EEA Family Permit – Rights of EU Nationals to bring family members to the UK

NOTE that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021. The UK Government are drafting new immigration legislation as of Feb 2020.

The EEA Family Permit

The Current Government Application Fee is £65.

Fee Any EU citizen taking up residence in the UK in accordance with the EU regulations can bring their family with them. The EEA family permit or visa is valid for six months. The permit allows the holder to enter and leave the UK as many times as he/she needs to. The permit holder can take up employment in the UK.

Without an EEA family permit, entry into the UK can be refused.

After arriving in the UK, it is possible to apply for an EU residence card. This card confirms the person’s right of residence in the UK and is valid for 5 years.

It is not compulsory to apply for a residence card. It will however, make it easier to prove your right to live and work in the UK. Note that extended family members must apply for the residence card.

Biometric Requirements

Foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area making certain applications to the Home Office have to apply for a biometric residence permit. This applies to both postal applications and applications made in person (known as ‘premium applications’). The biometric residence permit is a residence permit which holds a migrant’s biographic details (name, date and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints), and shows their immigration status and entitlements while they remain in the UK. This also means that a UK visa will no longer be stamped in applicant’s passport and all applicants will be issued one of the new Biometric visa cards instead. These cards look very similar to a (pink) UK driving license except they have a microchip on the back.

Applicants who wish to extend their stay in the UK by post, the Home Office will send them a letter asking them to enrol their biometrics after the Home Office have received their application. Applicants will be able to enrol their biometric information one of the Post Offices offering this service across the UK using their walk-in service.

Applicants who are submitting their application in person can do this at one of the Public Enquiry Offices by using the premium service. Applicants will enrol applicants’ biometric information at the same time as making their application.

For application submitted overseas, the applicants have to provide their biometric enrolment at one of the Visa Facilitation Centres. Successful applicants will receive a 30 day ‘vignette sticker’ in their passport instead of a vignette with the full grant of leave. This 30 day visa will be the date they indicated as their intended travel date in their visa application. Applicants will be required to collect their BRP from the Post Office branch detailed in their decision letter within ten days of arrival in the UK. The Post Office branch is linked to the postcode that they submitted in their visa application. The BRP card can then be used as proof of right to work, study and access public services in the UK.

How to qualify for the EEA Family Permit

It is possible to qualify for the EEA Family Permit if you are a family member or an extended family member of an EEA citizen or Swiss national coming to the UK.

It is also possible to qualify if you have a derivative right of residence. If you can make a Surinder Singh application, or have a retained right of residence.

We will briefly discuss each of the routes below.

If the family member of the EU national has been in the UK for more than three months, he will be allowed to remain only if his EU national sponsor has either permanent residence in the U.K. or is exercising Treaty Rights (e.g., He/she is in employment, in business, economically self-sufficient or in some case if he/she is studying in the UK or temporarily out of work).

The EEA family member must have full health insurance if he/she is applying on the basis of his sponsor being a student or self-sufficient.

Qualifying as Family Member

In principle, all non-EU members of the family, accompanying or joining the EEA citizen, or Swiss national, to/in the UK can apply for an EEA Family visa or permit.

To qualify as a direct family member, you must be the EEA citizen’s spouse or civil partner, or the child or grandchild under 21 of the EU national or his spouse/civil partner.

Dependent parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren over 21 (of the EU national or his spouse) can qualify at any age as long as they can prove to be financially dependant on the EU sponsor.

UK Immigration law regard adopted family members as natural family.

Qualifying as Extended Family Member

It is also possible to apply as an extended family member of the EU national. This will, for example, be an unmarried partner who has been in a durable relationship with the EU (and has in general lived with him/her for at least 2 years), brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin or niece.  Except for unmarried partners, all other extended family members have to prove to be or have been dependent on the EU citizen or to be or have been a member of their household.

Alternatively, the extended family member has to prove a serious health condition. Furthermore, that he/she rely on the care from the EU citizen.

Extended family members must apply for an EU Family Permit or Residence Card to reside legally in the UK.

Qualifying with Surinder Singh Route application

If you have lived in another EEA country, with an eligible family member who is a British citizen, you can also apply for an EEA family permit to enter the UK. This is called the ‘Surinder Singh route,’ after the case law that established this precedent.

In short, this route entails the spouse/civil partner/child/stepchild/parent or parent-in-law of a British citizen who has exercised Treaty Rights (as a worker, self-employed, etc.) in another EU State to enter and reside in the U.K under the EU law (rather than under the UK immigration legislation).

You will have to prove that during this time, the other EU state was your main residence.  You will also have to prove that you lived there together and integrated there.

It is not necessary under this route to fulfill the UK minimum income threshold requirement.

It is important to note that you have to fulfil very strict requirements to qualify under the Surinder Singh route. We highly recommend that you speak to us for more information.

Qualifying with a Derivative Right of Residence

We highly recommend that you contact  us before considering this route. Below are only brief pointers on this immigration route.

It is possible to apply for an EEA Family Permit if you have a derivative right of residence.

You will have a derivative right of residence if you are:

  • The primary carer of an EEA child in the UK, and financially independent.

  • A child of an EEA former worker and you are currently in education in the UK.

  • The primary carer of a child of an EEA former worker. This child is currently in education in the UK.

  • A primary carer of a British child.

  • The primary carer of a British dependent adult; or

  • A child of a primary carer who qualifies through one of these categories.

The Home Office defines the primary carer as someone who has responsibility of the day-to-day care of the person. This includes decision making about education, health, and finance. The primary carer must be a family member or the legal guardian. This person can be the main carer or can share the responsibility with someone else.

You have to fulfil very strict requirements to qualify under this route. We highly recommend that you speak to us for more advice.

Qualifying with a Retained Right of Residence

We highly recommend that you contact us before considering this route. Below are only brief pointers on this immigration route.

One can apply for an EEA Family Permit if you previously had a right to reside in the UK as the family member of an EEA national who either had a permanent right of residence in the UK or was a worker, student, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or someone looking for work in the UK.

You can receive a Retained Right of Residence in one of the following ways:

  • Your marriage or civil partnership to that person has ended due to a divorce, annulment or dissolution.

  • The person died, and you have lived in the UK for at least one year before their death.

  • You are the child of an EEA national who has died or left the UK. Or you are the child of their spouse or civil partner, or former spouse or civil partner, and you were in education when that person left the UK or died, and you continue to be in education.

  • You are the parent and have custody, of a child who has a retained right of residence because they are in education in the UK.

Specific requirements in cases of divorces

It is only possible to apply if you were in the UK as the EEA national’s family member on the date the divorce/civil partnership was finalised/ended and one of the following applies;

  • The civil partnership or marriage lasted 3 years before legal proceedings began. The couple lived in the UK for at least 1 year before the divorce, annulment or dissolution was finalised.

  • You have custody of a child of the relevant EEA national.

  • You have access rights to the child of the relevant EEA national. The judge ordered access to the child in the UK, and the child is younger than 18 years of age.

  • You, or a family member, have been a victim of domestic violence during the marriage or civil partnership.

  • Any other particularly difficult circumstances that will justify the retaining right of residence.

You have to fulfil very strict requirements to qualify under this route. We highly recommend that you speak to one of our consultants for more advice.

Length of stay and Right to Work with the EEA Family Permit

The EEA family permit is valid for a period of six months.

Within the first 6 months of arrival in the UK, the EU National is advised to apply for an EU Residence Card. All non-EU family members should apply at the same time. If their application is approved, they will receive a residence card in the format of a Biometric Resident Permit (BRP).

Non-EU family members’ right to remain in the UK are dependent on the EU family member continuing to exercise Treaty Rights in the UK. He/she must for example be in employment, in business, or be economically self-sufficient.

There are no work restrictions on the holders of an EEA Family Permit.

Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and the EEA Family Permit

After spending five years in the UK, from the first date of entry, with the EEA family visa, it is possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

All the family members can lodge this application, including the EU citizen.

It is important though to note that the EU citizen must exercise his/her EU Treaty rights throughout the 5-year period.

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