European Union Law

The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

eu lawAlthough not members of the European Union (EU), citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have the same rights as EU citizens in regard to their ability to enter, live in and work in the UK.

By exercising their rights of residence, nationals of the EEA and Switzerland are permitted to work and live in the UK. They can therefore live or pursue employment in any EU member state of their choice. However, it is essential that the individual is able to prove that they can support themselves and their family (if they are in the UK) without reliance on public funds, e.g. housing benefits.


Any EU national can exercise their right to have immediate family members join them in the UK. Family members are considered to be:

* Parents and grandparents must be dependent to some extent on the person residing in the UK or their partner for this right to apply.

Relatives such as extended family members like brothers, sisters and cousins do not possess the automatic right to reside in the UK. For such relatives, more requirements need to be met to obtain this right. Unmarried partners can be classed as extended family members; however, applications can still be considered if they fulfil the necessary criteria. In particular, they must have been in a continuous and lasting relationship with the person living in the UK.

Non-EEA family members

If the EU national’s family members are not EEA or Swiss nationals, they can come with the individual or join them in the UK, subject to certain restrictions. An EEA family permit may need to be applied for before coming to the UK.

An EEA family permit is a permit allowing a family to enter the UK, similar to a visa. These are necessary for those who are nationals of countries outside the EEA but are family members of EEA nationals.

If the EEA national is outside the UK and is not travelling with them, the non-EEA family member must instead apply for a visa (if they need one) before they can come to the UK.
If a family member that is not an EEA national is living in the UK and has a residence document proving their right to do so, they need not apply for an EEA family permit on each occasion they re-enter the UK from another country.

Despite the fact that the UK is a member of the EEA, a non-EEA family member of a British citizen should not generally enter the UK using an EEA family permit. However, a person who is a non-EEA family member of a British citizen living abroad can apply for an EEA family permit to join the British citizen on their return to the UK, on the conditions that the British citizen has been living in an EEA member state as a worker or self-employed individual and that the family member has been living with the citizen in the EEA country.

Turkish Citizens

Turkish citizens can benefit from the ECAA (European Community Association Agreement) that was signed between the European Union and Turkey in 1963. This allows Turkish citizens wishing to enter the UK or requesting leave to have their applications reviewed under the domestic rules that were in operation in 1973, when the UK joined the EU. Click here for more information.

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