EEA FAMILY MEMBERS/ EEA Family Permits

If you are a non-EEA national living outside the European Union and you would like to travel to the UK with your EEA national family member, or join your EEA national family member in the UK, then you may be eligible for an EEA Family Permit.

An EEA Family Permit is similar to the issue of an entry clearance visa for the UK in that it will enable you to enter the UK as the family member of an EEA national.  

Requirements for an EEA Family Permit: initial right of residence in the UK

In order to qualify for an EEA Family Permit you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are a national of a country that is outside the European Economic Area (EEA);
  • Your family member is an EEA national (but not British);
  • You are related to an EEA national in one of the following ways:
  • You are the family member of an EEA national such as the husband, wife, civil or unmarried partner, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild;  or
  • You are an extended family member of an EEA national, for example an unmarried partner in a durable relationship, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc.; or
  • You are the main carer of a British citizen or a child who is an EEA national;
  • Your EEA national family member is travelling with you to the UK; or
  • Your EEA national family member is in the UK and, if they have lived in the UK for more than three months, is exercising Treaty rights as a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or as a jobseeker.

Period of Validity

An EEA Family Permit is valid for six months and will allow you to leave and re-enter the UK as many times as you wish within the six month validity period.

Before the end of the six month period, you may be eligible to apply for an EEA Residence Card as confirmation of your right of residence in the UK.

EEA Residence Cards

EEA Residence Cards are issued to non-EEA national family members and extended family members of EEA nationals who are exercising Treaty rights in the United Kingdom. EEA Residence Cards confirm a right of residence in the UK.

There is no legal requirement to obtain a Residence Card because the right of residence exists as a matter of European Union law. However, a Residence Card acts as confirmation of your right of residence in the UK and this will make it easier to re-enter the UK and to prove that you have a right to work in the UK, for example.

EEA Permanent Residence Cards

If you are a family member of an EEA national and you have lived in the UK continuously for five years then you may be eligible to apply for an EEA Permanent Residence Card. EEA Permanent Residence Cards confirm a right of permanent residence in the UK.

Requirements for an EEA Permanent Residence Card: permanent right of residence in the UK

In order to qualify for an EEA Permanent Residence Card you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You have lived in the UK continuously for five years with your EEA family member; and
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than six months in any one year; and
  • Your EEA family member has been exercising Treaty rights as a worker, self-employed person, student or self-sufficient person throughout the five year period.

Retained rights of residence

You may also apply for an EEA Permanent Residence Card on the basis of having a ‘retained right of residence’. It is possible for a non-EEA national to retain a right of permanent residence where:

  • You have lived in the UK continuously for five years in accordance with the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006; and
  • You were, at the end of that five year period, a family member who has retained a right of residence.

EEA Registration Certificates

If you are a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and wish to prove that you have the right to live and work in the UK, then you may be eligible to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate.  

There is no legal requirement to obtain a Registration Certificate in order to live and work in the UK because the right of residence exists as a matter of European Union law.  However, a Registration Certificate acts as confirmation of your right of residence in the UK and this may make it easier to obtain various services.  A Registration Certificate can also be used to support a family member’s application for an EEA Family Permit or EEA Residence Card.

Requirements for an EEA Registration Certificate: right of residence in the UK

In order to qualify for an EEA Registration Certificate you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are a citizen of an EEA country (this includes: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and, for immigration purposes, Switzerland);
  • You are working (either in employment or as a self-employed person), studying or are able to support yourself financially and have comprehensive sickness cover.

EEA Documents Certifying Permanent Residence

If you are a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country who has lived in the UK for five years, during which time you have been working, studying or supporting yourself financially, then you may be eligible to apply for a Document Certifying Permanent Residence to confirm that you are entitled to stay in the UK indefinitely.

Requirements for an EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence: right of permanent residence in the UK

In order to qualify for an EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are a citizen of an EEA country (this includes: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and, for immigration purposes, Switzerland);
  • You have lived in the UK continuously for five years and have not been absent from the UK for more than six months in any one year;
  • You have exercised Treaty rights in the UK throughout the five year period either as an employee, self-employed person, student, self-sufficient person or as a jobseeker.

EEA Derivative Residence Cards

If you are the primary carer of a child who has the right to reside in the UK then you may be eligible for an EEA Derivative Residence Card.  You can also qualify for an EEA Derivative Residence Card as the child of an EEA national worker or as the child of a primary carer.

Requirements for an EEA Derivative Residence Card as a Primary Carer

In order to qualify for an EEA Derivative Residence Card as a primary carer, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are the primary carer of an EEA national who is under the age of 18, who is living in the UK as a self-sufficient person and would be unable to remain in the UK if you are required to leave the UK; or
  • You are the primary carer of a British citizen who is residing in the UK and who would be unable to live in the UK or another EEA country if you were required to leave the UK; or
  • You are the primary carer of a child of an EEA national worker or former worker who is in education in the UK and who would be unable to continue their education if you were required to leave;

You will be considered a primary carer if you are the person’s direct relative (e.g. mother or father) and you either (a) have primary responsibility for that person’s care; or (b) you share equal responsibility for that person’s care with one other person who is not entitled to reside in the UK under the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 and does not have leave to enter or remain in the UK.