Under European law, there is no requirement for European nationals exercising a Treaty Right in another Member State to obtain any paperwork to confirm their right to reside in that state and so many European nationals have lived in the UK for many years, without ever thinking about such documentation.

Understandably, for these people who have made the UK their home, they want some reassurance that they will not be made to leave the UK when the UK leaves the EU. The advice that Immigration Lawyers and practitioners have been giving to all European nationals since the vote to leave the EU is that they should obtain whatever documentation they are entitled to, whether that is a document certifying permanent residence or a simple residence card, if they have not yet acquired PR.

Given the influx of these applications since June 2016 – there were 37,618 applications in progress in June 2015, compared with almost 100,000 in July 2016 - the Home Office are struggling to adhere to their 6 months target for processing European applications. In an effort to take some strain away from the system, they first of all introduced a European Passport Returns Service. This entails applicants arranging an appointment at a participating local council, taking their completed application and supporting documents and submitting them there. A copy of their passport and/or ID card will be taken and the original returned to them. This means that the applicant will be free to travel whilst their application is being processed. If not using this service, then the original passport or ID card must be submitted which means that applicants may be unable to travel for many months.

Not ideal. However, this does not seem to have worked as well as the Home Office would have liked and the system remains strained.

Their latest bid to ease the pressure, is to suggest that European nationals do not apply for residence documentation. What is their suggested alternative? Sign up for email alerts.

Yes that’s correct. They say that email updates will ‘let you know about developments that might affect you, including the steps that you may need to take to confirm your status in the UK after we leave the EU.’ Given the government’s less than welcoming and helpful attitude towards immigration and migrants, it remains a mystery why anyone whose status in this country may end up in danger would feel comfortable relying on email updates from that very same government as a way to safeguard their position in this country.

Despite the waiting times, the best course of action for EU nationals remains to apply for whatever documentation they are eligible for. At the moment, the application fee to the Home Office is only £65. It is not unrealistic to think that this will rise significantly in future. What is essential is that applications are prepared properly and accompanied by the correct supporting evidence in order to maximise the chances of an application succeeding at the first attempt. This is particularly important for applications for documents certifying permanent residence. It is now a requirement that a European national seeking to naturalise as a British national first obtains a PR card. PR must have been held for at least one year before British citizenship is applied for, however it is possible to have the PR backdated. This is why we would strongly recommend that anyone seeking to make an application for a PR card enlists the services of an Immigration specialist so that they maximise their prospects for success and potentially minimise the time that they have to wait before naturalisation as a British national.

At Five Star (International) Ltd, we deal with a great number of European applications on a regular basis. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your situation and determine the best course of action for you to take in order to secure you and your family’s position in the UK post Brexit.

Contact us on info@fivestarinternational.co.uk or call us on 0141 339 7373 and we will arrange for you to meet with one of our in house solicitors at our office in Glasgow.

Pavan Sumal.

In House Solicitor and Notary Public.