What Can You Do with EU Family Permits?
Do you have a family member from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and want to visit the UK?
If so, you might qualify for the free EU Settlement Scheme family permit (there is no charge for applying).
In some cases, the family members of an eligible person of Northern Ireland may also be able to apply.
Note: The family members of some British citizens can also apply for the EU Settlement Scheme family permit to join them. But, you can only complete the family permit application process from outside the UK.
Having an EU Settlement family permit means it will be easier to travel with your relatives to – or join them in – the United Kingdom (for up to six months).
Furthermore, you would be able to work and study, and enter and leave the UK an unlimited number of times, until the family permit expires. So, it removes the uncertainty of not getting a boarding pass, or being refused entry into the United Kingdom.
Note: People who apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status), and made a successful application, will be able to stay longer in the United Kingdom.
How to Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
You can apply (either):
- For a family permit before visiting the UK and then apply to the scheme when you get here (if completed before the deadline).
- To the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the United Kingdom (if you qualify).
To apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside of the United Kingdom, you must be from (either):
- The EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein with a valid passport or national identity card that contains a biometric chip.
- Some other country with a ‘valid’ UK-issued biometric residence card.
strong>Note: The main section contains more advice and information about visa rules and regulations, including tourist and short stay visa applications.
Family Permit Eligibility Criteria
There is more than one way to qualify for an EU family permit. In simple terms, the circumstances that make you eligible will affect the way you apply.
EU Countries (and others)
Are you a family member of an individual from one of the countries in the European Union (EU), Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein (or a ‘frontier worker’)?
If so, you will be able to apply if you’re joining a family member from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Iceland (e.g. if they started living in the UK no later than the 31st of December 2020).
The same opportunities for getting family permits also applies to family members with British citizenship, if:
- Their citizenship is from either the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, providing they lived in the UK before becoming a British citizen (recognised as a ‘Lounes case law’).
- They have dual nationality with one of the EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, and they settled in the UK before the 16th of July 2012 without using their free movement rights (recognised as a ‘McCarthy’ case EU law).
Retaining the Right of Residence
You may apply if you have ‘retained the right of residence’. Simply put, this relates to having a qualifying family member living in the UK (by the 31st of December 2020), but they have since (any):
- Left the United Kingdom.
- Had a breakdown of the family relationship.
Family Members of a British Citizens
You can also apply if you lived outside the UK with a British citizen if you lived with them (before 1st of January 2021) in one of the EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein (also called a ‘Surinder Singh’ application).
Eligible Persons of Northern Ireland
You can apply if you’re joining a person of Northern Ireland (e.g. an eligible person). To qualify, the relative must be either an Irish, British, or dual British and Irish citizen, born in Northern Ireland.
They would need to have had a parent who held British, Irish, or dual citizenship when they were born (or had no restriction on staying in Northern Ireland).
Important: Following a successful application (e.g. after you get a family permit), you will be able to check how long it lasts and when you will be able to apply to stay longer in the United Kingdom.
Visa and Immigration Help Guides
- Documents required for tuberculosis test for UK visa.
- Spouse visa curtailment after separation.
- SET (O) form used for visa fast track application.
Note: This short video presented by the Home Office explains why you and your family need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to protect your rights in the UK.