, including the immigration of EU citizens

It’s hard to disagree with this. There are times when, the way in which non-EEA family members visa applications are handled appear to support the Commission’s assertions that barriers are deliberately being placed.

For instance, it is not uncommon for non-EEA family members to be asked to produce excessive levels of documentation  so as to secure their permit and still experience delays of sometimes 12 weeks and beyond.

Similarly, it is difficult to assess the main reasons invoked by UKVI for refusing to grant non-EEA family members entry to the UK. Yet from past UKVI experience, research and information from clients looking for assistance after a refusal, the top 5 reasons for EEA family permits can be seen as follows…

Tops reasons for EEA family permit refusals

3. The applicant does not provide any (or adequate) evidence to support their claim to be the direct family member of an EEA national

Direct family members of EEA nationals are set out in Part 7 of the EEA Regulations as:

  • Spouses or civil partners
  • Direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner under 21
  • Dependent direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner 21 and over
  • Dependent direct relatives in the ascending line, for example parents and grandparents of the EEA national or their spouse / civil partner

The above members are viewed as the core of the EEA national’s family.

When assessing the application, it is important for documentary evidence is provided to UKVI to show the relationship between the non-EEA family member and the EEA national.

The type of documentary evidence needed will depend on the nature of the relationship. As a guide, such documents can include:

  • An original marriage certificate supported by a certified translation, if appropriate
  • An original civil partnership certificate supported by a certified translation, if appropriate
  • A divorce certificate or a death certificate where there the EEA national or non-EEA national was previously married
  • Original birth certificates naming the EEA national as one of the parents of the non-EEA child
  • Original birth certificates naming the EEA national as the child of the non-EEA parent

2. The EEA national is not a qualified person because there is no evidence of Treaty rights being exercised

The purpose of the EEA family permit is to join or travel with the EEA national to the UK. To clarify, the EEA national must either:

  • Be in the UK already
  • Plan on travelling with you to the UK within 6 months of the date of your application

If the EEA national has been in the UK for more than 3 months they must either:

  • Be a ‘qualified person’ who is exercising their ‘Treaty’ right by working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient); or
  • Have a permanent right of residence in the UK

Where UKVI is not satisfied of the above, you can expect to receive an EEA family permit refusal with the following wording:

You have failed to provide evidence that your EEA national family member is a qualified person in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. I am, therefore, not satisfied that your EEA national family member is residing in the UK in accordance with the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

To avoid this, it is important to evidence the EEA national’s permanent residence status, by way of an EEA permanent residence status, or show they are exercising their ‘Treaty rights’ by submitting original, stamped or certified documents appropriate to their circumstances – see our previous article for more details.

If the EEA national does not have a permanent residence status, some examples of recommended documents of exercising Treaty rights may include:

  • Employment – an employment contract, payslips or a letter from an employer
  • Self-employed – Service contracts, customer invoices or audited accounts with bank statements
  • Studying – A letter from the UK school, college or university
  • Financially self-sufficient – bank statements

EEA nationals that are financially self-sufficient or studying in the UK must have comprehensive medical insurance to be a ‘qualified person’ and it is recommended that evidence of insurance be submitted to UKVI.

1. The applicant is a party to a marriage of convenience

UKVI defines a marriage of convenience as an ‘abuse of the right to reside’. Unsurprisingly, where UKVI suspect that the marriage or civil partnership between the EEA national and non-EEA national was entered into to circumvent the UK immigration rules, the UKVI will issue a refusal with the following wording:

The definition of ‘spouse’ in the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 does not include a party to a marriage of convenience. I am satisfied that you are party to a marriage of convenience and are therefore not the family member of an EEA national in accordance with Regulation 7 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

One of my previous clients, a US national, was absolutely devastated to receive a letter from UKVI informing her that her recent marriage to a French national was a sham.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Mr Polyakov, a Russian national, married to his German wife, Anna who had sought an EEA family permit to visit his daughter and newly arrived grandson in the UK. Mr Polyakov was surprised to find that the genuineness of his marriage was doubted by UKVI because he had submitted his marriage certificate, but has not provided photographs of his wedding. Mr Polyakov and Mrs Polyakov have been married since 1975!

In the case of our client, she had followed the online guidance and submitted her original marriage certificate.  UKVI’s guidance makes it clear that a valid marriage certificate is sufficient to prove a family relationship. In fact, where UKVI suspects that the marriage is one of inconvenience, the burden of proof falls on UKVI to support their assertion by testing their suspicions.  This is supported by case law.

Yet despite this guidance, UKVI did not ask the client to provide additional information about the relationship. Nor had the client or her spouse been invited to an interview. Unfortunately, the client’s time frame for lodging an appeal had lapsed and so the decision to refuse the application for this reason could not be challenged.

She contacted Thomas Chase Immigration for the first time to assist her with a new application for an EEA family permit.  By now, she had been married for 6 months.

To help the client increase her chances of success in securing an EEA family permit, she was advised to gather as many documents that she had that related to her relationship with her spouse. The purpose of this exercise was to show UKVI that despite the couple’s marriage of 6 months, the couple had been in a genuine relationship for over 2 years.

The following documents were submitted:

  • Records of past communications between the couple such as Skype and WhatsApp messages
  • Travel tickets of holidays taken together
  • Photographs

We provided a covering letter, setting out the client’s circumstances, how she met the requirements, and touched on her previous refusal and how this application differed. We helped the client to make a strong application. Needless to say, the client’s application was approved.

Conclusion

EEA family permits can be refused for a number of reasons, many of which come as a total surprise to the applicant. By being aware of the pitfalls and preparing a strong application, the application process for an EEA family permit will likely go as smoothly as possible.

Have you or someone you know received a recent refusal? What were the reasons given and what advice would you give to others?

Share this blog with someone who might benefit from it.

This post was first published on 31 May 2017 and was updated on 1 March 2019.

________________________________________________________________________

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and HR professionals.

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Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation or to request assistance. You can also learn more about UK immigration from our blogs.

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Right to Rent Checks

Right to rent
Landlords form part of the Government’s plans for maintaining effective immigration controls.  As a result, landlords, or their agents, must carry out immigration checks to ensure that a tenant or lodger can legally rent the residential property in England. Here, we provide guidance to landlords on the right to rent checks to be carried out, and the follow-up checks required, in order to stay compliant with immigration laws.

Background

You’re a landlord in England with residential property for rent.  You find a suitable tenant, you meet them, verify their references, perform a background check, and once assured take a deposit. With move-in dates sorted and direct debits in place, you can sit back and relax.

Well not quite!

Now you have to meet the immigration obligations by carrying out right to rent checks.

Why? The Government is keen to frustrate individuals, who may not be entitled to reside in the United Kingdom (UK) from accessing services and rental property.

Of course, this all places a large onus on you, the landlord. If you are found renting your residential property to a tenant, who does not or no longer has a right to be in the UK, you could be issued with a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.

So how do you ensure that you stay on the right side of immigration laws?

Here’s how…

Tenants to be checked

The right to rent requirement, under section 32(6)(a) of the Immigration Act 2014, only apply to residential tenancies that started on or after 1st February 2016 in England. There is an earlier date of 1st December 2014 and after, for residential properties in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton.

As a landlord of a residential property, you must ensure that the tenant, or a lodger, can legally rent the property.

To do so, you must carry out checks on the tenant, or if there is more than one person occupying the property, checks must be made on each tenant aged 18 years of age and over.

For the purposes of the Home Office, tenants can include individuals who are not named on the tenancy agreement

In fact, as long as there are tenants at the residential property, right to rent checks need to be carried out regardless of whether:

  • There is no tenancy agreement in place; or
  • The tenancy agreement is no in writing.

How to carry out right to work checks

There are 3 key steps to conducting right to rent checks. They are:

Obtain

After you have confirmed how many adults intend to use your property, you must request their original documents to prove their right to reside in the UK

The Home Office accepts it can be difficult for non-immigration specialists to know which documents to collect and once, collected, what they mean. So the Home Office has split the documents into List A, Group 1 and Group 2, and List B.

List A, Group 1

Documents in List A, Group 1 documents clearly evidence that the individual has a permanent right to rent in England and the UK.

List A, Group 1, documents include:

  • A passport (current or expired) showing that the holder is a British citizen, or a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the ‘right of abode’ in the UK
  • A passport or national identity card (current or expired) showing that the holder is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. A registration certificate or document (current or expired) certifying or indicating permanent residence issued by the Home Office, to a national of the European Economic Area country or Switzerland
  • A ‘permanent’ residence, ‘indefinite leave to remain’, ‘indefinite leave to enter’ or ‘no time limit’ card issued by the Home Office (current or expired), to a non-EEA national who is a family member of an EEA or Swiss national
  • A biometric ‘residence permit’ card (current or expired) issued by the Home Office to the holder indicating that the person named has ‘indefinite’ leave in the UK, or has ‘no time limit’ on their stay in the UK
  • A passport or other ‘travel document’ (current or expired) endorsed to show that the holder is either ‘exempt from immigration control’, has ‘indefinite’ leave in the UK, has the ‘right of abode’ in the UK, or has ‘no time limit’ on their stay in the UK
  • A current immigration status document issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the holder is either ‘exempt from immigration control’, has ‘indefinite’ leave in the UK, has the ‘right of abode’ in the UK, or has ‘no time limit’ on their stay in the UK
  • A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

Group 2, List A

Where a tenant presents a document from Group 2, List A, you must ensure that you request another document from this list also.

Documents in Group 2, List A include:

  • A full birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland, which includes the name(s) of at least one of the holder’s parents or adoptive parents
  • A current full or provisional photo card UK driving licence
  • A letter from HM Prison Service, the Scottish Prison Service or the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirming the holder’s name, date of birth and that they have been released from custody of that service in the 6 months prior to the check
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check by a UK government department or Local Authority and signed by a named official (giving their name and professional address), confirming the holder’s name and that they have previously been known to the department or local authority
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check from an officer of the National Offender Management Service in England and Wales confirming that the holder is the subject of an order requiring supervision by that officer; from an officer of a local authority in Scotland confirming that the holder is the subject of a probation order requiring supervision by that officer; or, from an officer of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland confirming that the holder is the subject of an order requiring supervision by that officer
  • Evidence (identity card, document of confirmation issued by one of HM forces, confirmation letter issued by the Secretary of State) of the holder’s previous or current service in any of HM’s UK armed forces
  • A letter from a UK police force confirming that the holder is a victim of crime and has reported a passport or Home Office biometric immigration document stolen, stating the crime reference number, issued within the 3 months prior to the check
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check signed by a representative of a public authority, voluntary organisation or charity which operates a scheme to assist individuals to secure accommodation in the private rented sector in order to prevent or resolve homelessness
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check confirming the holder’s name signed by the person who employs the holder (giving their name and business address) confirming the holder’s status as employee and employee reference number or their National Insurance number
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check from a UK further or higher education institution confirming the holder’s acceptance on a current course of studies. This letter should include the name of the educational establishment, as well as the name and duration of the course
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check from a British passport holder who works in (or is retired from) an acceptable profession as specified in the list of acceptable professional persons. The letter should confirm the holder’s name, and confirm that the acceptable professional person has known the holder for longer than three months
  • Benefits paperwork issued by HMRC, a UK Local Authority or Job Centre Plus, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions or the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development, issued within the 3 months prior to the check
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate (criminal record check) issued within the 3 months prior to the check

List B

If a tenant presents a documents from List B, the document permits the individual a time-limited right to rent the residential property.

Such documents include:

  • A current passport or other ‘travel document’ endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK for a time-limited period

 

  • A current biometric ‘residence permit’ card issued by the Home Office to the holder, which indicates that the named person is permitted to stay in the UK for a time-limited period

 

  • A current ‘residence card’ (including an accession residence card or a derivative residence card) issued by the Home Office to a non-EEA national who is either a ‘family member’ of an EEA or Swiss national or has a ‘derivative’ right of residence
  • A current immigration status document issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the named person may stay in the UK for a time-limited period.

You can also use the Home Office online service Home Office online service to check whether a person is entitled to rent your property.

Check

Once you have obtained the document from the relevant list, you must check the tenant’s document in their presence.

Again, the Home Office is not expecting you to be an expert in immigration documents or inappropriately issued documents. Landlords are merely expected to make reasonable checks to see if the document is genuine and relates to the person in front of you.

So for instance, ask yourself:

  • Does the document look as if it has been obviously tampered with?
  • Does it contain spelling mistakes?
  • It the photograph, on the document, a true likeness of the tenant?

Copy

Copies of the tenant’s List A Group 1 document or List A Group 2 documents or List B document must be kept on file, with a brief record of the date that you checked the originals.

It is crucial to follow the above steps so as to ensure compliance with UK immigration laws. If the tenant is found to have no legal right to reside in the UK, you will have a statutory excuse against a civil penalty if you can evidence that you have obtained, checked and copied the appropriate documents.

Further information can found on the Home Office website.

Timing of checks

It is possible to obtain copies of the identity documents in advance. However, the right to rent checks must be carried out at the start of the tenancy.

There are instances where the right to rent checks must be made well in advance of the start of the tenancy. For instance, if the tenant has limited leave to stay in the UK, or their visa contains an expiry date, you will need to carry out checks 28 days prior to the start of the tenancy.

Follow-up checks

A landlord’s immigration obligation is a continuing one. For that reason, as a landlord, you must ask the adult tenants for proof of their continued right to rent the property.

Where the tenant provides a document from List B, you must obtain and make a copy of the document and follow the same steps again in 12 months’ time, or when the tenant’s leave is due to expire, or when the document evidencing the tenant’s limited leave is due to expire. Doing so, will provide you with a statutory excuse against a civil penalty, should the tenant be found to no longer have a right to reside in the UK.

However, if the tenant provides a document from List A and you have obtained and kept a copy of the document on file, no further checks will be necessary and you are deemed to have a continuing statutory excuse.

When are right to rent checks not required

As the landlord, you are not required to conduct right to rent checks for certain types of accommodation. They include:

  • Social housing;
  • Care homes, hospices or hospitals;
  • Hostels or refuges;
  • Mobile homes; and
  • Student accommodation.

Checks are also not needed if the tenants in accommodation is:

  • Provided by the local authority or Council
  • ‘Tied accommodation’, provided as part of their job
  • Leased to the tenant for a period of 7 years or longer

You will however, require evidence of the above.

The tenant has limited leave but no documents

It is not unusual for a tenant with limited leave to lack documents because they submitted to the Home Office as part of an application to extend their stay in the UK.

This does not mean that the individual is not entitled to rent the property. Instead, you should check their immigration status by completing a short Home Office online form.

Results are normally relayed within 48 hours.

Important

It cannot be stressed enough, that a, you are required to conduct right to rent checks on all new tenants. This is regardless of whether you believe the tenant to be a British citizen. You still need to gather documentary evidence for all tenants and cannot discriminate.

And another thing…

It was somewhat disconcerting to read according to a Residential Landlords Association (RLA) survey, as many as 20% of landlords admitted they were less likely to rent their residential properties to EU nationals.

Apparently, some landlords felt that the right to rent checks for EU nationals were too onerous. For many, renting their properties to British citizens was much easier.

It must be stressed that following, Brexit, the rights of EU nationals remain the same, at least for the time being. But more importantly, and as highlighted above, right to rent checks must be carried out on all adult tenants. Failure to do so could lead to allegations of discrimination and a breach of immigration laws.

The Home Office Code provides more information for landlords.

Conclusion

Right to rent checks are now part of a landlords continuing immigration obligations. To avoid a civil penalty, landlords must carry obtain documents, as appropriate, depending on the status of the tenant. By following the detailed steps above, landlords can protect themselves against a civil penalty and avoid falling foul of anti-discrimination laws.

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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Need straightforward immigration advice or guidance on the right to rent checks? Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about from our blogs

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Brexit Deal or No Deal

Brexit, Settled Status & EU Nationals

Thomas Chase Immigration - Brexit, Settled Status
The UK government has set out its negotiation position with the European Union (EU), on the future status of approximately 3 million EU nationals currently exercising Treaty rights in the UK. The published information provides an outline of the government’s position on a ‘new settled status’, but is very short on detail. Here, we review the latest government proposals and their possible impact for EU nationals and their families.

Settled Status
A new ‘special settled status’ was announced by Prime Minister, Theresa May on 26 June 2017, aimed at granting EU nationals “the right to live in Britain, to undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and to apply for British citizenship.”

The proposals will allow EU nationals to acquire or transfer their permanent status into a special settled status, thereby bringing them within the restrictive UK immigration laws that currently apply to nationals outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Let’s look at the proposals in more detail. As part of the UK government’s wish to ‘safeguard’ the rights of EU nationals in the UK, the government said it will:

  • Comply in full with its legal obligations, including in respect of administrative procedures for providing documentation for those exercising Treaty rights until such time as the UK leaves the UK;

 

  • Create new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens, resident here before the UK’s exit from the EU. Those rights will be enforceable in the UK legal system and will provide legal guarantees for those EU. In addition, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK;

 

  • These rights will apply to all EU citizens equally and the UK government will not treat citizens of one member state differently to those of another qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status. The administrative procedures which they will need to comply with in order to obtain these new rights will be modernised and kept as smooth and simple as possible;

 

  • Bring the application process under a separate legal scheme, in UK law, rather than the current one for certifying the exercise of rights under EU. The UK government intends to tailor the eligibility criteria so that, for example, it will no longer require evidence that economically inactive EU citizens have previously held ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’ in order to be considered continuously resident;

 

  • Provide all qualifying EU citizens adequate time to apply for their new residence status after the UK leaves the UK. There will be no ‘cliff-edge’ at the point of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU;

 

  • Guarantee that qualifying individuals will be granted settled status in UK law (indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the Immigration Act 1971). This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship;

 

  • Allow EU nationals to qualify for the new settled status as long as they were resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status. They must also still be resident in the UK at that point to qualify;

 

  • Allow EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date, but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit from the EU, to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK. Once those EU nationals have resided in the UK for 5 years, they will be eligible to apply for settled status;

 

  • Allow EU citizens who arrived after the specified date, to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period. They may become eligible to settle permanently, depending on their circumstances. However, this group should ‘have no expectation of guaranteed settled status’;

 

  • Allow family dependants, who join a qualifying EU citizen in the UK before the UK’s exit from the EU, to apply for settled status after 5 years. The 5 years’ period includes time accrued after Brexit. Those joining after the UK’s exit will be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens or alternatively to the post-exit immigration arrangements for EU citizens who arrive after the specified date;

 

  • Define the ‘specified date’ as no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The specified date will be agreed with the EU as part of delivering a reciprocal deal; and

 

  • Apply rules to exclude those who are serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK.

It cannot be stressed enough that the above proposals are just that, proposals. The proposals will form part of the UK’s negotiations with the EU and is likely to change or bend as time progresses. Regardless, as they stand, they will have a huge impact on EU nationals’ ability to work, study and unite with family members in the UK.

Summary

The new settled status will apply to EU nationals and their family members who are currently exercising Treaty rights in the UK, but have not yet acquired 5 years’ continuous residence, and will also be applicable to EU nationals that have already applied to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence status.

Applying for the new settled status will be done under a ‘fast- track process’.

Great. Some information has been provided. And yet, so much has been left unsaid.

  • What will the fast track process look like?
  • How does the government intend to fast-track the applications for the large number of EU nationals in the UK?
  • It is not clear if the application process for the new settled status will differ for EU nationals that have already gone through the onerous process of applying to certify their permanent residence status and supplied a great deal of documents, as compared to those that had not certified their permanent residence status at all.
  • How will settled status for EU nationals already in the UK, differ from the settled status for EU nationals arriving after the ‘specified date’?
  • Will EU nationals arriving after the cut-off date see a restricted definition of ‘family members’ as seen under the current UK immigration rules?
  • Will EU nationals that had certified their permanent residence status be expected to complete another form and submit masses of documents again?
  • What is the specified cut-off date?

Another key omission? Fees. How much will EU nationals be expected to pay to apply for the new settled status? For instance, national from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) can expect to pay £2,297 (fees as applied from 6 April 2017 and current as of today’s date). Compare that to an application to certify permanent residence, currently £65.

Will EU nationals be expected to pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds for settled status? We don’t yet know although the UK government proposes that fees will be reasonable.

And will the fast-track system be offered as standard or will a premium fee be attached? We also do not know.

What is clear is that some EU nationals are holding off making an application to certify permanent residence status and instead waiting for details of the new settled status. The merits of doing so will of course depend on each individual and their circumstances.

Settled status, students and the self-sufficient

At present, EU nationals in the UK as students or who are self-sufficient, are required to hold comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI). Without CSI, such EU nationals are deemed not to have exercised their Treaty rights in the UK.

The government has proposed that CSI will not be a requirement for EU nationals seeking the new settled status.

Permanent residence and British citizenship

What factors should EU nationals factor into their decision making?

Well, not all EU nationals are eager to apply for British citizenship or meet the requirements for British citizenship. In fact, some nationals are precluded from holding dual nationality by their home country.

For those keen to secure British citizenship, applying to certify permanent residence status, especially for those already exercising their Treaty rights in the UK for 5 years and over, can be beneficial. Why? Because it may be a ‘quicker’ route to naturalising as a British citizen.

When applying for British citizenship, EU nationals have been exercising Treaty rights for 5 years, at which point they will acquire permanent residence. Thereafter, they must apply to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence and hold such recognised status for a further 12 months.

Examples

For example, one of our client’s Eliana, owned and ran her own business in the UK for the past 8 years and successfully applied for British nationality. Eliana first applied to certify her permanent residence status on the basis that she could evidence exercising her Treaty rights as a self-employed person for the past 7 years. Not the easiest of exercises but Eliana only managed to obtain 7 years of the recommended documentary evidence.

We prepared the application and asked the Home Office to not only certify Eliana’s permanent residence status for the past 5 years, but for the past 7 years. This was duly done and allowed Eliana to immediately apply for British citizenship without waiting for a further 12 months.

Equally, another client had her permanent residence status recognised based on her UK activities over the past 5 years. After 12 months’ she may apply for British citizenship, well before the UK formally leaves the EU, assuming the cut-off date is when the UK officially leaves the EU.

This option may be far ‘quicker’ route to British citizenship as compared to applying for settled status, once it is rolled out, and holding that status for an additional 12 months. At the moment, there is nothing to say that the new settled status will be retrospective in law.

Family members

There are good reasons to wait and delay making an application British citizenship. One of which is related to family members. Under EU regulations, EU national exercising Treaty rights in the UK, are entitled to have their direct and indirect family members join them in the UK.  This includes non-EEA family members.

Once the EU national becomes a British citizen, family reunion becomes restricted, onerous and expensive.

An EU national sponsoring a non-EEA spouse to join the in the UK can be as (relatively) straightforward as submitting a EEA family permit application at zero cost.

Doing so as a British citizen means meeting the financial requirements and earning a salary of at least £18,600 per annum, and Home Office fees in the region of £1400 plus an Immigration Health Surcharge of approximately £600.

And applying for an elderly parent to a British citizen in the UK is extremely difficult, with extended family members such as cousins and uncles being almost impossible.

Conclusion

The government has laid out its proposals, for a new settled status, for EU nationals exercising Treaty rights in the UK and for those arriving after the UK formally leaves the EU. Nevertheless, the proposals are extremely light on details, making it difficult for EU nationals to assess the best way forward. That is, whether to apply to certify their permanent residence status, thereafter apply for British citizenship, or simply wait and see how the plans for new settled status materialise.

Much will depend on the circumstances of the individual EU national, and we have listed some of those considerations above. And of course, we must remember that the proposals, at least for now, are just that…published plans to be negotiated with the EU. As such, they are subject to change. So we will watch this space and keep you updated.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families looking for friendly, straightforward advice.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance on the rights of EU citizens or assistance with an application for a permanent residence document, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

 

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Overseas Visitors and UK Healthcare

We look at overseas visitors to the UK from the EEA and non EEA countries and and access to healthcare
It is holiday season and millions of travellers from all over the world are expected the visit the UK. Most visitors will have adequate medical insurance. Yet what happens if your travel insurance doesn’t go far enough or you don’t have travel insurance at all, but require healthcare. And what impact will rule changes have from October 2017. We answer those questions, and more, in this post on overseas visitors and healthcare.

In 2015, there were 36.1 million visitors to the UK from overseas visitors, 5.1% higher than in 2014. In 2016, the number of overseas visits to the UK reached record levels of 37.6 million. 

Access to healthcare treatment during a person’s travels depends on whether the visitor is travelling from within or outside of Europe.

EEA NATIONALS

For those visitors to the UK, from within the Economic European Area (EEA), it is recommended to apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC entitles EEA nationals to access necessary treatment at a reduced cost, or sometimes at no cost, in certain European countries with state provided healthcare, and is free.

Treatment for pre-existing medical conditions are covered. Yet, the EHIC has its limitations. For instance, it will not cover private medical healthcare costs such as the cost of being flown back to the European country of residence. And while routine maternity care is covered, it will not cover the cost of specifically travelling to the UK to give birth within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS)

For this reason, it is highly recommended that EEA nationals travelling to the UK on holiday hold both an EHIC card and valid and adequate travel insurance.

Only EEA nationals from the following countries are required to hold adequate medical and travel insurance and need not possess a EHIC:

  • The Channel Islands, including Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
  • The Isle of Man
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • The Vatican

If an EEA national visiting the UK finds themselves in need of medical treatment, they may dial 112, the free European emergency number, for immediate assistance.

The EU Directive route

The European Union (EU) Directive route entitles EEA visitors to purchase NHS or private healthcare in England and seek reimbursement for medically necessary treatment from their country of residence. The reimbursements are limited to the amount the treatment would normally cost in their home country. It does not cover emergency treatment and prior authorisation may be required

NON-EEA VISITORS

Visitors to England, more specifically, from outside of the EEA must have personal medical provisions or travel insurance to cover for the length of their visit.

If a visitor requires certain emergency treatment, the NHS will not turn the person away and some NHS services and treatments are free, making them exempt from charges.

These include:

  •  Accident and emergency services
  • Family planning services though it does not include infertility treatment
  • Treatment for most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic violence or sexual violence and yet charges will apply if the visitor enters England for the purpose of seeking that treatment

What happens if they then seek unplanned medical treatment from the NHS? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon visitors to book their travel and omit or forget to purchase travel insurance or even seek the minimum travel insurance cover available. In such cases, overseas visitors receive a medical bill for fees chargeable at 150% of the NHS standard rate. Ouch!

Different rules apply for overseas visitors requiring medical assistance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is also worth pointing out that some non-EEA visitors may be exempt from NHS charges. They include those traveling for longer than 6 months to work, to study or join family members, as they will have paid a separate Immigration Health Surcharge.

Changes to Healthcare rules from October 2017

As of 23 October 2017, non-EEA nationals must pay for non-urgent treatment and services, in advance. Visitors will be given an estimate of the treatment costs and will be expected to pay for this upfront, or treatment will not be provided.

From October 2017, failure to pay such charges will adversely impact upon any future immigration applications.

Reciprocal Agreements

Exemptions also apply to visitors from countries that have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK.

The reciprocal agreements entitle visitors, from specified countries, to access immediate emergency medical treatment free of charge. They are:

  • Anguilla
  • Australia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Kosovo
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • New Zealand
  • Serbia
  • St Helena
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

The nature and access to free treatment will differ for each country under their respective reciprocal agreements. http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/countryguide/NonEEAcountries/Pages/Non-EEAcountries.aspx

The agreements do not normally apply when the person has travelled to the UK for the purpose of obtaining healthcare.

There are non-EEA countries which previously held reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK. Those agreements came to an end on 2016. As a result, visitors from the following countries must ensure they have adequate travel and health insurance, as they will be charged for accessing healthcare and treatment on the NHS.

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Georgia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

On another note, from 21 August 2017, employers of overseas visitors working on UK-registered ships will be charged for NHS fees incurred.

Conclusion

With travel season well underway, it is important, whether you are from within the EEA or a non-EEA national, to know what emergency and non-urgent treatment and services you can access in the UK. Having adequate travel and medical insurance can provide a great deal of comfort, but if that, for whatever, reason is not the case, there may be other measures in place to help you get the treatment you need at reduced costs. By being informed, you can ensure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday, avoid a huge bill and at worse, for non-EEA nationals in particular, prevent adverse consequences in any future immigration applications.

Happy travels!

 

Key information

Call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk

Call NHS 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation. You can also call NHS 111 if you’re not sure which NHS service you need.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration provide an end-to-end immigration service to individuals and families to help make the process as smooth as possible

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an immigration matter, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

Brexit: Retained Rights of Residence

“Brexit: Retained Rights of Residence” is locked Brexit: Retained Rights of Residence
Brexit remains a hot topic for European nationals and with good reason. The UK government has announced a time frame of March 2017 for the start of formal negotiations to leave the European Union. Many European nationals are eager to know how, and to what extent, their current rights to work and reside in the UK will be protected. But what of non-EEA family members whose circumstances have change? Here we look at the Retained Rights of Residence provisions and the documents that need to be gathered and submitted to support an application to UK Visas and Immigration.

Background

The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, later replaced by the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016,  sets out the rights of nationals, of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and their family members to enter and reside in the UK.

In order to first enter the UK, the non-EEA family member of sponsoring EEA national must apply for an EEA family permit. The exception is where the non-EEA family member holds a qualifying EEA State residence card issued in Germany or Estonia or already holds a residence permit or permanent residence card.

Once in the UK, non-EEA family members can find themselves in a vulnerable position if their circumstances change and they do not yet have permanent residence. With Brexit looming, it has become crucial than ever for such individuals protect their status.

Retained Rights of Residence categories

Regulation 10 allows EEA nationals family members that are from outside the EEA retain their right of residence in the UK if:

  • The EEA national:
    • Is deceased – regulation 10(2)
    • Leaves the UK – regulation 10(3)
    • Parent of a child who retains the right of residence: regulation 10(4)
    • Divorces their spouse or dissolves their civil partnership – regulation 10(5)
  • The family member is the parent of a child who retains the right of residence – regulation 10(4)

Regulation 10 only applies on or after 30 April 2006 and cannot be applied if the circumstances happened before that date. For example, if a person married an EEA national and subsequently divorced them before 30 April 2006 they would not be entitled to retain the right to reside.

Below we look at what each of the categories mean and list some of the key documents that must be submitted to UK Visas and Immigration when applying for retained rights of residence.

Death of the EEA national sponsor: regulation 10(2)

If the sponsoring EEA national has died, their non-EEA national family members may retain a right of residence. To do so, the following circumstances must be in place:

  • The EEA national died on or after 30 April 2006 and was a qualified person or had a right of permanent residence when they died
  • the applicant was living in the UK for at least one year immediately before the EEA national’s death as:
    • a family member of the EEA national qualified person, or
    • an EEA national with a permanent right of residence.
  • The EEA national was a worker, self-employed person, or self-sufficient person; or
  • The non-EEA national family member is carrying out activities similar to that of a qualified person and is a worker, self-employed or a self-sufficient person.

Where the non-EEA family member is a student, they must demonstrate that they are self-sufficient to fall within the provisions of regulation 10(2).

Documents

The evidence that a non-EEA family member will need to submit with their application are:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid passport or EEA ID card of the EEA national to evidence their nationality
  • Evidence of their genuine relationship to the EEA national
  • The EEA national’s death certificate
  • Evidence that the EEA national was exercising free movement rights at the time of their death
  • Evidence of the non-EEA family member’s residence in the UK for at least one year immediately before the EEA national’s death
  • That they are a worker, self-employed person or self-sufficient person or the family member of such a person
  • Where applicable, evidence of the child being educated in the UK immediately prior to the EEA national ‘s death
  • Documents showing the child’s continuing education in the UK, for example a letter from the child’s school
  • The child’s or children’s identity documents and birth certificate

The above is not an exhaustive list and will need to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the individuals.

Leaves the UK – regulation 10(3)

A non-EEA national spouse or civil partner will lose their right of residence if the sponsoring EEA-national leaves the UK while they are still married or in a civil partnership. This is because they can no longer be viewed as a ‘qualified person’ exercising free movement or Treaty rights.

Where this happens, the non-EEA family member will need to demonstrate that they instead fall under fall one of the other provisions of regulation 10.

The exception is where the family member of a direct descendant of the EEA national.

Documents

Below is a guide to the documents that need to be gathered and submitted with the application.

  • A valid passport evidencing nationality.
  • Evidence of their relationship to the EEA national.
  • Proof that the EEA national has left the UK, if applicable. This can be in the form of a declaration
  • Evidence that the EEA national was exercising free movement rights prior to leaving the UK
  • Evidence of the child being educated in the UK immediately prior to the EEA national leaving the UK
  • Documents showing the child’s continuing education in the UK, for example a letter from the child’s school
  • The child’s or children’s identity documents and birth certificate.

The above is not an exhaustive list and will need to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the individuals.

Parent of a child who retains the right of residence: regulation 10(4)

A non-EEA family member who is the parent of a child or children of an EEA national may retain a right of residence until the child reaches the age of 21.

It is possible for the non-EEA family member to continue their residence beyond the child 21st birthday if the child has, for instance, a severe physical or mental disability and the non-EEA national’s assistance will allow that child to continue with their education in the UK.

Documents

The evidence that a non-EEA family member will need to submit with their application for retained rights are:

  • A valid passport
  • 2 colour passport sized photographs for each person
  • Birth certificate evidencing the relationship of the non-EEA and EEA national to the child or children
  • The child’s or children’s evidence of identity
  • Evidence of the non-EEA national’s relationship to the EEA national
  • Their relationship to the EEA national
  • Their custody of the child, if appropriate. For instance, a letter that has been officially sworn by a solicitor confirming that the parent has custody.

The above is not an exhaustive list and will need to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the individuals.

Divorces their spouse or dissolves their civil partnership – regulation 10(5)

Separation

Where there has been a separation, the non-EEA national will continue to be a family member with the right to reside in the UK, as long as the sponsoring EEA national continues to exercise free movement rights in the UK, or has acquired permanent residence.

Rights of residence continues until:

  • The divorce is finalised and a decree absolute is issued
  • The marriage is annulled or
  • The civil partnership is dissolved

Once the above papers have been issued, the non-EEA national’s right of residence will come to an end.

Divorce

Most of the queries I receive on retained rights of residence are from individuals whose marriage or civil partnership to the sponsoring EEA national has officially ended.

Where the relationship ends in divorce, the non-EEA spouse or civil partner will lose their right of residence if:

  • The EEA national leaves the UK while they are still married or in a civil partnership. This is because they can no longer be viewed as a ‘qualified person’), and
  • the non-EEA national does not qualify for a retained right of residence under any other part of regulation 10.

Conditions of Regulation 10(5)

To avoid this, the non-EEA spouse or civil partner, and anyone who was related to the EEA national sponsor by marriage or civil partnership, must meet the conditions of regulation 10(5) in order to retain a right of residence in the UK. Those conditions are that:

  • The non-EEA national has been married to, or in a civil partnership with, the EEA national for at least three years immediately before beginning proceedings for divorce, annulment or dissolution; and
  • Has lived in the UK with the EEA national sponsor for at least one year during the time of their marriage or civil partnership.

Documents

The evidence that a non-EEA family member will need to submit with their application for retained rights are:

  • A valid passport for the non-EEA national
  • For the sponsoring EEA national evidence of their nationality, which must be a valid passport or EEA ID card
  • 2 colour passport sized photographs
  • Evidence that the marriage or civil partnership lasting for at least three years immediately before the initiation of proceedings for divorce, annulment or dissolution
  • Evidence of the non-EEA family member and EEA national’s residence in the UK for at least one year during the marriage
  • Evidence of the termination of the non-EEA national’s relationship with the EEA national on or after 30 April 2006. This could be a:
    • Decree absolute
    • Decree of annulment
    • Certificate of dissolution
  • Proof that the EEA family member had permanent residence or had been a ‘qualified person’ (i.e. a worker, student, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or someone looking for work) in the UK

The above is not an exhaustive list and will need to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the individuals.

Other factors

It is important to satisfy the conditions under regulation 10 otherwise the application for retained rights of residence may not only be refused, but their registration certificate or residence card may also be revoked.

Under the Free Movement of Persons Directive 2004/38/EC family members who have a retained right of residence do so ‘exclusively on a personal basis’. In practice, this means that the non-EEA family member cannot be the sponsor for another family member.

In their published guidance, UKVI states the following by way of an example:

‘…if a non-EEA national with a retained right of residence gets married to another non-EEA national, her new husband will not have any rights under the regulations. Her new husband would only be able to enter or remain in the UK if he qualifies under the Immigration Rules’.

It is possible for non-EEA national family members of British citizens (Surinder Singh cases) to continue to remain in the UK. However, this is beyond the scope of this article and will be covered in a separate article.

Conclusion

Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals may continue to reside in the UK under certain circumstances. The circumstances are limited and do require a significant amount of documentation to be submitted along with the application for retained rights of residence.