EU citizens and treaty rights in the UK
To remain legally in the UK, you need to be exercising European Union (EU) treaty rights. This would require that you are a student, working or self-sufficient. On 27 October 2015, new regulations were passed in the UK to prevent EU citizens applying for British nationality if they do not first hold a permanent residence card.
After a period of five years' continuous residency in the UK, you can apply for this permanent residence card (as long as you meet the set of criteria) and then to naturalise as a British citizen after a further 12 months.
Visas for partners of EU nationals
The EEA family permit allows you to join your EU national partner or family member in the UK. The basic criteria are:
- You must apply from outside the EEA
- You must be a family or "extended" family member of an EU national
As a non-EU national applying for an EEA family permit, you will only be able to apply if the EEA citizen you are joining in the UK is:
- Already living in the UK
- Travelling with you to the UK within the next six months
If the EEA citizen you are joining has been in the UK for over three months, then he or she will need to be a qualified person. This means they are working, studying, self-sufficient or looking for work in the UK or hold permanent right of residence.
Read more information on partner visas for people in a relationship with an EU national.
Permanent residence card
Once you have been given permission to join your partner in the UK, you can apply for a residence card. It will make travelling abroad much easier and will show potential employers that you are able to work in the UK.
Visas are still available for parents wanting to join their children, although this is usually only possible when the parent is financially dependent on the child in the UK (for European passport holders) or when a parent is unable to function in their home country due to illness or disability (British passport holders).
Spouse or partner visas
The definition of an eligible partner is a:
- Spouse (husband, wife or civil partner)
- Unmarried or same-sex partner
- Fiancé or proposed civil partner
Partner visa applicants are usually required to provide evidence that the relationship is on-going and genuine.
Other prerequisites include a minimum age of 18 (for partners), evidence of accommodation, passing the minimum income threshold for the British citizen and the relevant family member must pass an approved English language test.
Visas in this class are issued for two years and six months, and you will be able to extend it towards the end of this period.
Find out how to apply for a UK partner visa.
EEA family permit
The EEA family permit is similar to a visa, as it allows you to enter and leave the UK as a non-EEA family member of an EEA national.
An EEA national who lives and works in the UK can sponsor a family member. The definition of a family member is generous and includes a child, parent, fiancé, unmarried partner, grandchild or grandparent.
Any successful applicant can study, work or live in the UK without restriction.
Applicants may eventually be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain and British nationality.