EEA citizens and their families
Imperial & Legal provides assistance in applying for a confirmation of your residence status (registration certificate for you and a permit for your family members) and obtaining Permanent Residence for EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss citizens and visas for their family members.
Our services include:
- Advising on a list of required documents;
- Preparing and submitting a visa application;
- Supporting and working on your immigration case till you receive a UK citizenship.
With the Brexit underway, official status of EEA and Swiss citizens and their families haven’t been affected up until now. By March 2019, when the Brexit is finalised, status of EU citizens is expected to have been determined. However, even now we can say with a certainty that first it will be subject to special provisions and then general Immigration laws, maybe as a separate category.
We recommend our clients that are eligible to apply for an ILR under the existing rules for EEA and Swiss citizens to apply for it as soon as possible, and those that are not eligible yet, to confirm their right to reside in the UK.
EEA and Swiss citizens
A citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland is entitled to stay in the UK for the first 3 months after arrival with no restrictions. They are allowed to stay longer if you are qualified and you’re one of the following:
- Working in the UK
A EEA or Swiss citizen must work in the UK; half-time jobs are permitted. If they lose a job, they have 6 months to find another one, provided they are registered with a Jobcentre Plus. They are seen as complying with their contractual obligations in case of temporary incapacity through an illness or accident.
- Self-employed in the UK
EEA nationals must be registered with the HMRC as self-employed, pay income tax and social contributions, and annually submit their tax return.
- Studying in the UK
EEA nationals must be students in a licensed state or public educational establishment. They must also prove they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and a comprehensive sickness insurance.
EEA nationals must prove they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and a comprehensive sickness insurance not to become a burden on the UK’s social assistance system during their period of stay in the UK.
EEA nationals are usually given 6 months to find a job. However, they can be unemployed for more than 6 months, provided they can prove they are actively seeking for a job and there is a strong chance to find it. It can be proven by registration with a private or state agencies and relative correspondence.
Registration certificate for EEA and Swiss citizens
EEA and Swiss nationals are entitled to permanent residency in the UK if they comply with one of the above. They don’t need to obtain any special document to prove they can live and work in the UK. However, they can apply for a Registration Certificate as a confirmation that they fulfill their contractual obligations.
To obtain a certificate, they must provide an ID and proof of nationality together with the evidence for one of the above conditions.
Family members that are not EEA and Swiss nationals
Family members include spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, children under 21 years old and close relatives of previous generations (grandparents) if they are financially dependent on the main applicant. Other close relatives may be included among family members of a EEA national if they can prove they are financially dependent on them or have been living together before their arrival in the UK.
To live in the UK with a EEA national, non-EEA family members must apply for a family permit. They must provide evidence of their relations.
A type of the permit depends on where they have lived before the date of application.
- If non-EEA family members of a EEA national, residing outside the UK, want to come to the UK, they must go to their local British Embassy and apply for a Family Permit. It’s given for up to 6 months. In exceptional cases, this visa can be stamped in a passport at the UK border if a EEA and non-EEA members arrive together. They must submit all the required documents to a customs officer that will make a decision about your case.
- If they are in the UK, or within 6 months of being in the UK with a Family Permit, non-EEA family members of a EEA national can apply for a Residence Card for 5 years.
Permanent Residence for EEA nationals and their families
After 5 years of having lived in the UK, EEA and Swiss nationals, and their non-EEA family members that spent those five years with them, are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence, provided they have been complying with the above conditions during all those 5 years.
Once they get a Permanent Residence card, EEA and Swiss nationals are no longer obliged to fulfill their contractual obligations.
Retained rights of residence for family members of EEA nationals
If a ЕЕА national (main applicant) ceases to perform their contractual obligations in the UK, their non-EEA family members normally lose a right to residency.
However, in some cases they retain this right:
- If the main applicant, performing their contractual obligations and having Permanent Residence in the UK, dies, and if at that moment their family member has lived in the UK for at least one year. That family member must prove they perform their contractual obligations as if they were EEA nationals.
- In case of a divorce, if as of the date of Decree Absolute the ЕЕА national:
- have been performing their contractual obligations and having Permanent Residence
- the spouses have been married at least for 3 years before the divorce was initiated, and they have lived together in the UK for at least one year
- a spouse must prove that they have been performing their contractual obligations in the UK as if they were ЕЕА nationals.
Each case is specific and has a lot of nuances. Experts at Imperial & Legal will be happy to help you with any of your questions and advise you on each specific case.
British citizenship for EEA nationals
EEA and Swiss nationals can use their permanent residence document (see above) to apply for British citizenship either:
- after 12 months they get the permanent residence document, if they’ve only lived in the UK for 5 years when they get it, meaning the 6-year rule applies.
- immediately after getting permanent residence document, if they’ve already lived in the UK for 6 years when they get it.
British citizenship for family members of EEA nationals
Once a ЕЕА national becomes a British citizen, their dependent non-EEA family members can no longer stay in the UK under the EEA rules; they will have to apply for new visas under more stringent UK rules.
A spouse/ partner, acting as a sponsor, must meet one of the following conditions:
- minimum salary of £18,600 a year for at least 6 months with the same employer,
- cash savings of £16,500 for at least 6 months.
British citizenship significantly complicates the process of applying for a family reunion with elderly family members. EEA nationals, applying for British citizenship, should consider consequences for their family members. Though there is a UK Supreme Court decision in place that EEA nationals retain their right for EU immigration rules to be applied to them, it hasn’t been put into practice.
We have vast experience in this matter to provide you with a detailed consultation.
Premium and super premium services
EEA nationals may use Premium service to apply for a Residence or Permanent Residence cards; it means they need to personally visit one of the Home Office centres.
There is no super premium service for this type of visa.
To discuss your requirements, please contact our specialists or call us on +44 (0)203 490 41 21.