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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Forum readers,

I have what I think is a less than usual case but am fairly certain that someone reading this will have perhaps been through the same or maybe at least be able to advise me on the best route to take.

I a a British citizen who returned to the UK after a few years living abroad (4 years to be precise in Morocco then Spain). My wife is a Moroccan Citizen and we returned to the UK in June 2010, so we've been here for Three and a half years now. However when I decided to come back to the UK (whilst we were resident in Spain, and my wife had Spanish residency) we were advised by the British Embassy in Madrid that it was probably easier for her to enter as an EEA2, since I could be treated as an EEA national rather than a British Citizen as I had been "exercising treaty rights" living and working in Spain at that time.

So we got her an EEA2 family permit, for FREE too which was a welcome bonus, and we returned to Blighty. Shortly after I decided to apply for residence for my wife and she was granted residence in the form of a 5 year residence "sticker" in her passport.

Obviously, I would prefer to obtain for her a British passport as this will make traveling together considerably easier. The last time we tried to board a Ryanair flight to Portugal for a holiday we were told if she didn't have a visa then she couldn't get on the plane and no amount of explaining the rules of free movement was going to persuade the Ryanair "muppet" otherwise. In the end it was only showing her Spanish residency that allowed her to LEAVE the UK, no such problems were encountered on arrival in Portugal, where the Immigration official was most helpful and didn't even want to see a copy of our marriage certificate, being quite happy to take my word that this was my wife. Anyway, I digress, the point is I feel it will be easier for us both to travel if she has a UK passport.

So I have been doing some research and it all seems very complex. It would appear that she needs to have been resident in the UK for a minimum of 3 years to get citizenship as the spouse of a UK citizen but 5 years if applying as the spouse of an EEA national.

I believe that there are now minimum income requirements too but I understand that we would be exempt from these anyway since my wife was granted leave to enter & residency PRIOR to 9th July 2012.

I also see that there is now a Biometric Residence Permit but having read somewhere that she is not required to apply for further "leave to remain" / residence permissions as this is automatic as the spouse of an EEA national / British citizen under EU free movement rights / law. This is most confusing as I believe that to apply for citizenship / naturalization my wife needs to be a 'settled person' with ILR which I am guessing technically she does not have yet?

So my questions are:

What is the best route to obtain citizenship / passport in the shortest possible time?
What other alternatives are there?
What is the cost of each route?
I see that there is now a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should she apply for this too?
Any other useful info please
 

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Had you applied for her as a spouse in June 2010 when you returned she would have been eligible for ILR in June 2012 and citizenship in June 2013. As you elected to go the EEA route, she can apply for permanent residence after you have been in the UK exercising your treaty rights for 5 years. So, in June 2015 she can apply for permanent residence on form EEA4. I believe after 1 year as a permanent resident she can then apply to be naturalized as a UK citizen after which she can apply for a UK passport.
 

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After gaining permanent residence in 2015, she can apply for naturalisation straightaway because she is married to a British citizen. Prior to 2012 rules change, getting spouse visa was a much quicker way to settlement and citizenship (2 years and 3 years), but since she came here on Surinder Singh provision under EEA rules, the above timeline applies.

As for the cost, there is £55 fee now to apply for confirmation of permanent residence on form EEA4. Fees for naturalisation are £874, and processing takes around 3-6 months. No need to apply for BRP as she has residence card and eventually permanent residence card.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Surely there has to be a way to change her immigration status from EEA2 to spouse of Brit Cit, afterall people change from, student visa to fiance and spouse often enough, no?

Has anyone got any ideas of what we can do?
 

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Surely there has to be a way to change her immigration status from EEA2 to spouse of Brit Cit, afterall people change from, student visa to fiance and spouse often enough, no?

Has anyone got any ideas of what we can do?
If you switch to a spouse visa you'll be resetting the clock and it will be 5 years before she can apply for ILR and then citizenship.
 

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If you switch to a spouse visa you'll be resetting the clock and it will be 5 years before she can apply for ILR and then citizenship.
I'm afraid this is precisely the case. Perhaps you were misadvised back in 2010 and your wife should have applied for spouse visa instead (in spite of the cost), and if she had done so, she would have gained settlement last year and naturalisation this year. While she now has two more years to wait, it's not the end of the world and in the greater scheme of things, a relatively short period for all the advantages of citizenship. And she is going to save around £2,000 in total in visa fees.
 
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