EEA Family Permit UK – Process, Cost and Surinder Singh Route Explained
EEA Family Permit helps non-EU family members of EEA nationals to enter in the UK. Many EEA nationals and their families are understandably nervous about their right to remain in the UK post-Brexit. If you are the family member of an EEA national, you may have heard of an EEA Family Permit. Having one is not mandatory; Article 5 of the Directive 2004/38/EC, also known as the Citizens’ Rights Directive, permits member states to require that family members of non-EEA nationals obtain entry visas before travelling to the host state. However, in instances where the family member does not obtain a visa, the host state must allow “every reasonable opportunity… to prove by other means that they are covered by the right of free movement and residence”.
Despite Article 5’s instruction, not having an EEA Family Permit can lead to problems entering the UK as it is possible that entry-clearance officer is unaware of the wider EU laws. Some carriers (sea and air) prevent family members of EU nationals from boarding if not holding a family permit. In addition, family members have been known to have been refused entry at the UK border if they cannot produce an EEA Family Permit.
What is the Process of Obtaining an EEA Family Permit?
There is a two-stage procedure for family members of EEA nationals who wish to come and live in the UK. The first step is to apply for an EEA Family Permit from outside of the UK, which provides a form of entry clearance. Once you arrive in the country, you can apply for an EEA Residence Card. It is important to note that an EEA Residence Card application can take significantly longer than other immigration applications as there are many applications pending, and there is no provision for same-day service via the Premium Service Centres. It is important to take this into consideration if you are providing your passport and that of you EEA national family member as supporting documents, as they may not be returned for some weeks.
Instructing an immigration lawyer to manage your application can prevent major delays as they will ensure your application is filled in correctly and can quickly answer any questions UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may have.
It is also important to note an EEA Family Permit can be revoked if:
- The EEA national who is your family member ceases to have the right to stay in the UK
- You cease to become a family member of the EEA national
- Revocation is justified on permitted grounds of public policy, public security, or public health
If any of these situations suddenly apply to you, it is crucial you seek legal advice immediately to ensure you can remain in the country legally. Options such as ‘retained right of residence’ may be open to you.
How Much Does it Cost to Get an EEA Family Permit?
One of the advantages of an EEA Family Permit is there is no application fee. In addition, it is valid for six months and you can travel freely in and out of the country during that time. After this period, you can apply for an EEA Residence Card
Client says, “A Y & J solicitors were an absolute God-send. They supported me through each painstaking step of my application process. I rapidly became assured that I was in good hands and found their advice to be clear, calm and sound.
I rapidly became assured that I was in good hands and found their advice to be clear, calm and sound.
What is the Surinder Singh Route?
After the toughening up of the Immigration Rules in 2012 and the introduction of the Minimum Income Threshold for UK Spouse/Unmarried Partner and Fiancé Visa, many EEA nationals now take advantage provided by EU law, known as the Surinder Singh route.
The rule comes from the case of R v. Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Surinder Singh  3 CMLR 358. In essence, it states that the right in European Union law for a person to move from one Member State to another must include a right to return, otherwise a person may be reluctant to leave their home Member State in the first place. This is a right under European Law. Therefore, EU law, not the law of the member state, applies to family members of the EU citizen exercising their Treaty rights.
Following the case of Surinder Singh, O and B v The Netherlands clarified the Surinder Singh route. To qualify, the following must apply:
- the applicants must have been genuinely resident in the other Member State for at least three months
- during that period, family life must have been established or strengthened
- abuse of the route is not permitted
Currently, regulation 9 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 sets out how the UK government interprets the Surinder Singh rule. Significantly, to qualify, the ‘centre of the British citizen’s life’ must have been transferred to the host Member State. There is no mention of this requirement in O and B v The Netherlands, it was created by the British Government to restrict the number of families able to bypass the UK Spouse Visa requirements and enter the UK via EU laws.
As you can see, the Surinder Singh route is complex, and couples could easily fail to satisfy the ‘centre of life’ test if they do not receive specialist legal advice.
With Brexit looming ever-closer, family members of EEA nationals have a right to be concerned regarding their legal status to remain in the country. EEA national including British should also be worried about how their non-EU dependents under the EU Law will be affected once the BREXIT happens. We have helped many families and brought successful results.
For assistance with all matters relating to EEA Family Permits and Permanent Residence Cards, talk to one of our team for friendly, practical, accurate advice.
Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.