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Complete guide to the EEA Residence Card for UK, who needs it, how to get it, the requirements, the fees and more relevant details

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) enjoy the freedom of traveling, living, working, founding a business, studying in any other member country within the area. The agreement between the EEA countries includes also mutual recognition of the professional qualifications and coordination amongst members as regards of social security.

What is a UK EEA Residence Card?

The EEA residence card is a multipurpose instrument that is useful in several other occasions in addition to a UK residence permit, such as:

  • to travel across other EEA countries.
  • to get a quicker and less bureaucratic entrance in the UK from abroad.
  • to show the eligibility to work in the UK.
  • to get an easier access to certain benefits and services.

Who needs an EEA Residence Card?

Your non-EEA family members can receive an EEA Residence Card from the UK, if they’re ‘direct family members’ or ‘extended family members’ already living here with you. This is possible only if you’re either a ‘qualified person’ or a ‘UK Permanent Resident’.

Non-EEA citizens who’re also eligible to get an EEA Residence Card are those living here as a ‘Retained Rights of Residence’ or a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.

Your family members will need the EEA card in several occasions. They’ll be able to re-enter the UK border quicker and easier, simply confirm their eligibility to work and access benefits and services here.

Note: Due to Brexit, since January 1, 2021 the EEA Residence Card will not be valid in the UK. After 31 December 2020, you and your EEA family member must get the status of settled or pre-settled foreigners here, beforehand such date.

What is a qualified person?

A qualified person is considered anyone living in the UK and exercising treaty rights as a worker, as a student with a health insurance, as a job-seeker, as a self-employed person (conditional circumstances), or as a self-sufficient person with a health insurance.

Who is considered a direct family member?

Recognized as family members of EEA citizens are the following non-EEA citizens:

  • Your spouse/civil partner.
  • Your/your spouse’s or civil partner’s child/grandchild of age 21 or a dependent.
  • Your/your spouse’s or civil partner’s parent/grandparent.

If you’re an EEA student in the UK, here is who qualifies as your non-EEA ‘direct family members’:

  • Your spouse or civil partner.
  • Your/ your spouse’s or civil partner’s dependent child.

Who is considered an extended family member?

Recognized as extended family members of EEA citizens are the following non-EEA citizens:

  • Your unmarried partner from a long-lasting relationship.
  • Your/your spouse’s or civil partner’s relative. Relatives can be brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces and cousins. They can also be grandchildren, parents/grandparents if you’re an EEA student. They must hold an EEA permit. They must have been living with you or been your dependent before coming here. Otherwise, they must be your dependent or living with you now. Or else, they must need your/your spouse’s or civil partner’s personal care, as they’re seriously ill.

How to Apply for an EEA Residence Card?

The application process for an EEA Residence Card includes submitting the application documents and the biometric information, such as your digital photograph, fingerprints and signature.

When you’re applying same time with a qualified person, they’re allowed to include you in their online application form.

Other cases than that, you’ll need to download and complete the application form for EEA Residence Card and address it to the Home Office using postal services.

EEA Residence Card Requirements

The required documents to apply for an EEA residence card are:

  • Duly completed application form for an EEA Residence Card. Form EEA (FM) for family members. Use form EEA (EFM) if you’re an extended family member.
  • The applicants’ valid passport.
  • Two recently made passport size color photo of the applicant.
  • One recently made passport size color photo of the sponsor. Of the EEA or of British citizen.
  • EEA nationals’ valid passport/their national ID card.
  • The application fee.
  • Documents endorsing the relationship of the non-EEA with the EEA national (sponsor).
    • Certificate of marriage.
    • Certificate of civil partnership.
    • Certificate of birth.
    • Evidence of a joint life with your EEA sponsor for at least 2 years. For a relationship that is not matrimony or a civil partnership.
  • Documents to confirm any of the residence status of a sponsor or the applicant (as the case may be).
    • Evidence that your EEA sponsor has the permanent right of residence in the UK.
    • Evidence that your EEA sponsor is a qualified person.
    • Evidence that you’re a ‘retained right of residence’ If relevant.
    • Evidence that you’re a ‘Surinder Singh’ case. If relevant.
  • For ‘Surinder Singh’ applications only: documents confirm a shared life and household between the British citizen and the non-EEA national in another EEA country.
    • Evidence showing your home address in the foreign EEA state.
    • The renting contract.
    • Purchasing contract.
    • Other formal documents showing the home address.
  • Evidence of integration in the foreign EEA state.
    • Proof of speaking any of the official languages of such state.
    • Proof of having children born there.
    • Proof of having children still living there.
  • Previous travel itinerary to and from the foreign EEA state. Must show all arrival and departure dates to/from and from/to the foreign EEA state.
  • The immigration history to the UK and other countries. (If any).
    • The complete visa applications for UK or other country’s visas.
    • Rejections, cancellations, deportations or similar immigration fines in the UK.

Retained Rights of Residence

As a non-EEA citizen, you can get an EEA Residence Card as ‘retained right of residence’ case, if you’re someone whose EEA sponsor has died, left the UK, or whose marriage/civil partnership with such sponsor has officially ended. Your EEA family member must have been a ‘qualified person’ or ‘permanent resident’ here, right before stopped being your sponsor.

You’ll qualify for an EEA Residence Card as a ‘retained rights of residence’ case if you are:

  • Divorced spouse/civil partner of an EEA national.
  • Family member of a dead EEA national. You must have lived together with the sponsor for at least 1 year before their death.
  • Student and a child of an EEA national/their spouse or civil partner/their ex-spouse or ex-civil partner. Your sponsor must have either died or left the UK to live elsewhere.
  • Parent of a non-EEA student in the UK with custody rights over such child.

Requirements to apply for Retained Rights of Residence

Your application for an EEA Residence Permit may vary depending the reason you’ve qualified as a ‘retained right of residence’ case here.

Four are the different cases you’ll be able applying for an EEA Residence Permit as a ‘retained right of residence’, as it will be explained.

Family member of a sponsor that has recently passed away

You’ll be eligible for an EEA Residence Permit as your EEA sponsor has died and your complete continual years spent in the UK are not less than five. For at least one year before your sponsor’s death you’ve lived here as their direct/extended family member. After their death you remained here with ‘retained rights of residence’.

Documents to apply for an EEA (PR) as a ‘Retained Rights of Residence’ case, due to death of the EEA sponsor:

  • Evidence of sponsor’s death.
  • Evidence of sponsor’s status right before their death.
  • Evidence of being a qualified person.
  • Evidence of your status in the UK.
  • Evidence of having lived with the sponsor for at least 1 year right before their death.

Family member of a sponsor that has departed the UK

You’re eligible for an EEA Residence Permit as you’re completing studies in the UK which you’ve started before the death of your EEA sponsor/departure from here. Since the death of your sponsor, you’ve retained your rights of residence here. You’ve lived continually here for at least five years, where at least one year you’ve lived with the sponsor.

Specific documents to apply for an EEA (PR) as a ‘retained rights of residence’ case, due to death/departure from the UK of the EEA sponsor:

  • Evidence that the sponsor has left the UK permanently.
  • Evidence of having lived with the sponsor. For at least 1 year right before their death/departure from the UK.

Parent of child student in the UK and whose EEA parent has died/left the UK.

You’re eligible for an EEA Residence Permit since you’re one of the parents of a child studying here, whose other parent is/was an EEA citizen who has left the UK or died. You’ve not been married or in civil partnership with your child’s sponsoring parent. Your continuous years lived here are not less than five.

You’re applying based on your child’s retained rights of residence for completing their started studying here. You have custody rights over your child. If not, you have the permission to live with them issued by their other parent.

The period you may stay with an EEA Residence Permit under such circumstance is five years. This period is shortened up to the date your child completes studying here, or up to the date they turn 21.

This period can be extended if your child decides they’ll need you to complete their studies.

Specific documents to apply for an EEA (PR) Card if you’re a parent of a child student with ‘retained rights of residence’ here:

  • Evidence of sponsor’s death
  • Evidence of relationship with the sponsor
  • Evidence of your relationship with sponsor’s child
  • Certificate of birth/adoption of the child
  • Evidence of studying
  • Official letter of the education provider. It must give details of such studies. The dates presented in the letter must confirm that the child has started studying there since before their EEA parent died/left the UK.

Divorced from the sponsor

You’re eligible for an EEA PR Permit as you’re a former spouse/civil partner or their family member who has ended a marriage/civil partnership with an EEA citizen on or after April 20, 2006. Since the divorce/annulment/dissolution with the EEA sponsor, you’ve remained here with retained rights of residence. Your continual years lived here are not less than five.

Send also these documents when applying for an EEA (PR) card as a non-EEA family member of a sponsor with whom you’ve broken a marriage/civil partnership with:

  • Certificate of marriage/civil partnership.
  • Evidence of having ended your marriage/civil partnership with the sponsor.
  • Decree absolute. (For marriage).
  • Decree of nullity. (For marriage/civil partnership).
  • Certificate of dissolution. (For civil partnership).
  • Overseas equivalent court evidences.

Derivative Rights of Residence

As a non-EEA citizen you are eligible to apply for an EEA Family Permit for joining or accompanying a person with rights of residence in the UK under the Derivative Rights of Residence Route. To be eligible for an EEA family permit under Derivative Rights of Residence are the following:

  • You’re the main caregiver of a British child, or a dependent British adult. (‘Zambrano cases’).
  • You’re the main caregiver of a self-sufficient and financially independent EEA child. (‘Chen cases’).
  • You’re studying in the UK and you’re the child of an existing/former EEA worker in the UK, or you’re the main caregiver of such child. (‘Ibrahim and Teixeira cases’).
  • You’re a dependent child younger than 18, of any such main caregivers.

Note: You will not need to take up an EEA Family Permit to re-enter the UK if you have a valid Derivative Residence Card.

How to Qualify for a Derivative Rights of Residence Permit?

You’ll not normally qualify to apply for an EEA family permit related to the Derivative Rights of Residence, just by enjoying the aforementioned relationship with the UK resident here.

Here are listed the qualifying circumstances when you can apply for an EEA Family Member related to Derivative Rights of Residence:

  • You’re the main caregiver. You must qualify as a main caregiver. This means that you must be a direct family member (parent, grandparent, spouse/civil partner, adopted or natural child, or grandchild), or otherwise a legal guardian of a dependent sponsor. The care you’ll be offering must be on a daily basis. As such, you’ll have to guide your dependent sponsor and decide regarding their studies, health, finances, travels, social life and similar issues. The dependency that your sponsor has on you must be crucial for their well being. This can be explained in a simple way: if you will leave the UK, they will need to accompany you to the foreign country where you’ll be living.
  • You’re a child of a caregiving parent with ‘Derivative Rights of Residence.’ You must be strongly dependent on your parent. If you cannot join them, they would have to leave the UK.
  • You’re a child of former EEA worker. Your parent must have either left the UK, or currently lives here but must have stopped being a worker here. You must be currently studying here; your parent must have worked here when you lived here. Additionally, they must have lived here when you’ve started studies here. What’s more, you must not qualify to get a residence card or registration certificate.
  • You’re the main carer of a child of a former EEA worker. The dependent child you will take care of must be strongly dependent on you, in that way that would be essential for them to continue studying.

What are the required documents to apply for a Derivative Rights of Residence permit?

There is a list of required evidences you’ll have to provide to confirm your eligibility to obtain an EEA permit of this category.

Here are documents to apply for an EEA Family Permit as a Derivative Rights of Residence case:

  • Evidence of dependency of UK resident on you.
    • Court orders.
    • Arrangements of caregiving.
  • Evidence that your sponsor lives in the UK. These proofs must display the current living address of the sponsor in here.
    • Rental agreement.
    • Utility bills.
    • Bank statements.
    • Formal letter send to them by post.
  • Evidence that your sponsor is financially independent and has a full health insurance. (If your sponsor is an EEA citizen child).
    • Fully covered health insurance.
    • Bank statements showing enough available money.
  • Evidence to provide if you’re a child of an EEA worker.
    • Evidence that you are studying in the UK.
  • Letter from your education provider in the UK. It must show you were studying there while your EEA parent was employer in the UK.
    • Evidence that your EEA parent was/is a worker in the UK.
  • Your parent’s rental agreements, their bank statements, or their pay lips for the employment period.
  • Letter issued by your EEA parent’s employer. It has to show details of your parent’s employment history.

Surinder Singh Route

The Surinder Singh route is an EEA Residence Permit that allows UK citizens that lived in an EEA country to return in the UK and bring their non-EEA family member’s with whom they’ve lived in an EEA state.

The route is only applicable to British citizens whose reason for living elsewhere in EEA area was to build up or to strengthen their family life.

EEA Residence Card Validity

The maximum period you’re getting through the EEA Residence Card is 5 years. After this of continuously living in the UK, you’ll be able to require the UK permanent residence card.

Despite this, your EEA residence card cannot be used after 31 December 2020, as it must be replaced with the settled or pre-settled status by applying at the scheme which opens in March 2019.

The application and related fees

The fee you’ll need paying to apply for EEA Residence Card is 65£, while the fee to offer the biometric information is about 19.20£ and is done in one of the post offices.

If you’re younger than 16 you’ll have to be accompanied by your parent/guardian/officially responsible person during the application process. If you’re under the age of 6, you’ll not be required to submit your fingerprints data, only a digital photo.

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