EEA Family Permit

If you’re an EEA national and 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 EEA member states easier for non-EEA family members. Whilst some other visa types may afford non-European family members of EEA nationals similar rights depending on eligibility, an EEA Family Permit can be applied for from outside of the UK, and is also often considered to be less difficult to obtain, making the Family Permit a more viable and practical option for most people who meet the eligibility criteria.

Who Is Eligible for an EEA Family Permit?

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. As the rules governing EEA family permits are stipulated by European Law, applicants who are children of an EEA national may be up to 21 years of age, rather than the UK legal classification of a child. It may also be possible to bring dependent parents, grandparents and extended family such as siblings and cousins to live in the UK using an EEA Family Permit, although where the EEA national is a student they may only be joined by their partner and/or dependent children. You must also meet the eligibility requirements of being from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the family member in question must be an EEA national.

Generally, the criteria for an EEA Family Permit caters for the following:

  • Spouses/Civil Partners
  • Partners cohabiting for at least 2 years
  • Children under the age of 21

And in certain circumstances:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • Cousins

What is a Surinder Singh Application?

If you have lived in another EEA country other than the UK with a family member who is a British citizen then you may be eligible to make what’s known as a ‘Surinder Singh’ application. In order to successfully apply down this route, the British family member must be your spouse/civil partner, parent or grandparent where you are dependent upon them, or your child or grandchild where they are dependent upon you. You must also prove that you meet the eligibility criteria for the EEA country where you’re currently residing, and that this has been your main residence for both you and your family member. If your British family member has returned to the UK, you may still be able to make a Surinder Singh application for an EEA Family Permit, however there is an additional criterion that will need to be met. Of they have been back in the UK for over 3 months, your British family member will also have to prove that they have been working, self employed, studying, self-sufficient or looking for work during the time that they have been back in the UK.

What is the Process?

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, which is usually done through application for an EEA Residence Card. The EEA 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.

How Long Does an EEA Family Permit Last?

Upon successful application, an EEA Family Permit will be issued to you and will usually remain valid for a period of 5 years. After this time, the non-EEA family member will then be eligible to apply for permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK.

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