Surinder Singh – Scope widened beyond the employed and self-employed
The Surinder Singh route relates to the ability of British citizens to bring family members to the United Kingdom under the more relaxed regime of EU law rather than the tighter Immigration Rules.
Under the Surinder Singh route, British citizens that leave the UK to live in another EU country are entitled to return to the UK as a matter of EU law. The benefit of this is that when British Citizens return with non-EU national family members they have a right to bring them to the UK under EU law, which is more relaxed, than the regime under the Immigration Rules. British Citizens could thereby evade the minimum income requirements and the very stringent document requirements in order to bring family members to the UK under domestic law. This can be done so long as:
- the British Citizen has lived in another EU country for at least 3 months; and
- the family life with the other family member was either created or strengthened whilst they lived in that EU country.
In order to avoid what was perceived by the Government as abuse of the system by people creating the conditions so that they could rely on their EU rights rather than domestic immigration law, the UK Government set out to tighten the rules in the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 in relation to the Surinder Singh route. In order to rely on that route a person had to be a worker or a self-employed person and the centre of their life had to be transferred to that other EU country as opposed to just having their family life either being created there or strengthened. The following are the relevant factors in assessing whether the centre of a person’s life has been transferred to another EU country:
- length of time they resided in that country
- where there principal residence was
- how much they integrated into that other country
The changes are that the Surinder Singh route will apply not only to British citizens who move to another EU country to work as an employee or a self-employed person but also to those studying or who were self-sufficient. The other change will be that a person will only need to show that their residence in the other EU country was genuine and they will no longer need to show that the centre of their life had been transferred to that other EU country. However whether the centre of that person’s life had been transferred will be relevant to whether his residence was genuine along with the following:
- the length of that person’s residence with their family member in that other EU country
- the nature and quality of their accommodation there
- whether it was their principal residence
- the degree of their integration in that other EU country and;
- whether that family member’s first lawful residence in the EU was with the British Citizen in that other EU country.
Another key restriction is that the regulations do not apply to person who is found to have moved to another EU country for the purpose of seeking to circumvent the domestic immigration rules.
This appears to be a modest relaxation in the UK’s interpretation of the Surinder Singh route which while the UK remains part of the EU will benefit British citizens and their non- EEA family members. However it still comes nowhere near the requirements of EU law which are far more relaxed and which until the UK leaves the EU should apply in our UK domestic law.
There has been doubt as to whether this route applied to British citizens that were job-hunting in another EU country, studying or were self-sufficient but our lawyers who specialize in this area have always sought to argue that this route does apply to the above mentioned based on their understanding of EU law. With these changes there is at least more certainty that this route will apply to students and those that are self-sufficient.
Our Immigration solicitors and caseworkers specialise in EU residence applications and can advise and assist in relation to applications and appeals on EU law grounds. We have had recent successes with Surinder Singh applications. Please click here for testimonials from the clients that we have helped with such applications. Book an appointment today with one of our solicitors or caseworkers.
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