There are many reasons a person might want a UK Residence Permit, rather than one of the other types of UK visas – and if you think that such a permit is suitable for your circumstances, then it’s likely that your first port of call when researching this will be the online.
However, a word of warning… Whilst the Internet is a wonderful place to gather information, there’s also a lot of out of date advice there, as well as mis-advice.
Bearing that in mind, it’s essential to only take advice from the official UK Government website to ensure you understand what’s necessary right now. Things change regularly, and it’s only by ensuring you have the latest information that you won’t end up disappointed further down the line.
Of course, if you’re a citizen of an EEA (European Economic Area) country, you have the right to live and work in any member state. These countries are (as of October 2015):
- Republic of Cyprus
- Czech Republic
Switzerland is also included in this list, although it is not an EEA member state.
However, for those who live in other countries of the world, it’s necessary to get a permit or visa to visit and/or stay in the UK.
What is a Residence Card?
This is a permit that allows you to live in the UK for a period of more than 6 months. The permit lasts for 5 years. After this, you may apply for a Permanent Residence Card.
What does it Cost?
It costs £65 for each person included in any application.
Who is Eligible?
To apply, you need to be both from a country outside of the EEA, and need to have a family member (or extended family member) who is a permanent UK resident or a qualified person.
The latter also has certain conditions that may apply.
What Counts as a Family Member or Extended Family Member?
A family member is defined as:
- A spouse or civil partner
- Their (spouse or civil partner’s) child or grandchild who is under 21 (or a dependent)
- Their (spouse or civil partner’s) dependent parent or grandparent
If the EEA national is a student, you can only qualify as their family member if you’re:
- Their spouse or civil partner
- Their (spouse or civil partner’s) dependent child
An extended family member is defined as:
- The unmarried partner of the EEA national, and you’re in a lasting relationship with them similar to a marriage or civil partnership
- A relative of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) but you don’t qualify as their family member. Such relatives include: brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and cousins.
They can also include grandchildren, parents, and grandparents if the EEA national only has the right to reside as a student.
In addition, one of the following must be true:
- Before coming to the UK, you were dependent on the EEA national, or were a member of their household, and you’re still dependent on them or are a member of their household.
- You need the personal care of the EEA national (or their spouse or civil partner) on serious health grounds.
There are some other, less common cases in which a person might have the right to apply for a Residence Card. These are known as Rights of Residence and Surinder Singh cases.
Further details on these and Family/Extended Family members can be found on the official UK Government website.
How to Apply
To make your application, it’s necessary to provide certain documents and information. This includes:
- Your passport
- 2 passport sized colour photos
- One passport sized colour photo of your EEA national or British citizen sponsor
- Your EEA family member’s valid passport or national identity card
- Evidence of your relationship to your EEA family member
You will also need to provide proof that you quality to apply, as detailed above in the “Who is Eligible?” section.
In addition to this, it’s necessary to provide biometric information as part of your application. This can be done at various Post Office branches around the country at a cost of £19.20 (as of October 2015) per person.
It involves having a digital photo taken of your face, putting your fingers on a glass screen for your fingerprints to be scanned, and giving your signature.
The applications forms for a UK Residence Card can be downloaded from the official UK Government website.
What is a Permanent Residence Card?
After you’ve lived in the UK on a Residence Card for 5 years, you can apply to live in the UK permanently. This is known as a Permanent Residence Card.
There is another cost of £65 per person for this card.
Can I apply for my Residence Card/Permanent Residence Card myself, or should I use an agent?
This is a matter that only the individual can decide. It is not necessary to use an agent or solicitor to gain your resident’s permit for the UK.
However, if you’d like to take advantage of such a service due to time restraints or other reasons, you should take care to assure you only use a reputable company.
There are many ways you can do this. Word of mouth is always the best recommendation: if you know someone who’s successfully used such a service then that is a good way forward.
But what if you don’t have any personal connection to such a company?
Well, then it’s necessary to do your homework. A reputable company will be able to personally answer all your questions in a polite and professional manner.
They should be up to date on all the current visa and permit requirements, and should be happy to answer all your questions before you decide to use their service.
In addition, the company should provide a “no satisfaction – no fee” guarantee. In essence, this means that if they fail to provide you with the agreed Residence Card or visa, then you pay them nothing.