Immigration Specialists London

UK Residence Card: This guide offers an in-depth look at the various types of residence documentation for EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members, both pre- and post-Brexit. Covering everything from the UK Residence Card for non-EEA family members to EEA Registration Certificates and Permanent Resident Cards (PRC), the guide provides a statistical overview and detailed analysis of these documents. It also includes essential guidance on the changes brought by Brexit and the introduction of the EU Settlement Scheme, along with the process of obtaining a Certificate of Application (COA) for UK Residence Cards.


UK Residence Card Requirements Pre-Brexit

1. Overview


Prior to Brexit, the EEA Regulations provided a framework for EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members to establish their residence rights in the UK. This framework included four main types of documents, each serving to confirm the holder’s residence status.

Detailed Explanation of Each Document Type

  • UK Residence Card:
    • A document issued to non-EEA family members of EEA nationals residing in the UK, serving as proof of the holder’s right to live and work in the country.
  • EEA Registration Certificate:
    • Provided to EEA nationals living in the UK, this certificate confirms their right of residence under EEA regulations.
  • Permanent Resident Card (PRC):
    • Issued to non-EEA family members who have achieved five continuous years of residence in the UK, confirming their permanent residence status.
  • Documents Certifying Permanent Residence:

Overview of Documents under the EEA Regulations (Pre-Brexit)

Key Insights on Pre-Brexit EEA Documentation

These documents were essential for establishing and proving the residence rights of EEA nationals and their family members in the UK. Each document catered to different circumstances, reflecting the individual’s status and duration of residence in the UK. With the advent of Brexit, the relevance and issuance of these documents have evolved, marking a significant shift in the UK’s immigration and residency policies for EEA nationals and their families.

2. Residence Cards


The UK Residence Card was a pivotal document for non-EEA family members of EEA nationals, facilitating their right to live and work in the UK under EU law. This section breaks down the eligibility criteria, application process, processing time, and details on the validity and renewal of the card.

Eligibility, Application, and Validity Details

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Non-EEA national family members (spouses, civil partners, children, dependents) of EEA nationals exercising treaty rights in the UK were eligible.
    • Proof of relationship and the EEA national’s status as a worker, student, or self-sufficient person was required.
  • Application Process:
    • Applicants needed to complete a form, provide relationship evidence, EEA national’s identity and status proof, pay an application fee, enroll biometric data, and submit the application.
  • Processing Time:
  • Validity and Renewal:
    • The card was valid for five years.
    • Post this period, holders could apply for a Permanent Residence Card or under the EU Settlement Scheme, contingent on continuous UK residence and meeting specific criteria.

UK Residence Card for Non-EEA Family Members (Pre-Brexit)

Key Insights on the UK Residence Card

The UK Residence Card represented an essential mechanism for non-EEA family members to seamlessly integrate into the UK, affirming their residency rights. It underscored the UK’s commitment to supporting EEA nationals and their families under EU free movement rights prior to Brexit. With its five-year validity, it provided a pathway towards permanent residence or settlement under the EU Settlement Scheme, marking a critical step in the journey of non-EEA family members in the UK.

3. EEA Certificates


The EEA Registration Certificate was an official document for EEA nationals in the UK, verifying their right under EU law to reside and work in the country. It acted as proof of the individual’s status as a qualified person actively exercising treaty rights. Here, we detail the purpose of this certificate, eligibility requirements, and the application process.

EEA Registration Certificates: Purpose and Application Details

  • Purpose:
    • The certificate served as confirmation of an EEA national’s right to live and work in the UK.
    • It supported further immigration applications, such as obtaining residence cards for non-EEA family members.
  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • EEA nationals needed to be exercising treaty rights in the UK through work, self-employment, study, or self-sufficiency to qualify for the certificate.
  • Application Procedure:
    • Applicants were required to fill out a form.
    • Submit necessary documents proving EEA nationality and treaty rights exercise (e.g., employment).
    • Pay a processing fee.
    • Await the Home Office’s decision. The certificate typically had no expiry but could require updates due to personal circumstance changes.
  • Processing Time:
    • The processing time for the certificate was generally around six months.

Overview of the EEA Registration Certificate (Pre-Brexit)

Key Insights on the EEA Registration Certificate

This certificate played a crucial role for EEA nationals in the UK before Brexit, evidencing their legal status and facilitating their integration into the UK’s social and economic fabric. It underscored the UK’s commitment to upholding EU free movement rights, providing a straightforward pathway for EEA nationals to substantiate their residency rights.

With Brexit’s enactment, the issuance of the EEA Registration Certificate ceased, transitioning EEA nationals to apply through the EU Settlement Scheme for immigration status confirmation. This change marks a significant shift in how EEA nationals’ rights are managed and validated in the UK, aligning with the new post-Brexit immigration framework.

4. Statistics 2004-2017


Between 2004 and 2017, the landscape of applications for UK Residence Cards and EEA Registration Certificates saw significant activity, marked by a mix of approvals, refusals, and invalid submissions. This statistical snapshot provides insights into the trends and outcomes for applicants during this period.

Applications, Issuances, and Refusals

Statistical Data:

  • Total Applications:
    • 994,383 applications were submitted for both UK Residence Cards and EEA Registration Certificates by EEA and non-EEA nationals.
  • Issued Documents:
    • Out of these, 740,881 documents were issued, encapsulating both EEA Registration Certificates and UK Residence Cards.
  • Refusals:
    • There were 169,103 refusals during this period, indicating the challenges faced by some applicants.
  • Invalid Applications:
    • Additionally, 84,399 applications were deemed invalid, accounting for 8.40% of total submissions.
  • Overall Success Rate:
    • The overall success rate, as a percentage of total applications, stood at 74.50%, showcasing a majority of favorable outcomes.
  • Overall Refusal Rate:
    • The refusal rate of total applications was 17.01%, with the rate slightly increasing to 18.58% when considering only valid applications (909,984).

Statistical Overview: UK Residence Card and EEA Registration Certificates (2004-2017)

Insights and Preparation Strategies

This overview underlines the importance of thorough preparation and understanding of the application process for UK Residence Cards and EEA Registration Certificates. Despite a substantial success rate, the significant number of refusals and invalid applications highlights the potential pitfalls in the application journey.

For prospective applicants, these statistics emphasize the need for meticulous attention to application criteria, ensuring all documentation is correct and complete to avoid the common pitfalls leading to invalid applications or refusals. Understanding these trends can aid applicants in navigating the process more effectively, potentially increasing their chances of a successful outcome and establishing a stable foundation in the UK.

5. Permanent Resident Card (PRC)


The Permanent Resident Card (PRC) and Documents Certifying Permanent Residence are crucial for non-EEA nationals and EEA nationals, respectively, aiming to confirm their permanent residency status in the UK after living continuously for five years. These documents signify the holder’s right to live, work, and access public services in the UK indefinitely.

Eligibility and Application Insights

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Both EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members need to have resided in the UK for five continuous years.
    • They must have been exercising treaty rights such as working, being self-employed, self-sufficient, or studying, with some needing comprehensive sickness insurance.
    • Absences from the UK should not exceed six months in any 12-month period.
  • Application Process:
    • Complete the specific application form.
    • Submit the required supporting documents (proof of residence, employment records, etc.).
    • Pay the application fee.
    • Provide biometric information if necessary.
  • Processing Time:
    • The processing time for these applications is typically six months.
  • Validity and Renewal:
    • While these documents do not expire, changes in personal circumstances or post-Brexit status adjustments may necessitate updates or applying for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Permanent Resident Card (PRC) and Documents Certifying Permanent Residence Overview

  • Benefits:
    • Unrestricted access to live and work in the UK.
    • Easier access to public services.
    • Potential pathway to British citizenship.
    • Provides security and stability for individuals and their families.
    • Simplifies the process of sponsoring family members for UK residence.
  • Post-Brexit Changes:
    • Following Brexit, EEA nationals and their family members can no longer apply for these documents.
    • Instead, they need to seek status under the EU Settlement Scheme to maintain legal residency in the UK.
    • This shift underscores the need for affected individuals to stay informed about the evolving UK immigration policies and ensure compliance with the new requirements.

Securing a Permanent Resident Card or Document Certifying Permanent Residence was a pivotal step for non-EEA and EEA nationals towards cementing their permanent residency status in the UK, pre-Brexit. With the transition to the EU Settlement Scheme, understanding the new processes and criteria is essential for maintaining lawful residency and continuing to enjoy the rights and benefits associated with living in the UK.

PRC & EEA Permanent Residence: 2004-2017 Stats

This analysis delves into the refusal rates for Permanent Resident Cards (PRC) and EEA Documents Certifying Permanent Residence from 2004 to 2017, providing insights into the outcomes of applications submitted by EEA and non-EEA family members during this timeframe.

Overview of Application Outcomes

  • Total Applications:
    • 542,669 applications were submitted for PRC and EEA Documents Certifying Permanent Residence.
  • Issued Documents:
    • Out of these, 401,519 documents were successfully issued.
  • Refusals:
    • There were 89,678 refusals, indicating the challenges faced by some applicants.
  • Invalid Applications:
    • 51,472 applications were deemed invalid, accounting for 9.48% of the total applications.
  • Overall Success Rate:
    • The success rate, as a percentage of total applications, stood at 73.98%, showcasing a majority of favorable outcomes.
  • Overall Refusal Rate:
    • The refusal rate for total applications was 16.53%, with the rate increasing to 18.26% when considering only valid applications (491,197), highlighting a critical perspective on the hurdles faced in obtaining permanent residence status.

Statistical Analysis: PRC and EEA Documents Certifying Permanent Residence (2004-2017)

Key Insights and Implications

This statistical overview underscores the competitive nature of securing a PRC or EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence, with a significant portion of applications facing refusal or being marked invalid. The data reveals a substantial success rate, yet also points to the meticulous attention required in preparing and submitting applications to minimize the risk of refusal or invalidation.

  • Success Rate:
    • The overall success rate of 73.98% indicates that a majority of applicants successfully obtained their PRC or EEA documents. This is a positive outcome for those who met the criteria and submitted complete applications.
  • Refusal Rate:
    • The 16.53% refusal rate, increasing to 18.26% when only considering valid applications, highlights the challenges applicants face. This emphasizes the importance of submitting a well-prepared and thorough application.
  • Invalid Applications:
    • The 9.48% rate of invalid applications underscores the need for applicants to ensure all required documentation and criteria are met to avoid their applications being marked invalid.

Understanding the statistical landscape of PRC and EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence applications offers valuable insights for applicants aiming to establish their permanent residence status in the UK. While the overall success rate is encouraging, the data also highlights the challenges inherent in the application process. Applicants are advised to approach their application with careful planning and consideration of the detailed requirements to enhance their chances of success and secure their residency rights in the UK.

6. Post Brexit Changes


The implementation of Brexit marked a significant change in the residency rights of EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members in the UK. The transition period until June 30, 2021, allowed those residing in the UK before December 31, 2020, to adjust and apply for new residence statuses under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) introduced on March 29, 2019.

Key Changes and Application Guidance

  • Post-Brexit Changes:
    • UK residence cards, EEA registration certificates, and PR cards became invalid after December 31, 2020.
    • The EU Settlement Scheme was introduced to facilitate continued residence for EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members.
  • EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS):
    • EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members can apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS.
    • Non-EEA family members outside the UK can apply for an EUSS family permit without proof of entitlement or directly under the EUSS with proof of entitlement.
  • EEA Nationals’ Rights:
    • EEA nationals, including Swiss nationals, enjoyed freedom of movement rights in the UK under EEA Regulations, allowing them to live, work, and study freely.
  • Valid and Invalid Applications:
    • Valid applications required the specified form, relevant fee, and documentation.
    • Applications could be declared invalid if incomplete, unpaid, or if the applicant faced a removal or exclusion order.
  • Document Translations:
    • Certified translations were not required for EEA applications from February 16, 2019.
    • Multilingual standard forms (MSFs) could be used alongside original documents.
  • Passport Retention:
    • The European Passport Return Service was discontinued on April 9, 2019, affecting passport retention during application processing.
  • Benefits of Permanent Residence Documentation:
    • Although not legally required, documents certifying permanent residence confirmed rights, facilitated re-entry, and access to work and services.
    • To apply for naturalization or sponsor a spouse/civil partner under immigration rules, EEA nationals needed this documentation.

Guidance Notes on Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme

Navigating Post-Brexit Residency Rights

The shift to the EU Settlement Scheme represents a crucial adjustment for EEA nationals and their families in the UK, transitioning from the previous EEA Regulations to a new framework ensuring their continued legal residency and access to rights in the UK. Understanding these changes, eligibility criteria, and the application process for the EUSS or family permits is essential for maintaining lawful status and navigating the post-Brexit UK immigration landscape effectively.

7. Certificate of Application (COA)


The Certificate of Application (COA) plays a crucial role in the application process for UK residence and derivative residence cards under the EEA Regulations 2016. It signifies the Home Office’s acknowledgment of an application, with distinct types indicating different rights for the applicants during the processing period.

Application Certificate for UK Residence Cards

  • Types of COA:
    • Short COA: Acknowledges application receipt without confirming the right to work.
    • Long COA: Acknowledges receipt and confirms the applicant’s right to work in the UK while awaiting the application outcome.
  • Biometrics Enrolment:
    • Non-EEA nationals must enroll for biometrics when applying for a UK residence card.
    • A COA is typically issued within 2-3 working days post biometrics enrolment.
  • UK COA Timelines:
    • A COA is issued immediately after receiving a valid residence card application and as soon as possible for derivative residence cards.
  • Applicant Categories:
    • Direct family members: Eligible for a long COA with required evidence.
    • Persons with retained rights: May receive a long COA with evidence.
    • Extended family members (EFM): Generally receive a short COA.
    • Derivative rights applications: Eligible for a long COA with necessary evidence.
    • Exceptions: The Home Office might issue a long COA under certain conditions despite incomplete information.

Key Insights on COA for UK Residence Cards

The COA is an essential document for applicants under the EEA Regulations, providing clarity on their rights during the application process for UK residence cards. Whether an applicant receives a short or long COA depends on their specific category and the completeness of their application. This distinction is vital as it directly impacts the applicant’s ability to work in the UK during the processing period.

For applicants, understanding the nuances of COA types, the importance of biometrics enrolment, and the specific criteria for different categories is crucial for a smooth application process. Being well-informed about these aspects can significantly enhance applicants’ experience and expectations while awaiting the outcome of their residence card applications.

8. FAQs


UK Residence Card, PRC, EEA Registration Certificates

  1. What was the UK Residence Card used for before Brexit?

    The UK Residence Card was issued to non-EEA family members of EEA nationals, allowing them to live and work in the UK under EU law. It served as proof of the holder’s residency rights in the UK.

  2. How has Brexit affected the validity of UK Residence Cards and EEA Registration Certificates?

    Post-Brexit, UK Residence Cards and EEA Registration Certificates became invalid. EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members now need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to secure their residency rights in the UK.

  3. What is the difference between a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) and Documents Certifying Permanent Residence?

    A Permanent Resident Card (PRC) was issued to non-EEA family members who lived in the UK for five continuous years, while Documents Certifying Permanent Residence were issued to EEA nationals meeting the same residency requirement. Both confirmed permanent residence status in the UK.

  4. Can I still apply for a Certificate of Application (COA) for my UK Residence Card application?

    As of December 31, 2020, the application process for UK Residence Cards under the EEA Regulations has ended due to Brexit. Individuals seeking to prove their right to live in the UK must now apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, making COAs for these applications obsolete.

  5. What are the main types of COA issued before Brexit?

    There were two main types of COA: Short COA, which confirmed the receipt of an application without granting the right to work, and Long COA, which additionally confirmed the applicant’s right to work in the UK while their application was pending.

  6. How do I secure my right to live in the UK post-Brexit as an EEA national or a non-EEA family member?

    EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to secure settled or pre-settled status, allowing them to continue living, working, and accessing public services in the UK.

  7. Are there any fees associated with applying to the EU Settlement Scheme?

    No, there are no application fees for the EU Settlement Scheme.


This FAQ section aims to provide clear and concise answers for individuals navigating the changes to UK residency rights and application processes following Brexit, specifically concerning the UK Residence Card and related documentation for EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members. For further detail, please refer Gov.UK Settled and pre-settled status for EU citizens and their families.