EEA Nationals & Families

EEA citizens and Swiss nationals are free to live, work and study in the UK without needing permission from the Home Office.

If you are citizen of one of Accession state countries, you might need to apply for a registration certificate to be allowed to work in the UK. The type of registration certificate you might need will depend on; whether you need permission to work in the UK and what you’ll be doing.

The rights of dependants are complicated and recent changes in the way that the UK implements EEA law have made it far less straightforward than in previous times.

Prove your right to live and work

  • You can apply for a registration certificate if you’re a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and want to prove your right to live or work in the UK.
  • You need a registration certificate if you’re an extended family member of an EEA national.

You don’t need a registration certificate if you:

  • are a ‘qualified person’ i.e. you’re working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for work
  • have a ‘family member’ who is a qualified person
  • have a retained right of residence

However, a registration certificate can:

  • make it easier to claim certain benefits and services
  • prove you have a right to work in the UK

The different types of applications

Apply as a qualified person

You have automatic right to live and work in the UK if you are an EEA or Swiss national. When you are in the UK as a ‘qualified person’ and you wish to prove your right of residence, then apply for a registration certificate which is valid for 5 years.

A ‘qualified person’ is an EEA national who is in the UK as a:

  • worker
  • self-employed person
  • self-sufficient person
  • student
  • jobseeker

Apply as an ‘extended family member’

If the qualified person isn’t in your close family (e.g. spouse or parent), then you can apply as an ‘extended family member’.

You’re an extended family member if you’re their (or their spouse or civil partner’s):

  • brother or sister
  • cousin
  • aunt or uncle
  • niece or nephew

You must also either:

  • have lived in the same house as them before and after coming to the UK
  • have a serious medical condition that means you need their personal care

Apply as a ‘family member of a student’

If your family member is a qualified person because they’re a student, you can apply if you’re:

  • their spouse or civil partner
  • their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent child
  • Apply as an ‘extended family member of a student’

Apply as an unmarried partner

  • You can apply as an ‘extended family member’ if you’re the unmarried partner of a qualified person or student. You must show you’re in a lasting relationship when you Getting permanent residence.

Apply for a derivative residence card

You’re eligible for a derivative residence card if you’re living in the UK and you’re one of the following:

  • the primary carer of someone who has the right to live in the UK
  • the primary carer’s child
  • the child of a former European Economic Area (EEA) worker and you’re studying.
  • being a ‘primary carer’ means you’re someone’s main carer, or you share the responsibility with someone else, and you’re their direct relative or legal guardian
  • You can’t apply if you’re outside the UK, apply for family permit

Apply for Retained rights of residence

You can apply for an EEA family permit if you previously had a right to reside in the UK as the family member of an EEA national who either:

  • had permanent right of residence in the UK
  • was a ‘qualified person’ (ie a worker, student, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or someone looking for work) in the UK

You could have a retained right of residence if:

  • your, or another member of your family’s, marriage or civil partnership to that person has ended (with a divorce, annulment or dissolution)
  • that person has died and you had lived in the UK for at least 1 year before they died
  • you’re the child of an EEA national who has died or left the UK, or the child of their spouse or civil partner, or former spouse or civil partner, you were in education when that person died or left the UK, and you continue to be in education
  • you’re the parent and have custody of a child who has a retained right of residence because they’re in education in the UK
  • You must also meet other requirements to be eligible for a retained right of residence.

Please Note: The above are basic and generic informations, there are other eligibility requirements for each category which you need to fulfil at the time of application. We strongly advise you to read the Rules and Guidance for each category before you process your application.

How long you can stay

  • Once your application is approved as a qualified person or their family member, you will be issued card valid for 5 years.
  • You can apply for a document certifying permanent residence if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years as a qualified person.
  • You can also apply if you’re the family member of a qualified person, or you have a retained right of residence. You must have lived in the UK for 5 years.
  • In some cases you can get permanent residence if you’ve lived in the UK for fewer than 5 years.

How long you can stay

  • Once your application is approved as a qualified person or their family member, you will be issued card valid for 5 years.
  • You can apply for a document certifying permanent residence if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years as a qualified person.
  • You can also apply if you’re the family member of a qualified person, or you have a retained right of residence. You must have lived in the UK for 5 years.
  • In some cases you can get permanent residence if you’ve lived in the UK for fewer than 5 years.

How can we help you?

The rights of dependants are complicated and recent changes in the way that the UK implements EEA law have made it far less straightforward than in previous times, which is why legal advice before starting the process is important. We will;

  • discuss your case with you.
  • advise you the best possible solutions.
  • collect all the relevant documents together.
  • prepare your application along with our submissions.
  • submit your application to the relevant authority.
  • communicate with the authority on your behalf until a decision is made.
If you would like to know more about any of these areas of law, simply call us on 0161 835 1607 or complete our online enquiry form.