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I want to apply for UK citizenship, I am an EU national and have studied in the UK for 6 years, with one year interruption (so: 1 year, abroad for a year, and then another 5 years in the UK). My girlfriend (and soon to be wife) is a British citizen. However, being an EU national, I never entered the UK using my passports, but only my identity card, i.e. I don't have any passport stamps.

What other evidence could I use? Since I studied in the UK, I thought a note from my uni might do? Or will this not suffice? Any other advice?

  • were you paying council tax? did you have a debit card? were you registered as a voter? these things can usually show that you were living in the UK – SztupY Nov 22 '16 at 18:27
  • As a student I did not pay council tax, I was also not registered as a voter. I did and do have a debit card though. I also studied in the UK. Might this be of any help? – George Welder Nov 22 '16 at 18:42
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Even if you had entered using your passport, you would have no passport stamps, because EU countries do not stamp the passports of EU citizens. The problem of having no passport stamps is therefore one that applies to every EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen who wants to prove presence in the UK.

You will first need to apply to have the UK recognize your status as a permanent resident. This is outlined on the relevant gov.uk page on becoming a British citizen:

There are different ways to become a British citizen. The most common is called ‘naturalisation’. You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if:

  • you’re 18 or over
  • you’re of good character, for example, you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record, and you haven’t tried to deceive the Home Office or been involved in immigration offences in the last 10 years
  • you’ll continue to live in the UK
  • you’ve met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
  • you meet the residency requirement

And you must usually have:

  • lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of your application
  • spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
  • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • had settlement (‘indefinite leave to remain’) in the UK for the last 12 months if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • had permanent residence status for the last 12 months if you’re a citizen of an EEA country - you need to provide a permanent residence document
  • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK

(Emphasis added.) The item in bold means that you'll need to get a permanent residence document and then wait at least a year before you can apply for naturalization.

There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen.

That bit links to the next page, which seems to say that once you marry your girlfriend, the 12-month waiting period no longer applies, but you'll still need the permanent residence card:

If you’re married to, or the civil partner of, a British citizen, you can apply for citizenship if:

  • you’re 18 or over
  • you’re of sound mind, you’re able to think and make decisions for yourself
  • you’re of good character, for example you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record
  • you’ve met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
  • you’ve been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (this means there’s no specific date that you have to leave) or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national (and you have a permanent residence card or document that shows you have permanent residence)
  • you meet the residency requirement

Unless your spouse or civil partner works abroad either for the UK government or for an organisation closely linked to government, you must usually also have:

  • lived in the UK for at least the 3 years before your application is received
  • spent no more than 270 days outside the UK in those 3 years
  • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK

The page on getting a permanent residence card confirms this:

You can only use your permanent residence document to apply for British citizenship after you’ve lived in the UK for 6 years.

That means you must wait another 12 months if you’ve only lived in the UK for 5 years when you get your document.

But you can apply immediately if:

  • you’ve already lived in the UK for 6 years when you get your document
  • your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen

I'm afraid your first year of study in the UK doesn't count, since you left for a year. That lengthy absence, I believe, means that your 5-year period of qualifying residence started after you returned, which means that for the purposes of acquiring permanent residence and qualifying to apply for naturalization, you have lived in the UK for only 5 years. I am not completely certain about this, though, so you may want to look at that question more closely.

Finally, to answer the question you posted, the page on getting a permanent residence card mentions some types of evidence you'll need and examples of documents you can use:

  • evidence that you’ve been living in the UK, such as gas, electricity and council tax bills, and letters from government departments
  • evidence that you’ve been working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for work, such as payslips, P60 forms and bank statements

The page also notes that

You’ll need to send other documents depending on your situation - check the form and guidance.

You may be able to apply online, or you may need to submit a paper application form. This depends on whether you, as a student, are reliant on someone else for financial support, or are providing financial support to someone else:

You can apply online for a permanent residence document if you’re from the EEA.

You can’t use this service if you’re a student or self-sufficient person and you’re either:

  • reliant on a family member for financial support
  • financially responsible for any other family members

Download and complete form EEA (PR) if you can’t apply online. Read the guidance before you fill in the form.

Post it to the Home Office address on the form, with the £65 fee and supporting documents listed.

The "download and complete" link above links to a page from which you can download both the form and the guidance. Do not overlook the advice to read the guidance before you fill in the form.

  • +1 v nice answer. Does the OP need to list references that have known him for a long time? – Gayot Fow Nov 22 '16 at 22:37
  • thanks. you write that That means you must wait another 12 months if you’ve only lived in the UK for 5 years when you get your document. But you can apply immediately if: you’ve already lived in the UK for 6 years when you get your document your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen - my wife is British, so I could apply now then it seems! – George Welder Nov 22 '16 at 22:41
  • @GeorgeWelder have you gotten married since posting? – phoog Nov 23 '16 at 0:24
  • well, future wife. (but not so distant future) – George Welder Nov 23 '16 at 0:38
  • evidence that you’ve been living in the UK, such as gas, electricity and council tax bills, and letters from government departments - while i do have evidence that I studied in the UK, I do not have any bills issued to my name -that was all done by other flatmates. The only thing I might have are some bank statements or I could ask my GP if he has got anything on record? Could I not use a note from my uni (that I did my BA & MPhil there) to also prove that I lived in the UK (not just to prove that I studied there)? – George Welder Nov 23 '16 at 0:51
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Shortly after the Brexit Referendum, the Open Society Justice Initiative circulated a practice note to various people in the UK legal community. Its contents are embargoed, but generally it advises solicitors with EU, EEA, or Swiss clients to...

  • Get an EU/EEA permanent residence card for the UK if doing so presents no harm to them; and
  • Prepare quality evidence that their qualifying period ended at least 1 year ago. This will enable the client to naturalise immediately upon receipt of the card.

Clients already holding an EU/EEA permanent residence card for the UK should create a timetable for when they will qualify for naturalisation and determine if it is in their benefit to do so.


Notes:

  • Historically, the Home Office has had a policy of giving more favourable treatment to clients who made an unrelated application prior to a given date.
  • Some EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will be able to qualify for UK permanent residence before 5 years
  • In addition to the above, clients with a connection to Scotland should continue to fortify evidence that supports a claim to Scots nationality. Similarly, work or connections to Northern Ireland and the Islands should be fortified with evidence as there may be constitutional changes giving favourable treatment in some cases.
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Did you have health insurance? Can you prove it? A non-UK EHIC is OK for a short time (six months I think), but not for your whole stay.

If so, @phoog seems to be correct. I will assume not, as most students do not.

Under the The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/1003/regulation/4/made you do not seem to qualify for permanent residence and your qualifying period has not started. You must have 'comprehensive sickness insurance' to meet the definition of 'student' and to count as exercising your EU treaty rights.

Unless you plan on looking for working very soon you should perhaps consider getting insurance. Once you're looking for work you no longer need (but you will need to prove you were looking for work). If you have insurance you don't have to use it - you're entitled to NHS care as a resident - but you need to have it.

You should still look up the permanent residence certificate application form and conditions, however. They require a lot of information - such as a list of all the dates you were out of the UK - that you should begin to collect. Keep everything - bills, bank statements, job offer and interview letters, etc.

(I am not a lawyer, I should add - but my girlfriend has encountered this problem when preparing an application and we had to research this stuff)

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