Family members of European EU/EEA citizens

The European law differentiates between ‘family members’ (used to be called direct family members) and ‘extended family members’. The difference is very important!

FAMILY MEMBERS:

Family members can be EU and non-EU nationals. A common example in our practice is an American spouse of a French or German citizen. However, it can also be a Hungarian spouse of a Polish national, so both spouses (and maybe children too) are EU nationals. In this case both American and Hungarian spouses have the same rights of residence, even though the former will be asked for a proof of right to work when applying for a job while the latter won’t be. (This is because most employers don’t know about the automatic rights under the EU law, yet the rights exist!)

Spouses and civil partners, including those who are separated but not yet divorced. There are no English or Financial Requirements (no need for income of £18,600).

Direct descendants: children or grandchildren under 21 y.o. (not under 18 y.o. as under the British law) of an EEA national or of his/her spouse/civil partner, so step-children can qualify as well. Those who are aged 21yo or older can be considered if they are dependent.

Dependent relatives in the ascending line: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc who are  dependent on an EEA national or his/her spouse/civil partner.

Dependency under the EU law is that of fact, the reasons for dependency are not relevant. For example, if a family member can work but chooses not to and depend on an EEA national instead, this would be acceptable (in principal).

A family member gains a right of residency automatically from the law and not from a ‘visa stamp’. Hence it is a very rare case where switching from a visitor status is possible (and is a common application we make). The downside is that the rights stop as automatically as start (unless a family member retains a right of residency).

There are restrictions on family members of EEA students.

 

RETAINED RIGHT OF RESIDENCE (can lead to permanent residence):

In some cases a family member can retain a right of residency. There are extensive requirements and the best would be to use our Advice Session.

For example, many know that a spouse can apply only when divorce has been finalised (in the UK it means a Decree Absolute), many know they have to have been married for at least 3 years. However, there more requirements, such as evidence that an EEA national has been exercising treaty rights up to the point of divorce while a non-EEA national continues to ‘exercise treaty rights’ after that (as if he/she were an EEA national).

 

DERIVATIVE RIGHT OF RESIDENCE (does not lead to permanent residence):

In some cases a family member can retain a right of residency. There are extensive requirements and the best would be to use our Advice Session.

Broadly, this right covers a child of an EU citizen (who is or was a worker in the UK) and that child is in education in the UK; the primary carer of that child; plus dependants of primary carer.  

 

EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS (examples):

Partners in a durable relationship. There is no definition of ‘durable’ but the Home Office considers this as an equivalent of an ‘Unmarried partner’ category and expects partners to prove they have lived together for at least 2 years.

Other family members, such as sisters, brothers, uncles etc, if they are dependent or members of the same household as an EEA national or his/her spouse/civil partner. There used to be a requirement to live together in another EU member state first (as the same household) but this no longer applies. In fact, if an extended family member is genuinely dependent on an EEA national, he/she does not need to have ever lived together with him/her.

Extended family members don’t gain the rights automatically, they must apply for a ‘visa stamp’ to get their rights confirmed.   

 

ADVICE:

The above is a simplified summary, for an individual advice please book our Advice Session (over email by the  next working day or face-to-face at our office).

Examples on the issues we can advise during the session: can you work in the UK, can you work on a 6 months Family Permit, can you work while waiting for an EEA Residence Card (a process which often takes up to 6 months), what if your relationship/marriage ends, what if your EEA family member leaves the UK or stops working, can you travel outside the UK and come back, can you apply if you are a visitor (tourist) in the UK, does it matter if you are/were in the UK illegally, how much time can I spend outside the UK to qualify for Permanent Residency in the future and many others.

 

IF YOUR FAMILY MEMBER IS AN EU/EEA NATIONAL (but not Croatian):

If you are a non-EU national and you are already in the UK: you can apply for an EEA Residence Card. It is for 5 years and allows to work. It takes up to 6 months to process an application  Your EEA family member has to be ‘exercising Treaty rights’, such as working or studying or being self-employed or a jobseeker or retired or self-sufficient.

If you are a non-EU national, you are outside the UK and you would not normally need a visitor visa to come to the UK (if you are from Australia, Brazil, US, Canada and so on): you can come to the UK without a visa. Once here you can apply for a 5 year EEA Residence Card as above.

If you are a non-EU national, you are outside the UK and you would normally need a visitor visa to come to the UK (if you are from India, Ukraine, Algeria and so on): you can apply for an EEA Family Permit at a visa application centre (or British Embassy as applicable). It is issued for 6 months. Once in the UK you can apply for an EEA Residence Card as above.

 

IF YOUR FAMILY MEMBER IS CROATIAN:

Your status would depend on what a Croatian family member is doing in the UK:

If he/she is holding a Purple Registration Certificate then you can apply for a Family Member Residence Stamp. Once he/she has worked for 12 months you can apply for an EEA Residence Card for 5 years.

If he/she is self-employed, studying or holding a Yellow/Blue Registration Certificate, or has worked for more than 12 months on the Accession Worker Card, you can apply for an EEA Residence Card for 5 years.

 

PERMANENT RESIDENCE:

You can normally apply for a Permanent Residence Card after 5 years of living in the UK in accordance with the European regulations. Extended family members must make an application (permanent residence or extension). However, (direct) family members don’t have to apply and can apply straight for British Citizenship (a common type of applications we work with).

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