European Nationals & EEA Applications

If you are a national of a country that falls within the European Economic Area (EEA), or a national of Switzerland, you automatically have the right to live, work and study in the UK. As such you do not need to make an application for permission to enter or remain in the UK under the five-tier points-based system or otherwise.

The EEA comprises of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Although Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), their citizens have the same rights as EU citizens to enter, live and work in the UK. Further, Switzerland is not a member of the EEA but its nationals also have the same rights as EEA nationals.

As of 1 January 2014, Bulgarians and Romanians have acquired the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens. Whilst they gained the right to visa-free travel to the UK in 2007 when their countries joined the EU, there were temporary restrictions on the kind of jobs they could take. These have now been removed.

REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE – even with free movement, as an EEA national there are certain circumstances where you might want to apply for a registration certificate to confirm your rights of residence under European law.

EEA FAMILY PERMIT – if you have non-EEA family members who are subject to immigration control, they may need to apply for an EEA family permit before coming to the UK either on a temporary or long-term basis. An EEA family permit is a form of entry clearance to the UK and is designed to make movement around the member states easier for non-EEA family members.

The European law definition of a family member is considerably wider than under the UK Immigration Rules and includes spouses, civil partners, partners in a durable relationship (cohabited for at least 2 years) and children under 21 (the rules governing EEA family permits are stipulated by European Law). It may also be possible to bring dependent parents, grandparents and extended family such as siblings and cousins to live in the UK, although where the EEA national is a student they may only be joined by their partner and dependent children.

Immigrating to the UK as a family member of an eligible EEA national is a 2-stage process. The family member must first apply for entry clearance to classify as an eligible immigrant then once in the UK, the EEA family permit holder can apply to confirm their right of residence under European Law provided all other criteria are met. This residence card is usually valid for 5 years. After you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years with your EEA or Swiss national family member, you may be able to apply for confirmation of your right to permanent residence.

In order to remain in the UK, the EEA national must have exercised their treaty rights through employment, self-employment, self-sufficiency or study.

Whilst most EEA-based applications do not carry a fee they can still be complex and here at IAS we can advise as to whether you or a family member is eligible and help to prepare an application on your behalf.

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