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Get UK permanent residency as an EU national

European Union (EU) nationals can move to the UK to live and work by exercising their EU treaty rights. They can also bring extended family members to the UK.


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).

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.

South Africa

Cape Town

Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


201 The Annex
Ridgeside Office Park
Umhlanga +27 (0) 31 536 8843

United Kingdom


Castlewood House
77/91 New Oxford Street
WC1A 1DG +44 (0) 20 7759 7514


5-7 Selsdon Road
South Croydon
CR2 6PU +44 (0) 20 7759 7581



9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services License issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS License number 335 126).

Please note: Sable International is a trading name of Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd. Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd is registered in the UK with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) under no. F2001-00004. Our staff based outside of the UK are not regulated by the OISC and may be involved in some client casework. However, they work to the same high standards as our UK staff and clients receive the same service regardless of which office they engage with.

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