Europian nationals and their family members

This section is for nationals of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. It explains how they and members of their families (whether or not they are EEA or Swiss nationals themselves) can come to, live in and work in the UK.

If you  an EEA national you do not need an entry clearance or a work permit if you want to live and work in the United Kingdom. Your family will be able to join you in the United Kingdom. This includes your spouse, civil partner, children or grandchildren under 21 or, if they are over 21, dependent on you. It also includes dependent relatives such as your parents, parents-in-law or people in a durable relationship. Other relatives can also sometimes come to the United Kingdom. For your family to join you, they should usually obtain a so-called family permit at the nearest British Embassy or High Commission.

As an EEA national you have a right of residence in the United Kingdom if you can show that you are working in the United Kingdom or you have enough money to support yourself throughout your stay without public funds.

What we can do for you:

In order to complete your UK Visa application efficiently your immigration matter will be dealt with in five stages:

  1. A detailed assessment of your personal circumstances
  2. Pre-application, where we will ensure that we receive the correct documents to strengthen your case
  3. The completion of your UK Visa application
  4. Submission of your UK Visa application
  5. Contact you with the confirmation of your UK Visa

 EEA Registration Certificate

is a document confirming an EEA national’s right of residence under European Community law.

EEA Residence Card 

confirms a person’s right of residence under European Law. They are issued to the family members of EEA or Swiss nationals who are not themselves EEA nationals.

Permanent Residence 

 European national applicants can apply for  after they have completed five continuous years of residence in the UK in accordance with EEA Regulations 2006.

Eligibility for permanent residence

Regulation 15 states that the following are eligible for residence:

-EEA nationals who have resided in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years;

-Non-EEA national family members who have resided in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years;

-A worker or self-employed person who has ceased activity;

-The family member of a worker or self-employed person who has ceased activity;

-A person who was the family member of a worker or self-employed person, where: The worker/self-employed person has died; and the family member resided with him/her immediately before his death; and the worker/self-employed person had resided continuously in the UK for at least the two years immediately before his/her death or the death was the result of an accident at work or occupational disease;

Applicants will need to complete application form EEA3 available on the UK Border Agency website. Non-EEA national family members will need to complete application form EEA4.

Once permanent residence is acquired, if the EEA national leaves the UK for more than 2 consecutive years, they can lose their right to residence or if they become a threat to public policy, health or security (in line with regulation 19 (b) ).

Continuous Residence

In order for residence to be considered as ‘continuous’, applicants should not have been away from the UK for more than 6 months of each year although exceptions can be made in some circumstances such as maternity or bereavement.

Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals

Since 1st January 2007, applicants from Bulgaria and Romania are able to reside in the UK as European Economic Area (EEA) nationals without the need to obtain prior entry clearance or leave to remain.

However, those applicants who wish to work in the UK will need to obtain prior authorisation first by obtaining either a visa, card or certificate.

Employing a Bulgarian or Romanian national: Types of Applications:

Accession worker card:

Issued to applicants seeking employment in a certain category including:

Two types of Purple work cards:

  1. Beginning with serial number H: issued to applicants requiring authorisation to work in one of employment categories listed above
  2. Beginning with serial number G: issued to applicants that require permission to work but whose work does not fall into one of the employment categories above (issued through existing work permit arrangements). This category of applicant is allowed to take supplementary work with their main job provided certain criteria are met.

If the employment falls into one of the above categories then the employer must apply for approval under the work permit arrangements.  The applicant must then apply for an accession worker card. An applicant does not need to obtain the card if they are taking part in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) or if they obtained entry clearance in a category which allows employment prior to 1st January 2007.

If the applicant does not fall into any of the above employment categories, then the employer will need to obtain a letter of approval under the work permit arrangements.


Applicants will be exempt from requiring permission if they fall into one of the following categories:

Family members of EEA nationals

Nationals of the countries comprising the European Economic Area (citizens of the countries comprising the European Union as well as those of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and their family members (whether or not they are themselves EEA nationals) are not subject to the UK’s Immigration Rules. Instead their admission into and stay in the UK is subject to European Union law, implemented in the UK by the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

EEA Citizen Family Visa

Family members of EEA citizens enjoy the right of admission to the UK without leave to enter or remain providing they can prove their relationship to an EEA citizen. Normally this will be done though a passport and an EEA family permit, family residence card or permanent residence card.

Member States are compelled to give a person claiming to be a family member without these documents every reasonable opportunity to obtain the relevant documents or have them brought to him or her or to prove by other means that he or she is indeed a family member.

Family members enjoy the same right of initial residence for a period of three months as EEA citizens (without the right to be accompanied by family members).

A family member wishing to travel to the UK can apply to an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) for a family permit, which will considerably ease passage into the UK. The application is free and the permit must be issued as soon as possible if the person qualifies.

An extended family member is subject to an extensive examination by the ECO, whereas an immediate family member need only furnish evidence of the qualifying relationship with the qualified person and of the fact that the qualified person is or will soon be entitled to reside in the UK under the terms of the Directi

Family members who are not exempt from authorisation to work will also need to apply for either an accession worker card or registration certificate. Non-EEA family members of a person holding an Accession worker card can apply for a family member residence stamp.

Registration Certificates

Applicants who are self-employed, self-sufficient or students can apply for a registration certificate.

Highly Skilled Romanian and Bulgarian nationals

Highly skilled workers will not require permission to work in the UK but will require a registration certificate to prove their status. Applicants will need to obtain 75 points in order to qualify under this category (based on qualifications, previous earnings, experience and age. Please see Tier 1 General migrant’s page for more information).

Blue Registration Certificates: for applicants who have full treaty rights and who are not subject to worker authorisation giving the holder free access to the UK labour market.

Yellow registration certificates: for applicants who do not have full access to the UK labour market. For those who are self employed, self sufficient or students. Student applicants will be able to work for any employer up to 20 hours during term time.


Applicants who have been refused a registration certificate may have a right of appeal against the decision. Applicants who have been refused an accession worker card can request the decision to be reconsidered (within 28 days).

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