The European Economic Area (EEA) family permit has made it substantially easier for non-EEA family members to move around EU member states. Eligible EEA nationals with either the intention of, or currently living in the UK on a long term basis may sponsor their foreign family member to accompany or join them in the UK. Despite being administered by the Home Office, EEA family permits are issued under the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 and not UK Immigration Rules.

The process entails:

  1. An initial application for a permit by the non-EEA individual in order to facilitate entry into the UK – this is valid for 6 months;
  2. Once the non-EEA applicant has entered the UK, he or she can apply for a Residence Card which, although not mandatory, will help the individual to re-enter the country more quickly and easily if travelling abroad, show employers you’re allowed to work in the UK and help in qualifying for certain benefits and services;
  3. After 5 years, an application can be made for a permanent Residency Card.

The EEA national must be exercising Treaty Rights in the UK in accordance with EEA regulations. For example as a worker, a self-employed person, financially self-sufficient, a student or a job seeker at the time of application.

Who can apply?

The Free Movement of Persons Directive (2004/38/EC) defines a direct family member of an EEA national as their

  • Spouse;
  • Civil partner;
  • Direct descendants under 21, i.e. children or grandchildren;
  • Dependant direct relatives in the ascending line.

For spouse and civil partner applications, evidence such as marriage certificates, civil partner certificates and divorce or death certificates from previous relationships are essential. A child under 21 who is applying for an EEA family permit will require birth certificates to show their familial link.

Outside of direct family members, the following can also apply for an EEA family permit:

  • Dependant extended family members, such as an unmarried partner, brother, sister or cousin;
  • A carer of either a British Citizen, a financially self-sufficient EEA national child or a child of an EEA national who was a worker in the UK.

Unmarried partners must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Home Office that they are in a durable relationship with each other and have been living together in a subsisting relationship for at least two years immediately preceding the date of application. Evidence such as official documentation addressed to both parties in single or joint names for the qualifying period is required.

For further information regarding the EEA family permit, do not hesitate to contact us.