EEA Family Permit Applications
An EEA family permit application is similar to entry clearance and allows non-EEA nationals to enter and leave the UK without restriction for 6 months for the purpose of joining EEA family members in the UK.
They are issued free of charge by the Home Office under the European regulations. They can be further extended to allow the family member to stay for 5 years.
Eligibility requirments for the EEA family member in the UK
Non-UK EEA or Swiss nationals may be joined by family from overseas if they themselves are either already in the UK or moving there within the 6-month validity period of the EEA family permit which is granted to their overseas relatives.
Please note that an EEA family permit cannot be used to join family members in the UK who are British nationals (however, see below for Surinder Singh applications).
If the EEA national has already been in the UK for more than 3 months, they must either have permanent residence in the UK or be exercising their treaty rights (EU free movement), i.e. be one or several of the following:
- A worker (requires proof of employment)
- Self-employed (requires evidence of paying tax and national insurance)
- A student (requires proof of study from institution)
- Financially independent (requires e.g. bank statements).
Please note that students and financially independent persons must have private comprehensive sickness insurance and students may only be joined by their partner and dependent children.
Who qualifies as a family member or extended family of an EEA national?
Non-EEA must demonstrate that they are related to and in the case of extended family members, dependent on the EEA national that they are wishing to join in the UK.
- Spouses, civil partners and direct descendants under the age of 21 (children and grandchildren) are eligible for an EEA Family Permit if they can prove their relationship to the EEA national (e.g. birth certificate).
- Direct descendants over 21 years of age, direct relatives in the ascending line (parents and grandparents), siblings and other relatives such as and cousins may be eligible for an EEA Family Permit if they are dependent on the EEA citizen, for instance, because they are a member of the EEA national’s household or rely on the EEA national for care due to a serious health condition. These individuals must evidence both their relationship to and dependency on the EEA national.
- Unmarried partners of EEA nationals may also be eligible for an EEA Family Permit if the relationship with the EEA national is genuine and lasting, and the couple has lived together for a minimum of 2 years.
Applying for an EEA Family Permit and an EEA Residence card
An application for an EEA Family Permit can only be made from outside the UK and is usually processed within 20 working days. There is no application fee.
If the application is successful, the EEA Family Permit will be issued as a vignette in the passport of the non-EEA national and will be valid for 6 months.
Once the non-EEA national has joined their EEA family in the UK, they should apply for an EEA Residence card if they wish to stay in the UK beyond the 6-month validity period of the EEA Family Permit.
Direct family members (direct descendants under 21 or who are dependent on the EEA national, dependent parents and grandparents) are not required to apply for a card, but may find it useful to have one to prove their right of residence and right to work more easily. Extended family members, on the other hand, must apply for an EEA residence card and submit their application before their EEA family permit expires.
An EEA Residence card is normally issued for a period of 5 years, following which an application for Permanent Residence may be made.
Non-EEA family members of returning British nationals: Surinder Singh applications
Since EEA Family Permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, they can only be claimed by relatives of EEA nationals who are exercising their right to free movement or have acquired Permanent Residence after having done so. This means that EEA nationals who have not “activated” their free movement rights, i.e. because they have always remained their country of origin, are not governed by EEA free movement legislation and cannot be joined by family from overseas on an EEA Family Permit but must use whatever routes are available in the national legislation.
However, British citizens who wish to return to the UK with non-EEA family members after having exercised (i.e. activated) their free movement rights by residing in another EEA member state, will be able to use an EEA Family Permit.
In the UK, this is known as the Surinder Singh route. The British citizen must be able to prove a genuine period of residence in another EEA member state for a period of over 3 months, during which he or she carried out a “qualifying activity”. A qualifying activity means being a worker or self-employed person, a student or a financially independent person with comprehensive sickness insurance. The British citizen and the family member with whom they wish to return to the UK must have lived in the EEA member state together.
How NA Law Solicitors can help you with an EEA Family Permit Application?
We are a niche immigration law firm that specialises in this area of law. Our team of specialist immigration lawyers can assist you with the entire process of applying for an EEA Family Permit and an EEA Residence card, including any supporting evidence you will be required to submit.
Please contact us for a free initial 15-minute consultation.