What is the Surinder Singh Route?
Before Brexit, free movement rights across the EU meant that British citizens were able to live and work in the EU without restrictions. For those who had families living in the EU relocating back to the UK was not an issue. However, free movement officially ended on the 31st December 2020, which means that returning to the UK with EU family members has become more complex.
The Surinder Singh route forms part of the EU Settlement Scheme, this is an immigration scheme intended to protect the rights of EU and EEA citizens who were living in the UK prior to the end of free movement. The Surinder Singh route is a UK immigration route for those who have lived outside the UK in an EEA member state with a British citizen.
Whilst the EU settlement scheme is mainly targeted towards EU citizens who were living in the UK before free movement rights ended, the Surinder Singh Route means that the EU settlement scheme can also be used by the family members of a qualifying British citizen who were living in the EU before Brexit. The Surinder Singh route allows the spouses and dependents of a British citizen who was living in the EU before the end of free movement to apply for leave to remain in the UK.
The Surinder Singh case
The Surinder Singh was established by a case at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Surinder Singh was an Indian citizen who had been living with his British wife in Germany, under UK immigration law he was granted leave to remain in the UK and was able to relocate with his wife.
However, when they divorced attempts were made by the UK government to remove Mr Singh from the country on the basis that he no longer had leave to remain, he then challenged this decision at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The European court decided that Mr Singh has a right to live in the UK because his wife had exercised her own right to freedom of movement when working in Germany. The Court ruled that an EU citizen who exercises their treaty rights by going to work in another Member State has the right to return with their non-EEA spouse, children and other dependants, regardless of their nationality.
Who is eligible for the Surinder Singh route?
To use the Surinder Singh Visa route you must be the family member of a qualifying British citizen. Family members eligible for this route include a spouse, parent, grandparent or child of a British citizen. You will need to provide proof of this family relationship when applying.
To be classed as a qualifying British citizen the British person must have been “exercising treaty rights” as a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or student in an EEA country before returning to the UK.
The family member applying for UK residency under the Surinder Singh route must have lived with the qualifying British citizen whilst they were in an EEA country, you will need to demonstrate genuine residence in the UK, this means that the residence cannot have been an attempt to circumvent the UK immigration rules. The family relationship must also have existed during the residence in the EEA country and you will need to demonstrate that family life was created or strengthened during your joint residence with your British citizen family member.
How to apply for the Surinder Singh route?
To apply for this route both the applicant and British citizen must be returning to the UK before 2300 GMT on 29 March 2022.
To apply for entry under the Surinder Singh route you will need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit. You must apply online at the gov.uk website for the permit and you will need to be outside the UK at the time of your application.
As part of your application, you will need to prove your identity by submitting either a valid passport or a valid national identity card, if you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
As well as this you and your British family member will need to provide evidence that you lived together in an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein before 31st December 2020. You will need to submit documents that show that you lived together in that country, your addresses, the time spent living at each address and any proof of renting or buying a home.
You will also need to provide proof that the British family member working, self-employed, self-sufficient or studying in the country that you lived together, to do this you can submit documents such as wage slips, contracts, bank statements or proof of enrolment to study.
Applicants applying as dependent relatives of a British citizen are required to submit evidence of their dependency as part of the application.
How long can I stay in the UK on the Surinder Singh Route?
If you are granted an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit then this will allow you to come and go from the UK for either 4 or 6 months, the validity of the permit depends on when it is granted.
You can stay in the UK after your permit expires by applying for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You will usually need to apply for this within 3 months of arriving in the UK. After living in the UK for 5 years with the pre-settled status you can apply for settled status. This grants you permanent residence in the UK.
Once you have held settled status for 12 months you could also be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
How can IAS help?
If you need legal advice about whether you are eligible to enter the UK using the Surinder Singh route, we can help. Our expert immigration lawyers will assess whether your sponsor was officially “exercising treaty rights” while in Europe and advise you on whether you qualify for the route.
We will maximise your chance of a successful application by performing a thorough document check, professionally completing your application and producing a tailored Letter of Representation. This Letter of Representation will detail the merits of your application, reference supporting documentary evidence and cite applicable immigration law.
You can speak with our London, Manchester, or Birmingham immigration lawyers, or use the office finder to find your nearest branch. Contact us free on 0333 363 8577 or use our online contact form to speak with an immigration lawyer about your Surinder Singh application or enquiry.
Last modified on February 14th, 2023 at 1:45 pm
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To be eligible to enter the UK under the Surinder Singh route, you must apply for an EEA Family Permit. You must also have lived in an EEA country with a recognised British Citizen as part of the family. The British member of the family can be your:
- Grandparent; (if you are under 21 years old and dependent on them) (or)
- Your child or grandchild (if you depend on them).
While living in Europe, the British citizen must have been “exercising treaty rights”. This means that they were either working, studying, genuinely seeking work or supporting themselves financially.
As of February 2017, the right of appeal for visa applications made using the Surinder Singh route was curtailed. This means that, if your application is refused, there is no way for you to appeal the refusal. As a result, it is highly advisable that, if you are considering entering the UK using this route, you seek the help of an immigration lawyer. Our lawyers ensure that your application has been completed properly and that your chances of success are therefore maximised.
Since the triggering of article 50 on 28 March 2017, the laws surrounding Surinder Singh cases have been in a constant state of flux. Our highly-experienced lawyers at IAS are able to keep up with ever-changing EU laws. We can advise you carefully if you make an application to enter the UK using the Surinder Singh route.
Our services include:
- Assessing whether your sponsor was officially “exercising treaty rights” while in Europe and advising upon if you qualify for Surinder Singh;
- Evaluating your supporting documents to ensure that they are sufficient for your application;
- producing a Letter of Representation which outlines the merits of your application, references supporting documentary evidence and cites applicable immigration law;
- Completing each part of your application form to the highest standard
- Liaising with the Home Office during your application process.
Contact us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to speak with one of our immigration consultants about your Surinder Singh application or enquiry.