Because of the Brexit uncertainties, this page is, inevitably, a “work in progress”
What happens if my partner is an EEA national ?
As at June 2019, the rights of partners of EEA nationals remain as they were. We are all waiting to see how the post Brexit position will evolve.
UKLGIG will not attempt to produce other than very general guidance in relation to Brexit, but we list below various interim guides from within the legal community which we understand will be updated as the UK and EU positions become clearer.
Comprehensive guide, prepared for a recent meeting “EU nationals – understanding your options post-Brexit” organised by Islington In Europe with Wilsons Solicitors and Wesley Gryk Solicitors, at Islington Town Hall on 6th June 2019. The latest guide, titled “EU Citizen Rights and Settled Status – What you need to know” is authored by members of the immigration teams from the above firms, including Matthew Davies and Wesley Gryk who are themselves founders of UKLGIG.
Here for Good is a new charity established to empower EU, EEA and Swiss nationals living in the UK, by making them aware of the action they can take during the Brexit process to protect their own and their families’ rights – whether they have been here for years or arrived just weeks ago. Very useful Self-help guide.
The Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) have published a series of information sheets providing an overview of EU rights of residence and issues affecting citizens from European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and their family members living in the UK in the context of Brexit.
See also the ILPA Brexit advocacy series e.g. “Securing EEA Nationals’ Residence Rights”, “Rights to Remain after Brexit”.
A series of free e-book guides has been produced by Colin Yeo [immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London]. These are aimed at EU and EEA nationals wanting to apply for residence documents in the UK on the basis of being workers, self-employed individuals, self-sufficient individuals or students, for making applications for documentation confirming your right to be in the UK under European law.
The FreeMovement website and blog edited by Colin Yeo contains a wealth of commentary about Brexit related issues e.g.
What is the UK proposing ? Analysis 27th June, 2017
Comprehensive sickness insurance – Who needs it ? 23rd January, 2017
The following headings describe the very basic principles of UK and EU rules.
The EEA and ‘exercise of treaty rights’
The EEA (European Economic Area) is comprised of the EU plus three other countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia*, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. [* Restricted rights until 1st July, 2020].
Switzerland is not part of the EEA but its citizens are treated in a similar way due to a separate agreement.
An EEA national has a right of residence in the United Kingdom if they can show that they are ‘exercising their treaty rights’, or have acquired permanent residence under EU law. They usually do this by working or being self-employed but there are other ways. Full details on the exercise of treaty rights is given in the EEA & Swiss nationals home office guidance.
The partners of EEA nationals who are exercising their treaty rights in the UK, or have acquired permanent residence under EU law, currently come under EU law not UK law, so that the UK immigration rules do not apply. The exception to this is fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner applications which come under UK law, but currently this route is only available to the partners of EEA nationals who have acquired permanent residence and have a document certifying this.
The family of an EEA national who can show that they are exercising treaty rights are currently able to join them or stay with them in the UK. This includes a spouse, civil partner (or other recognised partnership), or people in a ‘durable relationship’ (extended family members) under EU law. Durable relationships are currently interpreted by the Home Office to mean those with 2 yrs prior cohabitation just like the UK unmarried partners rules.
Applicants can currently apply to enter UK as the family member of their EEA sponsor by means of a family permit . This application can be made ‘at any post designated by the Secretary of State to accept applications for entry clearance’ and ‘the applicant will need to be in the third country or territory in accordance with that country or territory’s immigration laws’ (i.e. legally).
A non-EEA partner who is already in the UK can make an application for the right to remain (a residence card) on form EEA(FM) and it is possible to do this at the same time as the sponsor’s application for a registration certificate. An EEA national does not need to have a registration certificate to live and work in UK, but please refer to this self help guide for more comprehensive outline of the implications for EU/EEA nationals post Brexit.
A residence card will currently be granted to the spouse/civil partner of an EEA national regardless of their immigration status, but we would strongly advise you to obtain legal advice if your immigration status is in question. The situation is less straightforward for “durable” partners.
Dual British/EEA nationals
Following the judgment on the Lounes case given on 14/11/17, the Home Office has amended the definition of an ‘EEA national’ in the Regulations. The definition, effective from July 2018, will now extend to dual British and EEA nationals provided that they naturalised as British following a period of residence in the UK under the Regulations (and can show that they were a ‘qualified’ person during that period, and have continued to be). It does not extend to someone who acquired their EEA nationality after becoming British, or to dual nationals who have never exercised free movement rights.
European law does not provide for fiancé(e)s/proposed civil partners. If the EEA national has acquired permanent residence and has a document certifying this, the partner can currently use the fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner category. Otherwise, the couple will need to marry abroad or use a marriage/civil partnership visit visa and then leave the UK to apply for an EEA family permit.
Applications for family permits to enter the UK, or for the right to remain with an EU/EEA partner (a residence card) are currently not subject to the strict financial requirements imposed on applications to join or remain with a British partner. This is one of the significant differences (some would say an anomaly) between applications under EU Law and UK law. Under the post Brexit immigration rules, this is not expected to continue, but no indication has yet emerged as to when the UK government will seek to impose any change.