Taking the complexity out of immigration
EEA Family Permit

Apply for an EEA Family Permit

Applying for an EEA Family Permit is supposed to be straightforward. So it can be a shock to come when an applicant receives a letter from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) informing them that their application for an EEA Family Permit has been refused. In Part 1 of this series on EEA permits and residence cards, we look at the basics of EEA Family Permits.


EEA Family Permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 and not the Immigration Rules. The permits allow overseas nationals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to enter the United Kingdom (UK) and join their family member as long as they are the:

  • Family member of an EEA national, or
  • Extended family member of an EEA national

The EEA national must either:

  • Be in the UK already
  • Plan on travelling with you to the UK within 6 months of the date of your application

If the EEA national has been in the UK for more than 3 months they must either:

  • Be a ‘qualified person’ by working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient); or
  • Have a permanent right of residence in the UK

Without an EEA Family Permit, overseas nationals will find it very difficult to secure entry to the UK. The EEA Family Permit should also be used, rather than applying for a standard visit visa, where the overseas family member is seeking to visit the EEA Family member.

Family members

Family members of EEA nationals are set out in Part 7 of the EEA Regulations as:

  • Spouses or civil partners
  • Direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner under 21
  • Dependent direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner 21 and over
  • Dependent direct relatives in the ascending line, for example parents and grandparents of the EEA national or their spouse / civil partner

Extended Family Members

Extended family members are defined under Part 8 of the EEA Regulations and include siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces.

Non EEA, overseas family members must demonstrate they are dependent on the EEA national or are a member of their household, or have a serious health condition and rely on them for their care.

Unmarried partners fall within this category also and must show that they are in a lasting relationship with the EEA national.


EEA Family Permit applications are free. Regardless, time, effort and care should be taken when preparing the application to avoid delays or worse still, a refusal.


It is imperative that the required documents are provided in support of the application for an EEA Family Permit.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, documents to be submitted include:

  • Current and valid passport
  • Evidence of the overseas national’s relationship to the EEA family member. Such documents will depend on the nature of the relationship and may include, for example:
    • Marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
    • Birth certificate
    • Proof that you’ve lived together for 2 years if unmarried
  • Family member’s current and valid passport or national identity card (or a certified copy)
  • Proof of your dependency if you’re dependent on your EEA family member

It is important to demonstrate that the EEA national is lawfully in the UK and that they have either permanent residence or, where they have been in the UK for over 3 months, that they are exercising their Treaty rights.

Additional documents to be submitted, may include:

  • Evidence of employment such as an employment contract, wage slips or a letter from an employer
  • Evidence of self-employed, such as contracts, invoices or audited accounts with bank statements and confirmation of paying tax and National Insurance
  • Proof of studying by way of a letter from the school, college or university
  • Evidence of financially independent such as bank statements

Where the EEA family member is studying or financially self-sufficient, evidence of their comprehensive sickness insurance should also be provided.

Original or certified copies must be submitted and supported by certified translations, where appropriate.


EEA family permits may be obtained from any overseas visa issuing post. As such, the overseas national does not need to be lawfully or normally resident in the country where they are applying form, unlike applications under the Immigration Rules. The overseas family member may be asked to attend an interview if the Entry Clearance Officer, considering the application, has strong grounds for doing so.


The EEA Family Permit is valid for 6 months and is meant to facilitate their entry to the UK. On the expiry of the permit, and following the overseas family member’s arrival, the overseas family member may continue to reside in the UK, as long as they continue to meet the EEA Regulations. That said, many overseas family members of EEA nationals find it advantageous to apply for a Residence Card to prove their status in the UK, especially to potential employers.

The situation is different for extended family members of EEA nationals, who must obtain a Residence Card following the expiry of an EEA family permit or they will be considered an overstayer.


In Part 2 of this series, we look at the top reasons for a refusal of EEA Family Permits and how to avoid adverse decisions.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

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If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for an EEA Family Permit, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like:

EEA permit applications and processing times

Permanent Residence to British citizenship: Is it worth the hassle?


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Join the discussion

  1. Lillian

    Hi ,

    My spouse who is an EU national is working in the UK . He entered the UK on 24th Feb and started work on 1 April.
    I currently have a UK multiple entry tourist visit visa valid for 2 years. I would like to visit my spouse for a week in the UK . Can I still use my tourist visa which was issued before my husband could exercise treaty rights in the UK or is it mandatory for me to get a family permit in order to make a one week visit to see him.



    • C. Thomas

      Hi Lillian,

      Your husband has been working in the UK since 1 April and is therefore exercising his Treaty rights. It’s not clear when he entered the UK. However, as the non-EEA spouse of an EEA national, you are entitled to enter the UK under an EEA Family Permit. This will bring you within the EEA Regulations rather than the more stringent UK immigration rules.

      There is no reason why you cannot travel to the UK under your visit visa, but bear in mind that you will need to evidence, to the Immigration Officer, that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit and return to your country of residence. If not, you will not meet the requirements of a visit visa.

      It’s not to say that you may not be granted entry to the UK, subject to further questioning at the border, but an EEA Family Permit can make entry to the UK much smoother, now and over the next 6 months. Not only that, it will allow you to begin exercising your own Treaty right, in line with your spouse, and it’s free of charge.

      If you have any further questions, or to arrange a consultation, you can contact me at [email protected].


  2. Pingback: Avoiding EEA Family Permit Refusals - Thomas Chase Immigration

  3. Bob

    Hi there,

    I am a EEA National married with a non EEA national spouse. We are both living in my spouse’s country and intend to go back to the UK. As I understand, you can apply using the online system and the EEA national DOES NOT HAVE to be necessarily residing in the UK at that moment as long as he intends to travel with the non EEA national within 6 months of the application?

    If this holds true, I wouldn’t have to go to the UK 3 months in advance exercising treaty rights as self-sufficient and then apply for the family permit.

    Please let me know if this can be done.

    Thank you,


    • C. Thomas

      Hi Bob,

      Thank you for contacting Thomas Chase Immigration.

      Your summary is correct.

      You would only need to have been exercising Treaty rights in the UK for at least 3 months, if you were already in the UK and your non-EEA national wife is seeking to join you here.

      As you are traveling to the UK together, your wife, once in possession of an EEA family permit, may accompany you to the UK.

      All the best,

  4. Reg. B

    I’m with a tourist visa in the UK and I’m married with an EU national and we want to apply to the family permit, can I apply being in (from) the UK with her?
    Thank you.

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Reg,

      Thanks for contacting Thomas Chase Immigration.

      You must be outside the UK to apply for an EEA family permit. This can be, but is not restricted to, your home country or country of residence.

      Should you wish to discuss further or have any questions about the process, we will be happy to arrange a consultation with you.

      All the best,

      • Mike

        Your immigration status is not relevant to this kind of application. Hence, you can apply in the UK even as a visitor. ? 5. EUN2.5 What did the ECJ judgment on Metock say in relation to issuing EEA family permits?
        The ECJ judgment on Metock in July 2008 prohibited Member States from having a general requirement for non EEA spouses of EEA nationals to be lawfully resident in another EEA member state before they can benefit from a right to reside under the EU Free Movement of Persons Directive. Therefore, we can no longer apply the lawful residence requirement (which was based on the case of Akrich) or our own domestic legislation (the Immigration Rules) to family members seeking first admission to the EEA from outside the EEA.

        • C. Thomas

          Hi Mike,

          That’s correct.
          The judgment in Metock is applicable to situations where the EEA national is residing in an EEA Member State other than their own.


  5. Leona Osuji

    Hi, thank you for your prompt response. This site has been so useful. I have another question. My husband stays in the uk and is not able to send his original documents across to me. My question is can he submit his original docs to the uk immigration over there in uk while i submit my application with the rest of the documents in my current location. Will this be feasible? Thanks

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Leona,

      Original documents must be submitted, by you, the applicant, as part of the application.

      If UKVI do not have all the required documents when considering the application, the application will be refused.

  6. Frank

    Hi, my girlfriend is an EEA national from France and I’m a non-EEA national from Nigeria. We applied for a marriage visitor visa for me to come over so we can get married but it was refused twice. Now we want to apply for the EEA family permit. I will be applying as her unmarried partner, and although we have been in a relationship since December 2014, we have not lived together for a period of 2 years. In this case is it still possible to apply for the permit based on our relationship and using proof of our contact like screenshots of conversations and calls since December 2014. Also is it possible to apply directly for a residence card or do I have to be in the UK to do so. Thank you

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Frank,

      An unmarried partner will need to evidence that they are in a ‘durable relationship’ with the EEA national in order to be considered as their extended family member.

      There are many ways to do so, including providing evidence of communications between the two and of cohabitation over the past 2 years.

      Once the EEA family permit has been secured, an application for a UK residence card may be made from within the UK.

      Please feel free to contact me again to arrange a consultation.

  7. Roxanna

    Hi there,

    My partner and I have been together 7 years but are not married. We have been living in London for the last 9 months – I have an Irish passport so am an EEA national. My partner is currently on a 2 year working visa. We both work full time and meet criteria re income.

    Are we able to apply for the 5 year EEA family permit within the UK? And does this cost anything?

    Many thanks,

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Roxanna,

      As a guide, an unmarried partner may apply for a UK residence card, from within the UK, as a family member. Unmarried partners would be expected to have lived together for at least 2 years in a relationship akin to marriage.

      UK residence cards are issued for 5 years and carry a processing fee of £65.

      If you would like a more detailed response or discussion about your and your partner’s specific circumstances, it may be more beneficial to arrange a 30 minutes’ telephone consultation.

  8. Ade

    My wife is an EEA member am non Eea.we are both in the UK working.i want to bring in my mum for visit .can she come through EEA family permit.what are the document needed

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Ade,

      As a guide, whether a parent may apply for a EEA family permit, to join their family members in the UK, will depend on a number of factors. They include: financial dependence between the family members, family’s circumstances and how the EU regulations apply.

      Each case is assessed on its own merits.

      Further details and suggested supported documents can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/family-permit/eligibility

      If you would like specific advice related to your mother, it may prove helpful to arrange a consultation.

  9. Liz

    I need some advice in relation to the EEA Family Permit Application.

    I am French living in the UK and my soon to be Husband is Nigerian. We are thinking of applying for the permit straight after the wedding but I have some questions:

    1- Will it be risky applying straight after the wedding?

    2- Does he need to do a TB test. It’s not part of the required documents but I see some people submitting it on this forum.

    3- He is self-employed but I am the one who will be sponsoring the whole thing, does he still need to provide his business documents like tax returns, incorporation documents etc…

    4- Which documents submitted need to be ORIGINALS?

    Any overall general advice anyone has would be appreciated.

    Thank You

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Liz,

      We cannot provide specific immigration advice.

      As a guide, there is no reason why a recently married couple cannot take advantage of the EEA family permit provisions. Nevertheless, it can help submit additional documents to demonstrate, to UKV,I that the marriage is genuine and subsisting and not one of convenience.

      UKVI will also assess the sponsor’s circumstances to ensure that the EEA national is exercising their Treaty rights and to assess that the couple can both reside in the UK without recourse to public funds.

      All documents in support of the application must be in original format or stamped certified/ attested copies.

      There is no requirement to provide a TB certificate as part of the application.

      Feel free to contact us to arrange a telephone consultation to discuss your specific circumstances or application.

  10. Gamila

    Hi Carla,

    Thanks for the blog posts – they are extremely helpful!

    I am a non-EEA national living in the US and my fiance is an EEA national (French citizen) who is a “qualified person”. We will get married in the US and I’ll apply for a Family Permit to join him in the UK. If I obtain the family permit, but fail to travel to the UK within 6 months because I haven’t secured a job in the UK by then (I don’t want to leave my current job in the US without finding a new one in the UK), can I get an extension or apply for a new family permit? And if I need to apply for a new one, would it be subject to more scrutiny than the original application and/or risk refusal?

    Many Thanks,

    • C. Thomas

      Glad you like the blog posts Gamila!

      Generally, a non-EEA national will be expected to travel to the UK within 6 months of the issue of the EEA family permit.

      Where the applicant travels to the UK outside of this period, the decision to grant the applicant entry to the UK will fall to the Immigration Officer at the border.

      If the Immigration Officer is satisfied that the applicant is the spouse of the EEA national exercising Treaty rights in the UK, then the Immigration Officer is likely to allow entry to the UK on that basis.

      If a significant amount of time has lapsed from the expiry of the EEA family permit and intended travel to the UK, or there are any concerns, it may be helpful to submit another application for an EEA family permit.

      Each application is decided on its own merits and the information provided.

  11. irfan


    I am an EEA national living in UK since last 8 months and working as self employed, I have one brother 39 unmarried in Pakistan and no one else,
    My question is, can he join me in UK, just by showing that he is financially dependent on me and if yes then for how many month’s financial statement do I have to show, and apart from that any other proofs?

    Thank you

  12. Aurelie

    Hi, I am a French citizen with permanent residence and my husband is a Nigerian national also with permanent residence. We would like to invite his mum trough the EEA family permit. I am a stay at home mum however my Husband is in employment and his mum is fully dependent on him.
    Can we apply if she depends on the EU citizen’s Spouse ( her son) rather than the EU citizen (me)?

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Aurelie,

      A dependent family member may apply for an EEA family permit if they are dependent on the EEA national or the EEA national’s spouse.

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