As a member of the European Union (EU) as of now, the UK permits nationals of other EU member states to enter the UK in exercise of their right of free movement within the EU zone. The EU nationals and their family members have the right to live and work in the UK if the EU national is a ‘qualified’ person in the exercise of their treaty rights under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (EEA Regulations).
There has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.
EEA member states
Countries that are part of the EEA are known as member states
Austria | Belgium | Bulgaria |Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Irish Republic | Italy | Latvia | Liechtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | United Kingdom
Switzerland: As of June 1st, 2002, an agreement was reached between the European community, its member states and the Swiss Confederation, that enables Swiss nationals and their family members to have the same free movement rights as EEA nationals and their family members.
United Kingdom: On 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Between then and (as of February 2020) 31 December 2020, a transition period is in operation that keeps in place all other aspects of the relationship to allow businesses to prepare and for a free trade agreement to be negotiated
Citizens of these countries listed above are known as EEA nationals. The member states include all the countries in the European Union (EU), Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. Nationals of Gibraltar have full British citizenship and are considered part of the European Economic Community (EEC). This means that people from Gibraltar have rights of free movement within EEA member states.
EEA Family Permit – Family member
An EEA family permit is a form of ‘entry clearance’ to the UK (just like a visa). It is for nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are family members of EEA nationals.
A non-EEA family member of an EEA national will need to obtain an EEA family permit before traveling to the UK if they are either:
- a ‘visa national’; or
- coming to live with the EEA national in the UK permanently or on a long-term basis
Applications for the EEA Family Permit are covered by the framework of European Treaty rights of ‘free movement’ of European nationals and their dependants. Any refusal of an EEA family permit does offer appeal rights in most cases for the applicants.
In the UK an EEA family permit is valid for 6 months. You can leave and enter the UK as many times as you need within that time.
Meaning of ‘family member’
To apply for entry clearance under this category the applicant must demonstrate that:
- they are the EEA citizen’s spouse or civil partner, or related to them (or their spouse or civil partner) as either their:
- child or grandchild under 21 years old, or dependent child or grandchild of any age*; or
- dependent parent or grandparent
*Family members who are adopted under an adoption order that is recognized in UK law are regarded the same as natural family.
At Irish Expert, our UK immigration solicitors have helped numerous non-EEA family members of EU nationals to apply for an EEA Family Permit to the UK. You can contact us if you are seeking legal help from UK visa consultants in relation to the UK EEA Family Permit.
EEA Family Permit – Extended Family member
Extended family members of EEA nationals residing in the UK can apply to join their family members in the UK.
Regulation 8 of the EU Law provides details of extended family members. Extended family members include brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews or nieces of the EEA national. You can also apply as an unmarried partner if you can show that you are in a lasting relationship with the EEA national.
The applicants must be able to show that they are either dependent on the EEA citizen or are a member of their household, or have a serious health condition and rely on them for care.
Until an applicant is recognized as an extended family member and issued with a residence card (or EEA family permit or registration certificate), he has no rights deriving from EU law.
At Irish Expert our UK immigration solicitors have helped extended family members of non-EEA family members of EU nationals to apply for an EEA Family Permit to the UK. You can contact us if you are seeking legal help from UK visa consultants in relation to the UK EEA Family Permit.
Residence card as a Family Member of an EEA National
Non-EEA family members who have joined the EEA national in the UK are eligible to apply for a Residence Card. Non-EEA nationals can be either a family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national. It is not mandatory to apply for a residence card, however, it helps the applicants re-enter the UK more quickly and easily if they are traveling abroad. A residence card also helps employers to ascertain that the applicant is allowed to work in the UK. It can also help applicants prove that they qualify for certain benefits and services.
Applicants can apply for a derivative right of residence card if they are the carer of an EEA citizen, the carer’s child, or the child of a former EEA worker and currently in education.
A residence card is valid for a period of 5 years, following which the applicant can apply for a permanent residence card.
The applicant must submit a valid passport along with other documents for the residence card application to be approved. In addition, the EEA national must be exercising treaty rights in the UK and provide evidence of the same along with the application.
EEA Regulations 2006, require the Home Office to consider and decide an application for residence card within 6 months from the date of receipt of the application. Any delay or negligence in part of the Home Office in not deciding the application within six months can be challenged by way of Judicial Review in the High Courts.
At Irish Expert our UK immigration solicitors have helped non-EEA national family members and extended family members of EEA nationals to apply for their residence card. You can contact us if you are seeking legal help from UK visa consultants in relation to a Residence card application.
Applying under the ‘Surinder Singh’ Route
Though The UK is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), non EEA family members cannot generally apply under this category to come to the UK.
However, you may be able to apply for an EEA family permit as a family member of a British citizen who has worked in another EEA country. This is known as the ‘Surinder Singh’ route.
To be eligible to apply under this route, the British citizen would have to provide evidence that they have been living in an EEA member state as a worker or a self-employed person and their non-EEA family member has been living with them in the EEA country. The non-EEA family member must be related to the British citizen as either their:
- spouse or civil partner; or
- child or grandchild (or the child or grandchild of their spouse or civil partner) and under 21 years of age or dependent on them; or
- parent or grandparent (or of their spouse or civil partner) and dependent on them
At Irish Expert our UK immigration solicitors have helped numerous non-EEA family members of EU nationals to apply for an EEA Family Permit to The UK. You can contact us if you are seeking legal help from UK visa consultants in relation to the UK EEA Family Permit.