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I'm a EU citizen living in the UK since 2001. In 2014 I obtained the permanent residency certificate for EU/EEA citizens, using application form EEA(PR). This form asks to prove whether the applicant fulfils residence requirements in terms of presence in the UK. Specifically, it asks to list all travel in the five years prior to the application and sets a limit to the number of days spent outside the UK. Specifically, these are: "To satisfy the residence requirement you should not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months. And the total number of days absence for the whole 5 year period should not exceed 450."

I fulfilled these requirements and obtained a permanent residency permit. I believe that once permanent residency is acquired, one is able to travel in and out of the UK without restriction, provided the absence period does not exceed 2 years, in which case the permanent residency status is lost.

From July 2014 to September 2015 I have attended a graduate course at a EU university. During this time, I have come back to the UK only sporadically. I have been back in the UK since September 2015 but I have since travelled extensively within the EU.

I would now like to apply for British citizenship. Section 2 of the AN form asks the same information that I needed to provide for the permanent residency application. It also asks, for EU/EEA citizens, to provide the details of the permanent residency permit.

My questions are:

  1. As a permanent resident, do I need to provide this evidence, even though the permanent residency status allows me to travel in and out of the UK without restrictions?
  2. As I studied abroad and I have also travelled extensively, I may not meet the residence requirements set out above. However I do have a permanent residency status. How is this apparent conflict resolved?

I have searched extensively, but I haven't been able to find any clarity regarding the above, expecially point 2.

Additional comments

Thanks for the great answers below and in the comments.

I can see how, formally, there may not be a conflict between the PR and the citizenship's residence requirements, but I still cannot get my head around the following:

  1. PR and citizenship are not handled by different government departments. Both applications go to the Home Office. It's the Home Office that decides in both cases.
  2. The residence requirements are the same for PR and citizenship
  3. I have fulfilled the PR requirements and I have had a PR certificate since 2014 confirming that. Given that i'm one person, how could I both be permanent resident and not permanent resident at the same time?
  4. The PR application and citizenship application for EEA/EU citizens have now been directly and explicitly linked by the Home Office by asking for the PR certificate to be obtained before an application for citizenship can be made. The number of the certificate is asked for in the citizenship application form. What is the purpose of that if the same requirements need to be proven again?

Perhaps i'm just not getting some finer points of the law, but this still seems like an inconsistency to me. I suspect it may just be one of those bureaucratic inconsistencies that just have to be accepted.

  • Regarding point 2, here's the response to the same asked just last month; summarized, no, it does not adversely affect you. – Giorgio Oct 20 '16 at 15:46
  • Thank you, this is helpful. However I would be interested in some evidence exactly in the context of applying for uk citizenship. – Stefano Oct 21 '16 at 6:25
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    "As a permanent resident, do I need to provide this evidence, even though the permanent residency status allows me to travel in and out of the UK without restrictions?": all people applying for naturalization will have a status allowing them to travel out of the UK without restrictions, be it permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain. But "without restrictions" doesn't mean "without consequences." If you spend too much time abroad, you risk postponing the time at which you can become a citizen. – phoog Oct 21 '16 at 12:50
  • @ouflak wouldn't it be better to edit these things into your answer? – phoog Oct 22 '16 at 21:36
  • Stefano, consider this: you become a permanent resident, then every year you take a 100-day vacation outside the UK. Your absence is not so much that it causes you to lose your permanent residence status, but it is enough to disqualify you from naturalizing. This situation could continue indefinitely. – phoog Oct 22 '16 at 21:38
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There isn't really a conflict here although that may not be obvioius. Citizenship is not a visa and is handled by a different government department. Hence their considerations are decididly neutral. The basic requirements for presence in the UK during the qualifying period(s) apply to everybody equally regardless of how they may have gotten to the stage where they might qualify for citizenship. So while your residency is safely established, you may not qualify for citizenship.

In your particular case, that is a pretty large absence. However, if you can demonstrate regular residence over the previous 7 years overall (look at section 5), I think discretion will likely be in your favor. From your description, especially as you were able to qualify for PR, it looks good.

Keep in mind though, that this is discretionary. You mention several trips in and out of the UK in this previous year. UK Citizenship is not in any way tied to EU anything, and where you've gone is irrelevant. The total number of days absent/present in the UK during the various qualifying periods will be considered on their face value alone. If you were hoping for otherwise, that simply will not be the case.

Additional comments (response):

  1. There are many departments in the Home Office agency. One department handles all visas. Another separate department handles citizenship applications. They are independent of each other by design.
  2. While it may be true that there are similar residency requirements, that doesn't mean that UK applies the same leniency with how to deal with excessive absences. The ILR/PR department will forgive some things, according to its own guidelines, that the citizenship department won't according to its guidelines. And vice versa. One notable difference is that you can lose ILR/PR after excessive absence (normally 2 years). You will never lose citizenship due to absence of any kind once it's acquired.
  3. Permanent residence is one specific requirement to qualify for citizenship. Separately, there are also requirements for actual presence in the country. Separately, there are also requirements for good character, a clean immigration history, etc... It is entirely possible to be a permanent resident for the entirety of your life and never qualify for citizenship because of any one of these conditions never being met. Heck there are many citizens who would probably never qualify for ILR/PR! They are separate things.
  4. Again ILR/PR is merely one qualifier. There are others. Each qualifying point is considered, they are all taken together, and that's it. Where there is discretion possible, it is taken into consideration. You either qualify or you don't. What the ILR/PR folks might forgive, the citizenship folk will not even consider. They are very different relationships to the UK government. Citizenship is priviledge that the UK may bestow by any means it sees fit, or not at all. I know that some would like for this not to be true or perhaps be different (more subject to their own particular circumstances), but it is what it is.

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