EU/EEA nationals and their families
EEA nationals and their family members and extended family members may be able to reside in the UK, and acquire permanent residence and ultimately naturalise as British Citizens.
The EEA national will need to be economically active, ie exercising Treaty rights. This means working, self employed, studying, self sufficient, looking for work. In some situations EEA family and extended family members may have a right to stay in the UK even if the EEA national is no longer in the UK or exercising Treaty rights. These are known as Retained and Derivative rights of residence.
EEA nationals and their family members can apply for residence documents as proof that they have the right to reside in the UK. These are residence certificates for EEA nationals, and residence cards for non EEA national family members and extended family members. Extended family members do need a residence card and in the current climate of uncertainty following the Brexit vote it is advisable to have a document even when not strictly necessary.
If outside the UK, non EEA family members and extended family members will need to apply for an EEA family permit.
EEA nationals and their family and extended family members can acquire permanent residence and after a year with permanent residence may be able to naturalise as British Citizens.
Our specialists in EU law can advise you and your family members on your rights to live and work in the UK, on the steps that can be taken to obtain the relevant documents confirming your rights and safeguarding your future.
We frequently assist EEA nationals whose applications for residence documents have been refused and have a great deal of experience in assisting EEA nationals facing deportation. Despite UK Immigration and Visas taking an increasingly tough approach, at Lupins we continue to have a successful track record for our clients.
The following is a basic overview. Please remember there is no substitute for seeking advice directly from one of our experts, as every case is different and the law and political climate is constantly changing.
Are you a citizen of an EEA country?
If you are a citizen of an EEA country (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and for the purposes of immigration, Switzerland; you have what is known as an initial right of residence for 3 months.
After this you can stay in the United Kingdom and don’t need any kind of documentation to confirm your residence in the United Kingdom as long as you are exercising treaty rights. This means, you must be doing one of the following:-
Looking for work
If you are carrying out these activities, you are also known as a qualified person.
Do I need an immigration document – EEA Registration certificate
As a qualified person, you don’t need any documentation to confirm your immigration status in the United Kingdom, because the right of residence exists as a matter of European Union law. However, in some circumstances it may be easier for you to obtain various services if you have a registration certificate, as this document acts as clear confirmation of your right of residence in the UK.
Having a registration certificate can also make it easier to make applications for your family and extended family members to stay in the United Kingdom.
A registration certificate will be valid for 5 years.
In the current climate of uncertainty following the Brexit vote, it may be advisable to have a registration certificate as this may make any future application for a document certifying permanent residence easier.
The government has also confirmed that after the UK leaves the EU, all EU citizens and their families living in the UK will need to apply for new documents under the new immigration regime. Having a registration certificate may make that process easier.
Permanent residence after 5 years
When you have lived in the UK continuously for 5 years (have not been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in any one year) and throughout the 5 year period, you have been working, studying, self employed, self sufficient, or looking for work, you will acquire permanent residence and will be able to apply for a document certifying permanent residence.
Permanent residence before 5 years
In some situations, you may be able to get permanent residence in less than 5 years.
- If you have to stop working you can get permanent residence immediately if you have to stop working permanently due to permanent incapacity because of a work related accident or illness, that means you are entitled to a UK pension.
- After you have been resident in the UK for 2 yearsIf you have lived continuously in the UK for 2 years or more, you could get permanent residence if you have to stop working or being self employed because of an accident or illness resulting in permanent incapacity.
- After you have been resident in the UK for 3 yearsIf you have lived continuously in the UK for 3 years or more, you can get permanent residence when you:
- reach state pension age
- and you have worked as an employee or self employed continuously in the UK for the previous year
- retire early having worked continuously in the UK for 1 year
- start work or self employment in another EEA country or Switzerland
You must usually return to your UK home once a week and have worked or have been self employed in the UK for 3 years or more.
Do I need a document certifying permanent residence?
You don’t need a document to confirm your status. However if you intend to apply for British Citizenship you will need to have a document certifying you have permanent residence.
The government has also confirmed that after the UK leaves the EU, all EU citizens and their families living in the UK will need to apply for new documents under a new immigration regime. Having a document certifying your permanent residence now, may make that process easier.
When you have had permanent residence for one year, you will be eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. If you do this before the UK leaves the EU you won’t need to worry about complying with requirements under a new immigration regime.
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Family members of EEA citizens
Family members of EEA citizens who are qualified ie working, self employed, self sufficient, studying, or looking for work have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom.
A family member is:
- Their spouse or civil partner
- Their (or their spouse/civil partner’s) child or grandchild who is under 21 or a dependent
- Their (or their spouse/civil partner’s) dependent parents or grandparents
If the EEA national qualified person is a student, you can only qualify as their family member if you are their spouse or civil partner, or their (or their spouse/civil partner’s) dependent child.
Other relatives of students must qualify as extended family members – see below.
Do I need a residence document?
Family members who are EEA nationals can apply for an EEA residence certificate.
Non EEA family members can apply for a residence card. Residence documents are usually valid for 5 years
You don’t need to apply for a residence card as a family member of an EEA national, but it can:
- help you re-enter the country more quickly and easily if you travelled overseas
- show employers you are allowed to work in the UK
- help you prove you qualify for certain benefits and services
- A residence certificate or residence card may make it easier when applying for permanent residence
In the current climate of uncertainty, the government has confirmed that a new scheme will be available for EU citizens and their families to apply to stay in the UK after the UK leaves the EU. Having a document confirming your right of residence may make it easier to apply for the replacement document which will be available under the new scheme.
Extended family members
You can reside in the UK as an extended family member if you are either:
- The unmarried partner of the EEA national and you are in a lasting relationship with them that is similar to a marriage or civil partnership – durable relationship.
- A relative of the EEA national (or their spouse or civil partner) but you do not qualify as their family member
- Relatives include brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces and cousins.
Relatives can also include grandchildren, parents and grandparents if the EEA national only has the right to residence as a student.
One of the following must also apply:
- Before coming to the UK, you were dependent on the EEA national or were a member of the EEA national’s household, and you are still dependent on them or are still a member of their household.
- You need the personal care of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) on serious health grounds.
Do I need a residence document? – YES
Extended families to do not have an inherent right to reside in the UK. You need to apply either for an EEA permit if you are outside the United Kingdom, or a residence card if you are already in the UK. The application will be considered based on your individual circumstances. The Home Office retains a discretion as to whether to issue an EEA permit or residence card.
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Retained Right of Residence
As a family member of an EEA national who is in the UK as a qualified person, your right to reside in the UK is dependent on the activity of the qualified person.
So what happens if you cease to be the family member of a qualified person, ie because he divorces you?
What happens if the qualified person leaves the UK or ceases to be economically active consequently is no longer a qualified person?
In some situations, you will be able to apply for what is known as a retained right of residence. You may get this if for example:-
- Your marriage or civil partnership to an EEA citizen has ended with a divorce, annulment or dissolution (you must have been married for at least 3 years, and have spent at least 1 year in the UK (if you separate but do not divorce, then under EEA law, you remain a family member of an EEA national and therefore your right of residence may continue on this basis).
- Your EEA family member has died and you lived in the UK as a family member for at least one year before their death
- You are in education and you are the child of an EEA citizen (or their current or former spouse or civil partner) who has left the UK or died
- Your child has a retained right of residence because they are in education in the UK (and you have custody of them)
You will need to prove that your family member or extended family member, was a permanent resident or a qualified person at the time your family relationship ended . You will also need to prove how the relationship ended, for example, a death certificate or decree absolute if you are divorced will be required.
Surinder Singh route – Family member of a British citizen if you have lived in another EEA country before returning to the UK
You may have the right to reside in the United Kingdom if you are the family member of a British citizen who prior to returning to the UK was working in another EEA country. Your British family member must be one of the following:-
- Your spouse or civil partner
- Your parent or grandparent (or their spouse or civil partner) – you must also be under 21 years of age or dependent on them.
- Your child or grandchild (or their spouse or civil partner) – you must be dependent on them.
Do I need a residence document?
Yes, an EEA Family permit or Residence card
To be eligible, you must prove that your British family member either has the right to permanent residence in the EEA country where you lived together, or provide proof that they were working, self employed, self sufficient or studying.
You will need to prove that you and your British family member genuinely made your home in the EEA country where you lived together. It must have been your main residence or base for the centre of your life.
You will need to provide evidence that you lived there together such as proof of renting or buying your home. You will also need to provide evidence that you were integrated there, for example, speaking the language, were involved in your local community or your children were born or living there.
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EEA family permits
If you are a non-EU national family member or extended family member of an EEA national and you are outside the United Kingdom, you can apply for an EEA Family permit. This is in some ways similar to making an application for a visa. However, you don’t need to pay a fee and usually the application will be given priority.
Applying as a family member or extended family member
The EEA citizen you are joining must either:
- Be in the UK already
- Be travelling with you to the UK within 6 months of the date of your application
If they have been in the UK for more than 3 months, they must either:
- Have a permanent right of residence
- Be a qualified person – ie working, looking for work, self employed, studying or self sufficient
Other EEA family permit applications
You can apply for an EEA family permit where you have:
- A retained right of residence
- A derivative right of residence
- Your family member is a British citizen with whom you were living in an EEA country – Surinder Singh route.
You can currently apply for a permanent residence document if you have lived with your EEA family member in the UK for a continuous 5 year period and your EEA family member has been exercising treaty rights ( a qualified person) throughout the 5 years or has a permanent right of residence.
You can also get permanent residence if you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years:
- as the extended family member of an EEA national and you’ve held a valid EEA family permit and a residence card throughout
- as the family member of a British citizen, if you entered the UK under the Surinder Singh route
- as the family member of an EEA national and then with a retained right of residence
You can get permanent residence before 5 years if either:
- you were living with your EEA national family member, who was working or self-employed in the UK, immediately before their death
- your EEA national family member was working or self-employed in the UK but has ‘ceased activity’ (stopped work or self-employment because of retirement or permanent incapacity, or because they are now working or self-employed in another EEA state but are still resident and return to the UK at least once a week)
Do I need a permanent residence card
You will need a permanent residence card if you are an extended family member of someone from the EEA or Switzerland and are yourself not an EEA or Swiss national.
You will also need a permanent residence card if you want to apply for British citizenship or you want to sponsor your partner’s visa application under the Immigration Rules
Your permanent residence card won’t be valid after the UK leaves the EU.
The government has confirmed that a new scheme will be available for EU citizens and their families to apply to stay in the UK after the UK leaves the EU. Having a document confirming your right of residence may make it easier to apply for the replacement document which will be available under the new scheme.
When you have had permanent residence for one year, you may be eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. If you do this before the UK leaves the EU you won’t need to worry about complying with requirements under a new immigration regime.
Derivative right of residence
You may have a derivative right to reside in the United Kingdom if you are one of the following:
- The primary carer of someone who has the right to live in the UK
- The primary carer’s child
- The child of a former EEA worker if you are at school, college or university in the UK
To be a primary carer, you must be someone’s main carer, or you share the responsibility with someone else and you are their direct relative or legal guardian.
Direct relatives are:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Children including adopted children but not step-children
As a person with a derivative right of residence, you will need to apply for a residence card if you are already in the UK. If outside the UK, you can apply for an EEA family permit.
Primary Carer – the person you care for must be one of the following:
- A British child who will have to leave the EEA if you left the UK
- A British dependent adult who would have to leave the EEA, if you left the UK
- A child of an EEA who is financially independent with full health insurance
A child of a primary carer:
You will need to satisfy all of the following:
- Your primary carer is eligible for derivative residence card
- You are under 18
- Your parent will be unable to continue living in the UK if you were required to leave
Child of an EEA national who stops work or leave the UK
You will need to satisfy all of the following:
- You must be in education in the UK
- Your EEA parent must have worked in the UK when you have lived in the UK
- Your EEA parent must have lived in the UK when you have been in education
- You are not able to get a UK Residence card or Registration certificate
If you come to LUPINS, you will get the result you want.
If there is a way, we find it and do it for you.
If there is no way we tell you, and don’t waste your time.
Where there is a way, we will deliver.
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LUPINS support you all the way:
- We will advise you on your EU/EEA rights for you and all your family members
- We will advise on whether you should apply for an EEA family permit if outside the UK or a residence document if you are already in the UK
- We will ensure that you have the correct documentation that proves you fulfil all requirements
- We will advise and assist you in completing the application forms including the on-line process where appropriate
- We will hold your hand throughout the application process liaising with UK Immigration and Visas
- We will make detailed representations in support of any application setting out clearly why the application should succeed, highlighting the documentation we are submitting, your specific circumstances and how this proves you meet all the requirements and have the right to reside in the UK
- We will continue updating you during the Brexit process so as to ensure you are in the best possible position to safeguard your future
Put simply, our immigration solicitors will hold your hands throughout the process,
liaising with all relevant government bodies, including UK Visas and Immigration,
British Consulate, overseas agents and where necessary the courts.