What is the change? Non-EEA family members may now file residency applications online and take advantage of the passport passback service.

What does the change mean? The online process is more convenient, and the passport passback service allows EEA nationals and their family members to retain the ability to use their passport and ID card while the residence card is awaiting processing in the U.K.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Applicants for EEA residence certificates/cards or permanent residence certificates.
  • Who is affected: EEA nationals and their family members living in the U.K. The online service is unavailable to family members applying separately from the sponsoring EEA national.
  • Business impact: The online option eases the process for EEA nationals and their families to document their status amid continued uncertainty due to Brexit. The status of EEA nationals living and working in the U.K. remains in limbo and the U.K. government has indicated that it will not guarantee their rights until reciprocal guarantees are offered to U.K. nationals living in the EU.

Background: The paper form and application process have been replaced by an online application process for a residence or permanent residence application for Europeans living in the U.K. seeking to document their status, with the following important process improvements:

  1. Family members, including non-EEA nationals, can now be included in the online process for applying for residence and permanent residence documents (not just for the principal European applicant).
  2. A full list of all absences from the U.K. does not now have to be included in the online application process. (It is enough to state that there has been no absence for more than 180 total days in any one year).
  3. Periods of employment and continuous residence may be proven by P60 annual tax statements alone, reducing the need to submit volumes of additional paperwork to prove residence over the same period.
  4. The European passport passback service has also been extended. The service was previously only available for principal EEA national applicants but has now been extended to non-EEA family applications. The passback service ensures that passports and ID cards do not sit unnecessarily with the Home Office European team while applications await processing. Under the service, original documents are taken to the nearest registry office, copied officially and then given back to the bearer.

BAL Analysis: These process improvements are a step in the right direction, although they do not improve overall processing times, which remain at six months. The passport passback service allows for greater ease of travel when applying for permanent residence based on five years of continuous residence and gives a greater incentive for companies to document their employees’ right to work under European law prior to Brexit in 2019.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact
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