This relates to EEA family permit requirements and guidance in the light of Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 for non-EEA family members. And also provides details of supporting documents, refusal reasons checklist, marriage or civil partnership of convenience, EEA family permit refusal and success rate. Please note: from March 29, 2019, non-EEA family members of an EEA national can also apply for EU settlement scheme family permit.
The Free Movement of Persons Directive (2004/38/EC) allows EEA member states, such as the UK, to require non-EEA national family members to hold an entry visa. Accordingly, EEA family permit is the entry clearance visa for admission of non-EEA family members of an EEA national to the UK. However, a non-EEA family member needs to meet the requirements of regulation 12 of EEA Regulations 2016 for the issuance of an EEA family permit.
Who can apply for EEA Family Permit?
Accordingly, in terms of EEA Regulations 2016, the following types of non-EEA nationals can apply for an EEA family permit:
- a direct family member such as a spouse or a civil partner. And also direct descendants of the EEA national or his/her spouse or civil partner who is under 21 years of age and is a dependant of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner
- a dependent direct relative in the ascending line such as a parent, grandparent of an EEA national or his/her spouse or civil partner
- direct family members of British citizens claiming a right of admission to the UK under regulation 9, aka ‘Surinder Singh’ CJEU judgement cases
- extended family members such as relatives who are not direct family members. And also unmarried partners in a durable relationship with an EEA national
- a non-EEA national having a derivative right of residence under regulation 16 of EEA Regulations 2016
However, all the aforesaid types of applicants need to meet certain legal requirements under regulation 12 of EEA Regulations for the grant of an EEA family permit.
Please note, a non-EEA family member can only be admitted in the UK if he/she holds a valid passport and EEA family permit. Therefore, it is not also possible for a non-EEA family member to demonstrate the right to admission under the EU law at the UK border without an EEA family permit.
2. Direct Family Members (DFM)
EEA Family Permit Requirements
In terms of Regulation 12(1) of EEA Regulations 2016, a direct non-EEA family member of an EEA national can get an EEA family permit if the EEA national is residing in the UK in accordance with the Regulations or will be travelling to the UK within 6 months of the date of the application. Accordingly, a non-EEA direct family member can accompany or join the EEA national in the UK.
EEA family permit supporting documents requirements
Accordingly, for a direct family member, the EEA family permit supporting documents requirements are:
- Evidence of relationship: an original evidence of the relationship to the EEA national such as marriage, birth or an adoption certificate.
- The sponsor is an EEA national: an EEA national identity card or EEA passport. Moreover, an applicant can submit certified copies if the EEA national cannot produce his/her passport or ID card. For instance, if the EEA national is already in the UK
- If an EEA national is already residing in the UK, then an applicant needs to furnish evidence relating to a qualified person for employment, income, study etc.
- If the EEA national is travelling with the non-EEA family for visiting the UK within 6 months of the date of an application then for EEA family permit, an applicant can furnish evidence such as flight and hotel bookings in the UK.
How a spouse can prove that the relationship is genuine?
A spouse or civil partner applying for an EEA family permit need to provide the evidence that the relationship is genuine and subsisting. For instance, include evidence of cohabitation such as:
- joint tenancy or mortgage agreements
- utility bills
- bank statements
Please note the aforesaid is not an exhaustive list. Therefore, an applicant may submit any other documents to show a genuine relationship with the EEA national.
How a direct family member can prove dependency?
A dependent direct family member, such as direct descendant aged 21 or over and dependent relatives in the ascending line, applying for an EEA family permit need to provide documentary evidence that the applicant is dependent on the EEA national sponsor or his/her spouse or civil partner. Accordingly, the supporting evidence may include:
- bank or building society statements
- evidence of fund transfer
- evidence of living in the same household if applicable
- any other evidence to show that the EEA national sponsor has enough money to support the applicant. And the applicant relies on the EEA national
3. Extended Family Member (EFM)
EEA Family Permit Requirements
In terms of Regulation 12(4) of EEA Regulations 2016, an extended non-EEA family member may get the EEA family permit if:
- the EEA national is residing in the UK in accordance with the 2016 regulations, or will be travelling to the UK within 6 months of the date of application and will be residing in the UK in accordance with the regulations
- the extended family member wishes to accompany the EEA national to the UK or to join them there
- in all the circumstances, it appears to be appropriate to issue the EEA family permit
EEA Family Permit Supporting Documents Requirements for EFM
Accordingly, for an extended family member, the EEA family permit supporting documents requirements are:
- An EEA national’s identity card or passport: showing that the sponsor is an EEA national. However, the applicant may provide the certified copies if the EEA national cannot produce their passport or ID card. For example, the EEA national is already in the UK
- Relationship with the EEA national: an extended family member needs to provide evidence of the relationship between the applicant and the EEA national. For relatives, this may be marriage, birth or adoption certificates. For instance, a cousin may provide a birth certificate showing his/her mother’s details. And his/her mother’s birth certificate showing the relationship to her sister who is the aunt of the applicant!
- If an EEA national is already residing in the UK, then an extended family member needs to furnish evidence relating to the sponsor (EEA national) in accordance with the 2016 regulations as a qualified person. Perhaps, the evidence depends on the claim of an EEA national as a qualified person in the UK
- If the EEA national is travelling with the applicant (non-EEA extended family member) for visiting the UK within 6 months of the date of an application then for EEA family permit, an extended family member can furnish evidence such as flight and hotel bookings in the UK.
How a durable partner may prove cohabitation?
Apparently, the durable partners applying for EEA family permit needs to provide evidence of 2 years cohabitation such as:
- utility bills for showing a joint residence
- tenancy or mortgage statements
- joint caring of dependent children
Please note: there is no definitive list of evidence that a durable partner may provide for an EEA family permit application to prove cohabitation. Accordingly, an applicant may provide documents depending on an applicant’s circumstances. Perhaps, if an applicant furnishes evidence for less than 2 years of cohabitation but the applicant satisfies that the relationship is durable then may get the EEA family permit!
How an extended family member may provide financial dependency?
If an extended family member is applying as the dependant of the EEA national the needs to furnish evidence that the applicant is financially dependent on the EEA national for meeting the essential needs. For instance, the applicant may provide bank statements or details of money transfers from the EEA national.
What if an extended family member is a member of household?
If an extended family member is a member of the EEA national’s household then may provide evidence such as utility bills, social services letters, mortgage or tenancy agreements etc.
If an extended family member is on the basis of personal care of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner then may provide evidence such as medical letters from a qualified practitioner etc.
What if a dependant meets the ILR requirements?
If an applicant is applying as a relative of an EEA national and would meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for indefinite leave as a dependant relative of the EEA national then needs to provide evidence relating to dependency such as bank statements, funds transfer etc. And also how the applicant meets the indefinite leave requirements under the Immigration Rules.
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4. Non-EEA Family Members of British Citizens
EEA Family Permit Requirements
Since November 25, 2016, there has been some changes in the requirements relating to non-EEA family members of the British citizens. Accordingly, in terms of Regulation 9 of the 2016 EEA regulations, a non-EEA family member of a British national needs to meet the following requirements for an EEA family permit:
- British Citizen is residing in an EEA member country other than the UK as a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person, student; OR
- the British Citizen has resided immediately before returning to the UK; OR
- the British Citizen has acquired the right of permanent residence in an EEA country other than the UK; AND
- Non-EEA family member and the British citizen resided in an EEA member country; AND
- Non-EEA family member and the British citizen are genuinely residing in the EEA member country
A genuine residence in an EEA country
Moreover, the factors affecting the genuineness of residence in an EEA member country are:
- whether the centre of the British citizen’s life transferred to the EEA country
- the length of the non-EEA family member and British citizen’s residence in an EEA member country
- the nature and quality of the non-EEA family member and British citizen’s accommodation in the EEA country. And whether it is or was the British citizen’s principal residence
- the degree of the non-EEA family member and the British citizen’s integration in the EEA member country
- whether the non-EEA family member’s first lawful residence, with the British citizen, was in an EEA member country
When Regulation 9 is not applicable?
Certainly, the regulation 9 of EEA Regulations 2016 is not applicable if the purpose of the residence in the EEA state is only a means for circumventing any immigration rules to which the non-EEA family member would otherwise be subject to. For instance, a British citizen and non-EEA spouse took up residence in another EEA state to enable them to come to the UK under free movement because they can not meet the requirements of the relevant immigration rules. Perhaps, this may become more evident if there is a past refusal relating to an entry clearance application- as a spouse or fiance under the Immigration Rules!
Is Regulation 9 applicable to an extended family member?
No, regulation 9 does not apply to non-EEA extended family members. Perhaps, even after getting documentation as a non-EEA extended family member under regulation 7(3) of the EEA Regulations 2016.
British citizen needs to be a qualified person
Apparently, after living in the UK for 3 months, the British citizen needs to show that he/she is a qualified person i.e.
- self-employed or self-sufficient person or
- a student in the UK
Please note, if a non-EEA family member is accompanying the British citizen on a visit to the UK then evidence relating to a qualified person is not required. Indeed, this is because the British citizen is treated as an EEA national. And a British citizen is permitted an initial 3 months without condition, the same as any other EEA national.
However, if the sponsoring British citizen has been in the UK for longer than 3 months and the non-EEA family member is joining the British citizen then needs to provide evidence that a British citizen is a qualified person.
5. Retained a Right of Residence
EEA Family Permit Requirements
Apparently, regulation 12(3)(a) of EEA Regulations 2016, entitles a non-EEA family member, who has retained a right of residence, for an EEA family permit. For instance, a non-EEA spouse or civil partner may have a retained right of residence if the relationship with an EEA national ends or the EEA national partner dies.
Applying for an EEA family permit in a personal capacity
Perhaps, a non-EEA family member who has retained a right of residence does not need to show that he/she will be joining or accompanying an EEA national. Certainly, this is because family members who has retained a right of residence do so in a personal capacity. Therefore, the right for an EEA family permit of a non-EEA family member no longer depends on the EEA national. Accordingly, a person who previously have a residence card, which has expired or lost, can apply for an EEA family permit. Moreover, persons having a retained right of residence, who have not previously made an application on this basis, can also apply for an EEA family permit.
Implications of regulation 10
Indeed, a non-EEA family member needs to meet the requirements of regulation 10 of EEA Regulations 2016. Accordingly, if an applicant has previously received a residence card on the basis of a retained right of residence on the condition that the applicant must be a worker, self-employed person or self-sufficient person, then the applicant continues to meet the condition.
6. The Right of Permanent Residence
EEA Family Permit Requirements
Apparently, regulation 12(3)(b) of EEA Regulations 2016, entitles a non-EEA family member, who has acquired a right of permanent residence, for an EEA family permit. Accordingly, a non-EEA family member who has acquired a right of permanent residence do not need to show that he/she will be joining or accompanying the EEA national family member. Certainly, this is because a non-EEA family member who has a right of permanent residence does so in a personal capacity and no longer dependent on the EEA national.
Applications for an EEA family permit on this basis may be from a person who has previously been issued with a permanent residence card and that permanent residence card has expired or has been lost. Moreover, persons having a right of permanent residence, who have not previously made an application on this basis, can also apply for an EEA family permit.
Proving the right of admission under regulation 15
Moreover, an applicant needs to meet the EEA family permit requirements under regulation 15 of the EEA 2016 Regulations to retain a right of residence. For instance, if an EEA family permit applicant has remained outside of the UK for a continuous period of two years or more then loses the right of permanent residence. This means that the applicant must prove that they have a right of admission on the basis that they would, were they in the UK, meet the conditions for a derivative right of residence and that they will be accompanying or joining the person from whom they derive that right. For example, a person claiming a derivative right of residence as the primary carer of a British citizen under regulation 16(5) (‘Zambrano’ cases) must show that they meet the conditions in regulation 16(5). And that they are accompanying or joining the British citizen.
7. Derivative Rights of Residence
EEA Family Permit Requirements
Indeed, a person can apply for an EEA family permit if he/she has a derivative right of residence as the:
- primary carer of an EEA child in the UK who is financially independent
- child of an EEA former worker and the child is currently studying in the UK
- primary carer of a child of an EEA former worker. And the child is currently in education in the UK
- child of a primary carer, who qualifies through one of these categories
- primary carer of a British child
- primary carer of a British dependent adult
Moreover, regulation 12(2) of the 2016 regulations states that a non-EEA family member entitles for an EEA family permit if the applicant is able to show that at the time which they first intend to use the EEA family permit they:
- would be entitled to enter the UK by virtue of regulation 11(5) which relates to people who have previously resided in the UK under a derived right of residence
- will (apart from a person who would be entitled to be admitted to the UK virtue of regulation 11(5)(a)) (child of an EEA national worker in the UK) be accompanying, or joining in the UK, any person from whom this right to be admitted will be derived
8. Guidance Notes
EEA Family Permit Requirements
An EEA family permit is valid for 6 months. And a non-EEA family member of an EEA national can leave and enter the UK on multiple occasions within the validity period.
In order to protect the interests of minors, children under 18 need to establish parental responsibility for EEA family permits as direct descendants of EEA nationals. Particularly where one or both parents are not accompanying the child to the UK. Perhaps, in these cases, it is reasonable to provide a parent or legal guardian’s consent letter for the proper care of the child in the UK.
Mandatory Supporting Documents
A non-EEA family member needs to provide the following mandatory supporting documents for an EEA family permit:
- a valid passport
- a valid passport or EEA national identity (ID) card for the EEA national sponsor (a photocopy is acceptable for the purposes of an EEA family permit application)
- evidence of the relationship between the family member and the sponsor (EEA national)
Certainly, the EEA family permit entry clearance application for 6 months is free of charge.
Indeed, as per EEA Regulations, UKVI needs to issue EEA family permits on priority basis. However, EEA Regulations do not say that EEA family permits must be issued on the day that the application is made. Accordingly, the EEA Regulations does allow the Member States to take reasonable measures to mitigate the abuse of the freedom of movement i.e. obtaining EEA family permit by deception. Therefore, in most of the cases, UKVI processes an EEA family permit application within 10-15 working days or 2-3 weeks. However, at times, especially in the case of an extended family member, fiance and proposed civil partner, the processing of EEA family permit may take more than 30 or 60 working days due to verifications and interview.
Why applicants may experience delays in processing times?
The delays in the processing of EEA family permits are usually due to doubts about the genuineness of the relationship or employment. Therefore, there are delays due to the verification process as an ECO can’t issue an EEA Family Permit until and unless an applicant fully satisfies that his/her bonafide and intentions.
Usually, a non-EEA national issues a Category D Vignette with one of the following endorsements:
- D: ‘EEA FP: FAMILY MEMBER: [TO ACC ‘Name of EEA national’] or
- D: ‘EEA FP: FAMILY MEMBER: [TO JOIN ‘Name of EEA national’]
Accordingly, the EEA family permit endorsement indicates whether the non-EEA national will accompany or join the EEA national in the UK. Furthermore, the EEA family permit only enables to live in the UK in accordance with the EEA Regulations. And certainly can be cancelled/revoked on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health.
When a family member can apply for a residence card?
Perhaps, after entry to the UK, the holder can apply to the Home Office for a residence card. A residence card (an endorsement in the holder’s passport) enables the holder to re-enter the UK without the need for an EEA family permit for as long as he/she is the family member of an EEA national with a right of residence in the UK. A residence card, which is normally valid for five years. And is simply a confirmation of the holder’s right of residence in the UK – it is not a compulsory requirement.
The Time Limits
Apparently, there is no time limit for a direct family member. However, under regulation 7(3) or the 2016 regulations, an extended non-EEA family member needs to apply for a residence card if he/she intends to stay in the UK after the expiry of the EEA family permit. Accordingly, otherwise, the Home Office will consider the extended family member of an EEA national as an over-stayer.
Who is eligible for an EEA but not EUSS family permit?
Apparently, the following types of non-EEA family members of EEA nationals are eligible for the EEA family permit but are not eligible for the EUSS family permit:
- extended family members as defined in the EEA Regulations such as durable partners and dependent relatives
- persons with a derivative right of residence in the UK. For instance, Chen, Ibrahim and Teixeira and Zambrano cases
- persons who have lived with a British citizen exercising EU Treaty rights in another EEA country before returning to the UK to live i.e. Surinder Singh cases
- persons whose EEA or Swiss citizen family member has not been granted leave under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
9. Refusal Reasons
EEA Family Permit Refusal Reasons and Grounds
The common EEA family permit refusal reasons and grounds mainly relates to:
- Inadequate evidence to support the claim as a family member
- Doubts about the intentions of an EEA national for going to the UK with the applicant
- A child aged 21 or above is not a genuine dependent of an EEA national. Perhaps, this reason is not applicable in case of a spouse, civil partner or a child under 21 years of age
- No evidence of serious health issues- if an applicant claims to require the personal care of the EEA national on serious health grounds
- No adequate evidence of a durable relationship
- The family member is not a qualified person under EEA Regulations 2016
- Party to a civil partnership or marriage of convenience
- The applicant is not an extended family member of an EEA national
- Refusal on public policy, security and health grounds
- The British citizen is not exercising a Treaty right in a Member State (Surinder Singh)
- The applicant is the spouse/civil partner of the British national but is (was) not living with the British national in the EEA State (Surinder Singh)
Marriage or civil partnership of convenience
The Regulation 2 of the EEA Regulations 2016, excludes a person from the definition of ‘spouse’ or ‘civil partner, who is a party to a marriage or civil partnership of convenience. If there are suspicions about the bonafide of an applicant then the decision-maker may:
- ask for additional evidence to substantiate the genuineness of marriage or a civil partnership or/and
- may ask the applicant to attend an interview
EEA family permit interview
The ECO can invite an applicant for an interview as long as any delay or deferral can be justified. The ECO can consider inviting an applicant for an interview when there are strong grounds to doubt that the:
- applicant is not related as claimed to the EEA national
- applicant is not genuinely dependent on the EEA national (except spouses and descendants under 21)
- EEA national may not be intending to going to the UK
- EEA national may not be a qualified person
In addition to the above, if there are strong grounds to suspect:
- that the EEA national intends to ‘drop off’ the applicant and return to the country of origin
- a marriage of convenience
- the identity of the applicant
Moreover, an applicant can be called for an interview if there are strong grounds to consider refusing on the basis of public policy, public health or security.
What if an applicant fails to provide the required evidence?
Regulation 22(4)(b) empowers the ECO to draw factual inferences from the circumstances if the applicant fails to comply with a request to provide evidence or to attend an interview on 2 separate occasions. Accordingly, the ECO can infer decision in the light of the failure to provide evidence or attend an interview and any other reasons to suspect the genuineness of marriage or civil partnership.
When a EEA family permit is refused after an interview?
However, if after an interview, an ECO decides that the marriage or civil partnership is one of convenience then will refuse the EEA family permit application by clearly setting out the reasons in the refusal letter. Certainly, with a conclusion that marriage or civil partnership is not genuine but of convenience.
EEA family permit refusal on public policy grounds
In line with regulation 21, EEA family permit application can be refused on the grounds of public policy, security and health grounds. However, it is distinct from the provisions in the Immigration Rules on suitability and general grounds. Accordingly, the level of evidence required for refusing an EEA family permit is high. Therefore, a person’s previous criminal convictions alone do not suffix or justify a refusal. Moreover, if an applicant has submitted fraudulent evidence then the EEA family permit also refuses on public policy grounds.
Deportation or Exclusion Order
The applicant first needs to revoke the deportation or exclusion order before applying for the EEA Family Permit.
EEA Family Permit Refusal and the Right to Appeal
A non-EEA national only has a right to appeal if he/she has a valid passport and proof that he/she is a family member of an EEA national. Accordingly, non-EEA national does not have a right to appeal if they do not produce a valid passport or evidence to show that he/she is a family member of an EEA national. However, for exercising the right of appeal, a non-EEA national needs to file an appeal within 28 days after receiving the refusal letter.
EEA Family Permit Success and Refusal Rate
During 2005-17, a total of 396,939 entry clearance applications made for EEA family permits from outside the UK. Accordingly, 392,464 applications resolved and 310,011 EEA family permits granted. Moreover, a total of 77,156 applications refused. And also 4,340 applications withdrawn and 957 applications lapsed. Therefore, the EEA family permit success and refusal rate is 78.99% and 19.66%, respectively.
Why EEA family permit refusal rate is increasing?
Apparently, the most number of applications (49,590) and grants (49,009) made in 2016. Certainly, from 2013-14 onwards there has been a surge in the applications for EEA family permits due to Brexit. However, the success rate since 2015 is less than the average success rate of 78.99%. And the EEA family permit success rate touched the lowest ebb of 66.48% in 2017. Moreover, the EEA family permit refusal rate was highest in 2016 (32.13%) and lowest (4.28%) in 2005. Moreover, EEA family permit refusal rate since 2015 is well above the average refusal rate of 19.66%.