Kadmos Consultants have specialist expertise in European free movement rights, which is a particularly complex branch of UK immigration law. European free movement rights are the rights of EU nationals and their family members in the UK and also the rights of the British citizens who have lived and worked in another EU country and have thus acquired European rights in respect of bringing to the UK their family members from outside the EU.
EU citizens do not need any special documents in order to come to the UK. Whether they are coming for a short visit or to take up employment and settle in the UK, their entry to the UK is not subject to any visa requirements.
Family members of EU nationals who are not EU nationals themselves, generally require an EEA family permit to enter the UK with their EU national family member. This family permit is issued overseas and works as a visa or entry clearance to the UK. At the same time, an EEA residence document issued by another Member State may work as a family permit, or as authorisation for entry to the UK. We would therefore advise those who intend to travel to the UK as the family members of EU nationals to check with us if they need the family permit. We do not charge for this consultation and it may save you the cost and hassle of applying.
It may be worth noting that family members in EU law include the spouse, children under the age of 21 or above the age of 21 but still financially dependent on the parent, dependent parents, grandparents and great grandparents. There is also a concept of “extended family members”. It refers to siblings and more distant relatives, such as cousins, aunts and uncles. Extended family members may also be entitled to an EEA family permit if they either had lived in the household of the EU national or depend financially on the EU national.
Once in the UK, family members of EU nationals are advised to apply for an EEA residence card. Although this application is not mandatory in law, in practice it the only official confirmation of the rights of the applicant, including the right to work in the UK. An EEA residence permit is issued in the UK by the Home Office and is normally valid for five years. The documents is issued in the form of a vignette in the Applicant’s passport. It confirms the right to work and entitles the holder of the passport to go through immigration control at the same posts as EU and British citizens, without having to complete a landing card or queuing with “other passport holders”.
After five years of residence EU nationals and their family members are entitled to permanent right of residence. A condition to this is that EU national has to have been exercising Treaty rights continuously during the five years of residence. Exercising Treaty rights means working as an employee, being self-employed, or being a student or a self-sufficient person. The latter two groups have to have had a comprehensive private medical insurance for themselves and their family members throughout the period of residence as a student or a self-sufficient person. In the absence of medical insurance, a document certifying permanent residence will not be issued.
EU law also protects non-EU national spouse in case of a break down of the family. Where the couple have been married for more than three years and have lived in the UK for at least one of these three years, the non-EU national spouse retains the right of residence in the UK provided both the EU national and the non-EU national work in the UK at the time of divorce (or more precisely at the time the Decree Absolute is issued).
British citizens who have exercised their rights to free movement in other EU states may also benefit from the more generous provisions of EU law when it comes to immigration issues for their family members. This relates not only to the rights of the spouses of British citizens, but also to the rights of third country national parents and grandparents. These rights are likely to be compromised in the near future under the new settlement deal for the UK in the European Union, if the UK chooses to stay in Europe.
If you have a question regarding an EU matter, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.