Apply for an EEA Family Permit

Immigration advice

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 independence 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 our other blog, 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 assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

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