How can EEA nationals and/or their family members currently residing in the UK protect themselves in the event of the referendum voting to exit the EU?
Whilst it is unclear what the position will be in the event of a 'yes' vote in the June referendum EEA nationals and/or their family members may wish to consider pre-empting that vote by applying for a document certifying their permanent residency in the UK if they are not in a position to apply for naturalisation.
Prior to 12 November 2015 EEA nationals who had lived in the UK for 6 years, exercising Treaty rights for the first 5 consecutive years, could submit their naturalisation application relying on so called "deemed permanent residency". The same was applicable to their family members. Upon the applicant providing all the necessary documentation evidencing deemed permanent residency at least 12 months prior to the date of their naturalisation application, their application was considered and decided without the need to go through any additional application process with the Home Office.
However, since 12 November 2015 the requirements have changed and any EEA national or their family member must now submit a document certifying their permanent residence in the UK. A separate application for this document must be made by post and decided by the Home Office within 6 months. In support of their application, applicants will similarly have to submit all relevant documentation evidencing that they have resided in the UK for at least a continuous 5-year period exercising Treaty rights or as family members of such persons for the same duration of time.
Once an EEA national and their family are in possession of documentation certifying permanent residency they are able to apply for naturalisation subject to all the requirements for such an application.
The referendum is however, fast approaching and as such if you wish to pursue this option you need to act fast.