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International Students


After five years or more in the UK as a ‘qualified person’, EEA nationals have the automatic right of permanent residence in the UK under EU law. It is not mandatory to apply for this status from the Home Office but you may wish to apply for a permanent residence document to evidence your right to live in the UK permanently.

Your right to claim permanent residence will lapse should you spend more than 2 years outside of the UK.

You would also need a permanent residence document to be able to apply for British citizenship.

What does it mean to be a 'qualified person'?

An EEA national is considered a ‘qualified person’ if they are residing in the UK in one of the following categories:

• a job-seeker (temporary)

• a worker

• self-employed

• a student who is self-sufficient

• self-sufficient and supporting yourself financially

• a family member of a person in one of these groups.

You automatically have the right to permanent residency if you have been a ‘qualified person’ during a continuous 5 year period. You can combine periods in different categories together to count towards a five year period as long as they are continuous. For example, 2 years as a worker and 3 years as a student.

In order to be a ‘worker’ the employment must be ‘genuine and effective’. Occasional work undertaken during studies is likely to be considered marginal and supplementary to your actual status as a student.

Application requirements

To apply for evidence of permanent residency based on 5 years continuous residency as a student, you would need to provide the following with your application:

• Passport-sized photographs with name written on the back.

• Passport or a national identify card from an EEA state demonstrating you have been an EEA national for the five year period.

• Evidence you were a student during a continuous five year period. This could be in the form of a letter from each institution you have studied at which confirms the course title, start and end dates, the qualification and whether the course is/was full- or part-time. For studies undertaken at the University of Cambridge, you could obtain the letter from Student Registry

• Evidence you had sufficient financial resources during the 5 year period. Evidence that could be submitted includes:

  • bank statements;
  • receipt of scholarship, bursary or grant;
  • financial support from a relative or other person, for example parental funding or a spouse’s salary earned through lawful working in the UK. In addition to evidence of this person’s finances, you should include a signed and dated letter from that person confirming that they have been supporting you financially and for how long.

There is no specified amount that would need to have been available to you during this period. The Home Office will need to be satisfied that you had access to sufficient financial resources during this time to meet your financial commitments and living costs.

• Evidence of Comprehensive Sickness Insurance. The Government defines this as full health insurance. You can evidence this by using:

  • Valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by an EU member state (not the UK). You will need to demonstrate that you have held a valid EHIC throughout the 5 year period. If evidence of your EHIC does not cover the whole period or does not feature a ‘valid from’ date, you must also submit evidence from the issuing authority confirming you held a valid EHIC for the full period.
  • Private medical insurance policy documents. This should cover medical treatment in the majority of circumstances. The definition of comprehensive sickness insurance does not include cash-back health schemes or travel insurance policies.
  • If you do not have either of the above, the Home Office accepts forms S1, S2 or S3. These would need to be obtained from the health provider in your country of nationality. Further information on these forms can be found here.  You would need to contact the health provider in your home country to ascertain whether these forms would be relevant to your circumstances and, if they are, whether they can be issued retrospectively.

• Evidence of living in the UK during the 5 year period. If the period you are relying on is not up to present day then you should submit evidence that you continued to reside in the UK beyond this period.These documents are expected to come from a variety of sources and should be spread evenly over the 5 years. Evidence might include:

  • Bank statements (if not already provided to demonstrate financial resources)
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Council tax statements
  • Electricity, gas or water bills   
  • NHS letters confirming the period of registration at a GP surgery or evidence of regular appointments 
  • Confirmation of accommodation from College or University if in College or University owned accommodation.
  • Documents such as character references, photos and multimedia are NOT acceptable

All documents submitted must be originals. You may wish to include a cover sheet with your supporting documents to set out the period each documents covers

Applying with a status other than as a student

If you are applying on the basis of having a status other than as a student for the entire 5 year period, please see the information on the HR Compliance Team webpages.

How to make an application

There are two ways to make an application to the Home Office for a permanent residence document:

  • Download and complete the EEA(PR) paper application
  • Use the online version of the EEA(PR) form. Students cannot use the online version of the form if they are reliant on a family member to support them financially or financially responsible for other family members. After completing the form and paying the application fee, you will need to print out the form and send it to the Home Office. If applying online, you may wish to use the European passport return service offered by Cambridgeshire Council. This service allows the Council to check your passport and hand it straight back to you without the need for you to submit it with your other application documents

However you apply, you will need to pay the £65 fee.

Guidance on how to complete the application and the required supporting documents can be found on the Home Office website

Absences from the UK

As part of your application you will need to declare any absences of more than 6 months in any 12 months of the qualifying period. Continuity is broken if an individual has spent more than 6 months outside of the UK at any one time. The 5 year period would start again from your return to the UK after a period of more than 6 months abroad

If you have been abroad for 6 months or more as part of your course (i.e for fieldwork) the caseworker may consider whether discretion would be appropriate. You should provide documentation to show that the absence was part of your studies and authorised by the institution.

How long will it take?

There is no published processing time but as at October 2018 we are aware of applicants receiving an outcome within 4-6 weeks. There is no fast track service.

Applying for UK Citizenship

It is a requirement for anyone who wishes to apply for UK citizenship to have obtained a permanent residence document. You must be in the UK for a further year after qualifying for permanent residence before you can apply for citizenship.