The purpose of the EEA Residence Cards, were designed for both EEA nationals and non-EEA family members to apply. For the EEA nationals, their EEA registration card is not obligatory however for their family members, it is required, ideally for employment and travel.
You may be able to apply for a residence card if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you’re the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national.
Usually, a non-EEA family member following their grant of the EEA Family Permit would apply for the long term residency card. This will allow them to enjoy the free movement rights as enjoyed by their EEA family member.
EEA registration card
The policy is set out in the EEA Regulations 2016, and allows an EEA national to apply for a registration card. It is not required, however helps in confirming your right of residency in the UK.
As an EEA national, you would be able to change the basis of your stay as long as you continue to exercise the free movement rights in the UK. For example, a student can switch to become a worker and count both periods of leave towards acquiring permanent residence providing the relevant conditions are met. The policy is flexible and aims to allow the free movement rights.
After the UK leaves the European Union (EU), EU free movement will be brought to an end and all documentation issued to European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens, and their family members, under EU law will cease to be valid. After free movement is brought to an end, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members will require a UK immigration status in order to remain in the UK.
A glance on the EEA Residency Card
EEA residence cards are issued to EEA nationals' family members who are not EEA nationals themselves. The card is, in fact, a sticker (also called a 'vignette'), placed in your passport, which confirms your right of residence in the UK under European law.
However recently, those EEA residence cards are now issued as a biometric cards however if you do not hold one, don’t worry. The Settlement Scheme have now replaced this legacy system.
In short, the EEA residence cards are valid for 5 years, and you should produce it as evidence of your status when asked to do so. (In some circumstances, Home Office may issue you with an immigration status document instead of a vignette in your passport).
You don’t need to apply for a residence card as a family member but it can:
help you re-enter the country more quickly and easily if you travel abroad;
show employers you’re allowed to work in the UK;
help prove you qualify for certain benefits and services.
The requirements of the EEA Residency Card
You can apply for a residence card if you are a person who is outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and are the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national who is a permanent resident or ‘qualified person’.
You may also be eligible for a residence card if you have a ‘retained right of residence’ or apply as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.
The EEA Regulations 2016 defines a person who is a qualified person and one of the following applies:
they’re looking for work (only if they meet certain conditions).
You can apply as a direct family member if you’re related to the EEA national as their spouse or civil partner, their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) child or grandchild who is under 21 or a dependant their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent parent or grandparent. There are separate provisions applicable to the family members of students.
Retained rights of residence
There are a number of ways that you, as a non-EEA national family member can retain your rights of residency in the UK. Here are some of the examples:
your marriage or civil partnership to an EEA citizen has ended (with a divorce, annulment or dissolution);
your EEA family member has died and you lived in the UK as their family member for at least one year before their death;
you’re in education and you’re the child of an EEA citizen (or their current or former spouse or civil partner) who has left the UK or died;
your child has a retained right of residence because they’re in education in the UK (and you have custody of them).
Surinder Singh cases also referred as a family member of a British citizen
Following the EEA Regulation 2016 changes, a person who is a British citizen, has been employed at a member state, can bring non-EEA family members to the UK, providing that they had genuinely resided at a member state.
To be eligible, you must be a citizen of a country outside the EEA and:
the family member of a British citizen;
have lived with them in another EEA country where they worked or were self-employed before returning to the UK;
be able to show that your UK sponsor based their ‘centre of life’ in the EEA country in which you both were a resident before returning to the UK.
Refusal of an EEA Residency Card
If your application for an EEA Residency Card is refused, you will be able to appeal against the decision. You will have 14 days to lodge an appeal against the decision. The First Tier Tribunal will act as the intermediary to your appeal.
When appealing against the refusal, you will be asked to complete the claim form, submit the legal grounds and evidences.
We recommend that you take some legal advice at first, to see whether the decision was reached correctly or not. You can email us a copy of the decision letter to email@example.com.
As part of our process, we will advise whether you should appeal the decision or re-apply for the EEA Residency Card. We will explain our reasons on why you should either appeal or submit a new application.
Legal advice for the EEA Residence Card
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