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EU Citizens in the UK

This section covers the rights and obligations of nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as Swiss nationals and their visiting or migrating families.

EEA and Swiss nationals reserve the right to live within the UK if they:

  • are working within the UK; or
  • are fully able to support themselves independently of family, without the receipt of public funds.

This right was formerly known as the 'right of residence'.

Entering the United Kingdom

When entering the UK, either a passport or identity card is required. Where possible, visitors from the EU should use the channel marked 'EEA/EU'. Passports and identity cards will be checked to ensure validity.

Your family

If a visitor has the right to reside within the UK, it is also a right for the family to accompany the visitor in their stay. The legal definition of family in this instance is:

  • a spouse (husband or wife) or civil partner
  • children or grandchildren of the visitor, or their spouse or civil partner, under 21 years of age or any other related dependents
  • parents or grandparents of the visitor, spouse or civil partner.

Students visiting the United Kingdom are only entitled to the accompanying stay of their spouse, civil partner or dependent children.

Any other additional relatives and extended family members i.e. brothers, sisters and cousins, are not automatically entitled to United Kingdom residency. In order to acquire extended family consideration, the family member must be able to demonstrate their dependency upon the visitor.

Partners that are not married or civil partners must be able to prove the extent or their durable relationship with each other.

Family members who are not EEA or Swiss nationals

In the event that a visitor's family members are not EEA or Swiss nationals and wish to reside within the United Kingdom on a long term basis or permanently, EEA family permit application is required prior to entry. Similarly to visas, EEA family permits are issued by visa services. Applications should be made at the nearest British diplomatic post.

Employment

Both the visitor and family members are entitled to do any of the following:

  • start up a business
  • accept employment or offers of work
  • manage a company
  • start up a local branch of a business.

In these cases work permits are not required. Employers are not to discriminate against nationality through terms of conditions of employment, working conditions or pay.

Immigration rules for EEA nationals

Registration certificates are documents, issued to EEA nationals, confirming right of residence under European law. Registration certificate are not required upon entry, nor employment or even residency within the United Kingdom.

Cards of residence are issued to the family of EEA nationals that are not EEA nationals themselves, confirming a right of residence under European law.

In the instance that a visiting EEA national is from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia, their non-EEA family members will not be eligible to apply for a residence card until 12 months’ continuous employment has been completed within the United Kingdom by the EEA national. Prior to that time, non-EEA national family members are eligible to apply for a family member residence stamp confirming right of residence under European law.

Permanent residence

Post United Kingdom continuous residency in excess of five years, applications can be sought for confirmation of permanent residence.

Posted workers

Swiss nationals or Swiss companies conducting business within the UK, are entitled to send employees to work under them within the UK anything under and up to 90 days without requiring an application for a work permit. The employees in question must have been previously working under the employer in Switzerland or in an EEA member state for a reasonable time period prior to the overseas contract within the United Kingdom. If the employees are not EEA or Swiss nationals, applications for posted workers authorisation will be required.

Applications for posted workers' authorisation is an administration process managed by Visa services, details are held at each local British diplomatic posts.

Public funds

Residents are not required to work while living within the UK, however if not employed it must be demonstrable that self support is sufficient for both self dependency and that of any applicable dependants or family within the United Kingdom, without becoming an unreasonable burden on public funds.

EU immigration applications

This section covers visitor’s applications and those of their family in the process of acquiring for any of the following:

  • a registration certificate
  • a residence card
  • a family member residence stamp; or
  • the confirmation of permanent residence within the United Kingdom

for all of those who are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Prior to making an application, applicants are advised to read the applicable guidance notes for assistants.

Registration certificates

A registration certificate is issued to EEA or Swiss nationals confirming right of residence under European law. Registration certificates are not required for entry, employment or residents within the United Kingdom.

In the instance that an EEA national applying for a registration certificate is a national of:

  • Bulgaria
  • The Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

the applicant will not be eligible to apply for a residence card until 12 months’ continuous employment has been completed within the United Kingdom by the EEA national in question.

For an application to be accepted, the following must be provided:

  • evidence of qualifications; and
  • a valid identity card or passport issued by a country within the EEA or Switzerland

Residence cards

Family members of EEA or Swiss nationals, accompanying visiting residents who are not nationals of an EEA country or Switzerland, are (with some exceptions) eligible for application of a residence card, confirming right of residence under European law.

Ordinarily valid for five years, the residency card takes form of an endorsement placed within the holder's passport.

A valid passport must be provided, along with evidence of relation to a family member within the EEA.

Family member residence stamps

Residence cards are not available immediately, only entitled to applicants where by their related EEA national member has successfully completed 12 consecutive months of employment within the United Kingdom.

Until the completion of the period, family members who are not EEA or Swiss nationals are eligible for application of a family member residence stamp (FMRS) confirming their right of residence under European law.

A valid passport must be provided, along with evidence of relation to a family member within the EEA.

Permanent residence

Post five consecutive years of residents within the United Kingdom, applications for confirmation of permanent residence can be made if; employment, self-employment, study or self-sufficiency within the UK throughout the five-year period can be proven without reasonable doubt.

For residency within the UK to be considered continuous, there should be no longer periods that six months of UK absence in any one year. Absence compulsory military service does not however affect residence requirements, nor will an absence of up to 12 months as a result of a serious justifiable reason, i.e. pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or posting overseas.

EEA and Swiss nationals are to be issued with a document confirming authorisation of permanent residents within the UK, the document is given no expiry date and is to be considered an indefinite.

For the acceptance of applications a valid identity card or passport must be provided, along with evidence of rights to permanent UK residence.

Non-EEA nationals are to be issued with an endorsement placed within their passport. The endorsement is valid for 10 years.

Non-EEA nationals wishing to apply for permanent residence are required to complete application form EEA4.


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