EEA Family Visa

Any citizen of an EU country taking up residence in the UK in accordance with EU treaty rights is entitled to bring their family with them. ‘Family’ includes a spouse, children under 21 years and any other family members who are part of the same household and remain dependent upon the EU citizen.

The main advantage of this type of visa is that there are no work restrictions on the holder of the permit or their dependants.

This type of visa can lead to permanent residence in the UK.

Want to find out if you qualify for a EEA Family visa?

Talk to our experts and get the right advice first time, every time.

Who is an EEA Family Permit suitable for?

The permit is suitable for a non-EEA national who is:

  • The spouse or civil partner of an EEA or Swiss national;
  • A descendant (child or grandchild) of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner under 21 years of age;
  • A dependent descendant (child or grandchild) of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner aged 21 and over;
  • A dependant relative in the ascending line (i.e. parents or grandparents) of an EEA or Swiss national or his/her spouse or civil partner.

EEA Family Permit requirements

EEA Family Permit applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  • The EEA-national partner must be exercising his or her Treaty rights in the UK – i.e. self-employment, study, employment;
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must either be legally married to each other (married couples) or be able to provide evidence of living together within the most recent two years (unmarried couples);
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must have met already;
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must demonstrate intent to live together;
  • The non-EEA family member and the EEA national must be travelling to the UK together, or the EEA national should already be in the UK;
  • The family unit must not be dependent on public funds whilst in the United Kingdom.

How to qualify for EEA Family Visa

All non-EU members of the family accompanying the EU citizen to the UK can apply for an EEA Family Permit.

Non-EU family members’ right to remain in the UK are dependent on the EU family member continuing to exercise Treaty Rights in the UK, for example in employment, in business, or by being economically self-sufficient.

Within the first 6 months of arrival in the UK, the EU National is advised to apply to the Home Office for an EU Residence Permit, and all non-EU family members should apply at the same time for five-year resident stamps to be placed in their passports.

EEA Family Permits and Unmarried Partners

An unmarried partner can be considered for a family permit as an extended family member if they are in a ‘durable relationship’ with the EEA national and would satisfy similar criteria to those in place for the unmarried partner visa – i.e. that the parties have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has subsisted for at least 2 years.

Working rules and restrictions

If the EEA national is a qualified person in the UK then their non-EEA family members are entitled to work in the UK without restriction.

Making your EEA Family Permit application

Non-EU family members must apply to a British Diplomatic Post overseas prior to travelling to the UK. Note that if you are already in the UK it is not necessary to return home to your country of lawful residence in order to obtain an EEA family permit.

How long is an EEA Family Permit valid for?

An EEA Family Permit for the EEA-national partner is usually issued for a period of 6 months. During this 6 months the EEA-national partner is expected to apply for a Residence Permit.
An EEA Family Permit for the non-EEA family member is usually issued for a period of 5 years, after which the non-EEA family member can make an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (also known as ‘permanent residence’).

EEA Family Permits and Indefinite Leave to Remain

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain may be made by all family members (including the EU citizen) after 5 years residence in the UK provided that the necessary permissions have been obtained in the meantime.

EEA Nationals and Permanent Residence

EEA nationals who wish to apply for British Nationality will first need to apply for a document confirming they are free from immigration time restrictions and present this document as part of the application for nationality.
EEA nationals will have acquired permanent residence under the EEA regulations 2006 on the basis of 5 years continuous years residence in the UK will need to show they have completed a further 12 months of residence in the UK free of immigration time restrictions when applying for British Nationality.

Permanent Residence

An application for confirmation of the right to permanently reside in the UK may be made by all family members, including the EU citizen, usually after five years residence in the UK, provided that the EU national has exercised Treaty rights throughout this period.