EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit - Can I Still Apply for EEA (FM) after Brexit
Much has changed in the UK since the start of 2021 as a result of Brexit. Unfettered trade and customs between the EU and the UK have ended, as has freedom of movement for citizens on both sides. Instead, there is more onerous red tape and restrictions in place, forming a barrier for both people and businesses. From an immigration standpoint, it is still possible for EU and EEA nationals living in the UK to apply for settled status under the EU Settled Status scheme (EUSS), but only for those who were already living here before the end of 2020 and make their application before the end of June 2021. But what about non-EU partner's and close family members of EU nationals living in the UK, can they still apply for an EEA family permit? In this article, we will discuss whether it is still possible for non-EU/EEA nationals with EU/EEA family members living in the UK to apply for an EEA family member (FM) permit.
What is the EEA family permit scheme?
Before we discuss the implications of Brexit on the EEA family permit, it is worth clarifying what this scheme covers. The EEA family permit allows non-EEA nationals to come to the UK by virtue of their close family relationship to an EU/EEA national living here. You may also be able to apply for a permit if you:
- if you are the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss dependant, the primary carer's child, or the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who previously worked in the UK – this is referred to as a 'derivative right of residence'
- if you can make a 'Surinder Singh' application after living in an EEA country with a British family member
- if you have the right to stay in the UK as the family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has died, left the UK or is no longer your spouse or civil partner – this is referred to as a 'retained right of residence'
The scheme is open to the following non-EEA family members with EEA family living in the UK:
- spouse or civil partners
- unmarried partners in a lasting relationship
- children or grandchildren aged under 21
- dependent children or grandchildren of any age
- dependent parents or grandparents
The EEA family member must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020, and working, looking for work, studying or self-sufficient, and have a right of permanent residence here. If your family member already has pre-settled or settled status in the UK, then you should apply for the EUSS family permit instead.
With an EEA family permit, you will be able to stay in the UK for up to six months.
Can I still apply for an EEA family permit?
Yes, the scheme is currently still open for applications, but these will come to an end from 30 June 2021. The guidance from the Home Office advises applicants, "The EEA family permit is ending. After 30 June 2021, they will no longer be valid, and no new applications will be accepted". There is one major caveat, however; your close family relationship must have started by 31 December 2020.
Another key consideration is that even though you can still apply for an EEA family permit, the latest guidance now states, "EEA family permits are usually valid for six months. However, they will not be valid after 30 June 2021, even if there is time left on the permit".
What can I do if I am in the UK on an EEA family permit to extend my stay beyond 30 June 2021?
If you are currently in the UK on an EEA family permit, or you will be soon, you can apply under the EU Settled Status scheme before the end of June 2021. As the current immigration guidance confirms, " If your eligible family member was living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living here after your family permit runs out. If they came to the UK on or after 1 January 2021, you'll usually need to apply for a visa to live, work or study". It is vitally important that if you are in this situation, you make your application before the end of June 2021, as this is the hard cut-off date for all EUSS applications. If granted, you will be given pre-settled status, which will allow you to stay in the UK for up to five years; after five years in the UK, you can apply for full settled status. With settled status, you will be allowed to stay in the UK indefinitely. With pre-settled or settled status, you will be able to:
- work in the UK
- use the NHS for free, if you can at the moment
- enrol in education or study in the UK
- access public funds such as benefits and pensions
- travel in and out of the UK
You will not, however, be able to bring your own family members to the UK under the EUSS if you arrived after the end of 2021.
After one year of holding full settled status, you will then be able to apply for and acquire British citizenship.
The EEA family permit offers a potential gateway for non-EEA nationals to join EEA national family members living in the UK, but the scheme will come to an end on 30 June 2021. It is vitally important you apply under the EUSS before this date to ensure your right to remain in the UK. If you are unsure of the process or wish to clarify your position, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to assist you.