What is an EEA Family Permit?
The EEA Family Permit is a form of Entry Clearance that enables a non-EEA national to join their EEA family member in the UK. Whilst not technically a visa, the permit functions in a similar way. Once successfully obtained, the permit will enable you to leave and re-enter the UK as many times as you please.
The permit can only be applied for from outside of the UK. If you satisfy the eligibility requirements, you will able to travel to the UK with your EEA family member. You will also be able to join your family member in the UK if they have already relocated there. However, if they have been there for three months or longer, they will have to demonstrate that they have been exercising their treaty rights.
What documents will I need to successfully apply for an EEA Family Permit?
There are number of different documents that you need to provide when applying for the permit. As part of the application process, it is necessary that you prove your dependency on your EEA family member.
The documents needed for your application are:
- A valid passport
- The valid passport or national identity card of your EEA family member (you are permitted to provide certified copies if the originals cannot be accessed)
- Proof of your relationship to your EEA family member. This can take the form of a birth certificate, a marriage /civil partnership certificate or proof that you have lived together for at least two years if you are unmarried.
Am I eligible to apply for an EEA Family Permit?
In order to apply for this form of Entry Clearance, you must be from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). In addition, you must be a family member or ‘extended’ family member of an EEA citizen.
There are also other ways one can be eligible. These are:
- Derivative right of residence: this means that you are the caregiver of a person who has the right to reside in the UK, the child of the caregiver, or the child of an EEA national who formerly worked in the UK.
- The ‘Surinder Singh’ route: this is open to non-EEA nationals who have lived in a different EEA country with their British family member
- Retained right of residence: you are able to remain in the UK as the family member of an EEA national who has died, left the country, or is no longer your spouse/civil partner.
How long will my EEA Family Permit be valid for?
If you successfully obtain an EEA Family Permit, it will be valid for an initial six months. You will be permitted to leave and re-enter the UK as many times as you wish and without any restrictions during this timeframe. Once this six-month period comes to an end, you can apply to extend your permit for up to five years.
Is it possible to apply as an extended family member?
If you are the extended family member of an EEA citizen, such as an aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, or niece, it is possible to obtain a permit if you are able to show that you are dependent on them. You will also be able to obtain a permit if you can demonstrate that you are a member of their household or have a serious health issue and rely on them for care.
It is also possible to apply if you are an unmarried partner, providing that you can demonstrate that your relationship is both genuine and subsisting.
I am a family member of an EEA citizen. How do I apply for a permit?
When applying for a permit as a family member of an EEA citizen, you must meet the ‘qualifying family member’ criteria. This involves evidencing that you are either:
- The spouse of civil partner of the EEA citizen
- The child or grandchild of the EEA citizen or their spouse or civil partner (must be under the age of 21), or dependent child or grandchild of any age
- A dependent parent or grandparent
Will I need a residence card once in the UK?
If you successfully obtain a permit, you are given six months to travel to the UK with your EEA family member. Once in the UK, you will be able to apply for an EEA residence card, albeit this is not a legal requirement.
However, it is beneficial in that it proves your right to live in the UK, something useful if you are concerned about your status post-Brexit. It also makes it easier to transition into a permanent resident after five years.
Does my EEA family member need to be living in the UK when I apply?
When you commence your application for an EEA Family Permit, your EEA family member must be either already living in the UK or planning to travel to the UK with you within six months of applying. With this in mind, it is not essential that they are living in the UK on the date you make your application. However, in situations where they have lived in the UK for more than three months, they must have a permanent right of residence or be deemed a ‘qualified person’.
This is gained through being one of the following:
- Self-employed and paying both tax and national insurance
- Financially independent
Will I be able to remain in the UK once my permit expires?
There are a number of circumstances in which a permit holder can remain in the UK even after it has expired. These are:
- If you are the family member of an EEA national
- If you are eligible for a ‘Surinder Singh’ application
- You possess a retained right of residence
- You possess a derivative right of residence
In order to demonstrate your right of residence, a residence card can be applied for. Whilst this is not a necessity, it makes it easier to prove your eligibility to live and work in the UK.
If you are an extended family member, you must apply for a residence card once your family permit expires.
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The EEA Family Permit is currently free of charge.
If you are from outside the EEA but have been living in an EEA country (other than the UK) with a British citizen, the Surinder Singh route may be open to you. The route enables you to move to the UK without having to satisfy the Home Office’s immigration rules.
To be eligible, the British citizen that you have been living with must be one of the following:
- Your spouse or civil partner
- Your parent or grandparent upon whom you are dependent
- Your dependent child or grandchild
You must be able to demonstrate that you meet the eligibility criteria of the EEA country in which you have been residing. You must also be able to prove that it has been the main residence of both you and your family member.
If your family member has moved back to the UK, you may still be able to join them via the Surinder Singh route. However, if they have been back in the UK for more than three months, they must be able to demonstrate that they have been exercising their treaty rights.
In order to apply for the permit, you must be related to an EEA national. The eligibility requirements vary depending on whether you are applying as a family member or extended family member. If you are applying as a family member, you must be the EEA national’s spouse, civil partner or dependent child or grandchild.
Because the rules are governed by European law rather than UK immigration laws, a child is classed as anyone up to the age of 21.
Parents, grandparents and children/grandchildren over the age of 21 are also able to apply, providing they can demonstrate that they are financially dependent on the EEA national.
Extended family members include siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and unmarried partners. All extended family members (apart from unmarried partners) must prove that they are dependent on the EEA national to be eligible. Unmarried partners need to prove that they have been in a genuine and subsisting relationship with the EEA national for at least two years.
At the Immigration Advice Service, we understand the immense importance of securing your future with your family. With this in mind, we do everything within our power to assist you with your EEA Family Permit application.
Our team of expert London immigration lawyers will guide you through the process step by step, keeping you informed of developments as they happen. We go the extra mile to maximise your chances of approval.
If you opt for our services, our legal team will:
- Maintain a frequent dialogue with the Home Office until a decision on your application is received
- Prepare a Letter of Representation that outlines the strengths of your application to the Home Office, drawing attention to relevant laws in support of your case
- Complete your application form to the highest possible standard
- Conduct a thorough document check to ensure that all necessary paperwork is in place
- Establish whether yourself and your family members are eligible for an EEA Family Permit application
- Liaise with you in person, over the phone or via Skype at a time that suits you