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Time spent in the UK with a right to reside under EEA regulations
Time spent in the UK does not count as lawful residence under paragraph 276A of the Immigration Rules for third country nationals who have spent time in the UK as:
During the time spent in the UK under the provisions of the EEA regulations, the individuals are not subject to immigration control, and would not be required to have leave to enter or leave to remain.
However, you must apply discretion and count time spent in the UK as lawful residence for an EU or EEA national or their family members exercising their treaty rights to reside in the UK. Sufficient evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the applicant has been exercising treaty rights throughout any period that they are seeking to rely on for the purposes of meeting the long residence rules.
This does not affect the rights of family members of EEA nationals to permanent residence in the UK, where they qualify for it after a period of 5 years residence in the UK – Regulation 15 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.
If an applicant was in the UK with a right to reside under European Economic Area (EEA) regulations, continuous residence is not broken if they leave the UK and are then re-admitted under the EEA regulations. When granting a Long Residence application in which a person has relied on a period of leave in the UK exercising treaty rights as an EEA national or their family member, any grant of leave must be made outside the Immigration Rules.