EEA Family Permits

An EEA Family Permit makes it possible for family members who are not EEA nationals to travel or join them in the United Kingdom. According to this immigration category EEA Family Permit holders are able to enter the United Kingdom and live and work there on the basis of them being a dependent of a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Who is an EEA Family Permit suitable for?

The permit is suitable for a non-EEA national who is:

  • The spouse or civil partner of an EEA or Swiss national;
  • A descendant (child or grandchild) of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner under 21 years of age;
  • A dependent descendant (child or grandchild) of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner aged 21 and over;
  • A dependant relative in the ascending line (i.e. parents or grandparents) of an EEA or Swiss national or his/her spouse or civil partner.

EEA Family Permit requirements

EEA Family Permit applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  • The EEA-national partner must be exercising his or her Treaty rights in the UK - i.e. self-employment, study, employment;
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must either be legally married to each other (married couples) or be able to provide evidence of living together within the most recent two years (unmarried couples);
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must have met already;
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must demonstrate intent to live together;
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must be travelling to the UK together, or the EEA national should already be in the UK;
  • The family unit must not be dependent on public funds whilst in the United Kingdom.

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EEA Family Permits and Unmarried Partners

An unmarried partner can be considered for a family permit as an extended family member if they are in a 'durable relationship' with the EEA national and would satisfy similar criteria to those in place for the unmarried partner visa - i.e. that the parties have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has subsisted for at least 2 years.

Working rules and restrictions

If the EEA national is a qualified person in the UK then their non-EEA family members are entitled to work in the UK without restriction.

Making your EEA Family Permit application

Non-EU family members must apply to a British Diplomatic Post overseas prior to travelling to the UK. Note that if you are already in the UK it is not necessary to return home to your country of lawful residence in order to obtain an EEA family permit.

How long is an EEA Family Permit valid for?

An EEA Family Permit for the EEA-national partner is usually issued for a period of 6 months. During this 6 months the EEA-national partner is expected to apply for a Residence Permit.

An EEA Family Permit for the non-EEA family member is usually issued for a period of 5 years, after which the non-EEA family member can make an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (also known as 'permanent residence').

EEA Family Permits and Indefinite Leave to Remain

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain may be made by all family members (including the EU citizen) after 5 years residence in the UK provided that the necessary permissions have been obtained in the meantime.

EEA Nationals and Permanent Residence

EEA nationals who wish to apply for British Nationality will first need to apply for a document confirming they are free from immigration time restrictions and present this document as part of the application for nationality.

EEA nationals will have acquired permanent residence under the EEA regulations 2006 on the basis of 5 years continuous years residence in the UK will need to show they have completed a further 12 months of residence in the UK free of immigration time restrictions when applying for British Nationality.

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