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Leaving the EU through the back door while the parties rage on

05 December 2016

Whilst Brexit debates and litigation bubble away, a number of changes are being made to the way the United Kingdom approaches immigration of EEA Nationals and their families. The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 are being replaced with a consolidated 2016 version.

Changes coming into effect on 1 February 2017 include a requirement that EEA applications be made on specified forms, which may be in contravention of EU law. New screening and verification processes to assess eligibility for residence will come into effect the same day.

A definition of partnerships ‘of convenience’ is added to include those relationships entered into for the purpose of using the Regulations to circumvent the Immigration Rules, which entail complex financial requirements for family member visas.

The UK is also narrowing the definition of extended family members such that the family members of an EEA national’s partner will not necessarily enjoy rights under the Regulations.

Major changes to the provision allowing British nationals to bring family members to the UK by exercising EU treaty rights in another EEA member state came into effect on 25 November 2016. Family members of British nationals who are self-sufficient or students residing in an EEA state, or who have acquired permanent residence in an EEA state, now may be eligible for EEA family permits. Previously, the British national had to be exercising treaty rights in the other member state by working to be able to use this route to bring family members to the UK.

Extended family members are no longer eligible for this route and the residence in the EEA state must not have been for the purpose of circumventing the Immigration Rules. It is not clear how the Home Office will determine the purpose of residence in another EEA state.

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