Making an EEA Family Residence Permit Application Out-Of-Country
The European Economic Area (EEA) family permit scheme can be used by non-EEA citizens to join EEA family members living in the UK. It should be noted that this is different from the EU Settlement Scheme family permit, which is designed for non-EEA nationals to join close family members from the EEA in the UK who already have citizenship or settled status.
The EEA family permit exists because the Free Movement of Persons Directive (2004/38/EC) requires member states, including the UK, to provide entry visas for family members of EEA nationals from outside of the EEA.
EEA family permit must be applied for out-of-country
The immigration rules relating to the EEA family permit states that it is possible to apply if you are a) from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), and that b) you are outside the UK. As such, the expectation is that as you are applying for entry to the UK based on your relationship to an EEA national living in the UK, you should not apply in-country.
The application process for EEA family permits is completed online.
Who can apply for an EEA family permit?
On face value, the eligibility criteria for an EEA family permit are rather broad, as it allows direct and extended family members to apply. Direct family members include:
- spouse and civil partners
- direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner who are under 21 years of age and dependants of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner
- dependent direct relatives in the ascending line (e.g. parent, grandparent) of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner
- non-EEA citizens who have lived in another EEA country with an eligible family member who’s a British citizen (this is referred to as the Surinder Singh route).
Extended family members include:
- relatives such as brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, or nieces
- unmarried partners in a durable relationship (i.e. have been together for two years in a relationship that is similar to marriage)
- persons who are entitled to a derivative right of residence under regulation 16, this means that you are either a:
- primary carer of an EEA child in the UK who is financially independent, or;
- a child of an EEA former worker and you’re currently in education in the UK, or;
- a primary carer of a child of an EEA former worker and the child is currently in education in the UK, or;
- a primary carer of a British child, or;
- a primary carer of a British dependent adult, or;
- a child of a primary carer who qualifies through one of these categories
You may also be able to apply as a family member of an EEA national student if you are either their spouse or civil partner, dependent child (or the dependent child of their spouse or civil partner).
This area of immigration law is relatively complex due to the cross over between UK and EEA legislation. As such, if you are unsure if you do qualify as a direct or extended family member of an EEA national living in the UK, then it is advisable to seek the guidance of immigration Solicitors who will be able to advise you.
See also: Getting Assistance in Applying for an EEA Family Permit
Does the EEA national I am joining need to be in the UK already?
According to the immigration rules, the EEA citizen you are applying to join through the EEA family permit scheme must either already be in the UK or will be travelling with you to the UK within six months of the date of application. If the person you are joining has already been in the UK for three or more months, they must:
- fit the definition of a ‘qualified person’, meaning that they are working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient, or;
- have a permanent residence document
If your EEA family member is not a ‘qualified person’, then it may be possible to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit, as long as they are a settled person (i.e. they are a British citizen, have EU pre-settled or settled status, or have acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain).
What evidence is needed to support an application for an EEA family visa?
The documents and evidence which must be provided to the Home Office to support an EEA family visa vary depending on the circumstances of the applicant and the EEA family member in the UK. You may need to provide:
- a valid passport
- evidence of your relationship to your EEA family member; e.g. a marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, birth certificate, or proof of living together for two years if you are not married
- the passport or national identity card of your family member’s valid passport or (or a certified copy if it is not possible to supply an original)
- proof of your dependency if you’re dependent on your EEA family member
If the EEA family member has been in the UK for more than three months, the applicant must also provide the following evidence of:
- permanent residence
- working – this may include an employment contract, wage slips or a letter from an employer
- self-employment – this may include contracts, invoices or audited accounts with bank statements, or tax and national insurance records
- studying – this may include a letter from the school, college or university
- being financially independent
Any documents which are not written in English must be translated.
While only valid for six months, the EEA family permit does allow holders to leave and enter the UK as many times as they wish during that period. The wide scope allows not just close family members but also extended family members such as nieces and nephews to come to the UK to spend time with their EEA family members. Once in the UK, you may then be able to apply for EU pre-settled status, and then after five years in the UK, full EU settled status. It is advisable to engage the guidance of an immigration adviser when you are in the UK and are considering remaining permanently. An immigration lawyer will assess your best options for permanent settlement and create a roadmap to follow.
Related Article: Read also ‘What is the fate of family members of EU Nationals after Brexit?’