If you are an EU national you do not need permission to enter the UK and you can apply for permanent residence after 5 years.
As long as the UK remains in the European Union, EU nationals and nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (EEA nationals), as well as citizens of Switzerland, do not need permission to enter the United Kingdom or any other EU country and may live and work there with no restrictions for the first 3 months.
Additionally, you have the right to reside in the UK indefinitely if
- you are a student
- you are able to support yourself financially (self- sufficient)
- you have entered self-employment or are setting up a business (self-employed)
Thus if you are exercising EC Treaty rights as a student, a self-employed or self- sufficient person, you can live in the UK on an unrestricted basis.
Permanent Residence for EEA Nationals
After 5 years of continuous residence in the UK in accordance with the regulations, EEA nationals acquire the right to permanent residence.
For your residence in the UK to be considered continuous, you should not be absent from the UK for more than 6 months each year.
Longer absences for compulsory military service will not affect your residence.
Additionally, a single absence of up to 12 months for important reasons such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or posting overseas will not affect your residence.
You are eligible for permanent residence in the United Kingdom according to the EU law:
- if you have resided lawfully in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years;
- if you are a non-EEA national family member who have resided lawfully in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years;
- if you are a worker or self-employed person who has stopped working, and
- you reached the age at which you are entitled to a state pension; or you took early retirement (worker); and
- you worked in the United Kingdom for at least 12 months prior to the termination; and
- you resided in the United Kingdom continuously for more than 3 years prior to the termination.
- if you are a worker or self-employed person who has stopped working as a result of a permanent incapacity to work; and you either:
- resided in the United Kingdom continuously for more than 2 years prior to the termination; or
- the incapacity is the result of an accident at work or an occupational disease that entitles you to a pension payable in full or in part by an institution in the United Kingdom.
- if you are a worker or self-employed person in an EEA State, but retain your place of residence in the United Kingdom, to which you:
- return as a rule at least once a week; and
- prior to becoming so active in that EEA State, you had been continuously resident and continuously active as a worker or self- employed person in the United Kingdom for at least 3 years.
- if you are the family member of a worker or self-employed person who has ceased activity;
- if you were the family member of a worker or self-employed person, where:
- that person has died;
- you lived with him/her immediately before his/her death; and that person had resided continuously in the UK for at least the 2 years immediately before his/her death or the death was the result of an accident at work or occupational disease
Permanent Residence Cards
You don’t need a permanent residence card to confirm your residence status in the UK but you should apply for a permanent residence document if:
- you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and
- you’re an extended family member of someone from the European Economic Area or Switzerland and are yourself not an EEA or Swiss national
- you want to apply for British citizenship
- you want to sponsor your partner’s visa application under the Immigration Rules Your permanent residence document won’t be valid after the UK leaves the EU.
See more under Family members of EEA nationals.