21 November 2020

The transition period between the UK and the European Union (EU) is coming to an end on 31 December 2020.   It has been well-advertised that EU/EEA nationals living in the UK who wish to stay must apply for Settled or Pre-Settled Status under the UK’s EU Settled Status Scheme (the Scheme) before the end of the grace period in June 2021.  But what about family members of EU/EEA citizens who are not already in the country?  Can they apply to enter and remain under the Scheme via an EEA Family Permit?

Non-EU family members of EU nationals (NEFM) are a significant group of people whose rights to enter and live in the UK will change once freedom of movement ends.  Examples of NEFM include a:

  • New Zealand man married to a German woman
  • child or parent of an EU/EEA national living in the UK
  • Nigerian mother of a child born in France and now living in the UK (Zambrano carer)

What is concerning is that NEFM applications under the Scheme have a high refusal rate.  Statistics released by the Home Office in September 2020 show to date, there had been 205,990 applications to the Scheme by non-EEA nationals (with 151,160 concluded decisions.  However, NEFM applications make up around 50% of refusals, despite only accounting for 5.5% (as at June 2020) of applications under the Scheme.  For Zambrano carers, the refusal rate rises to 61%.

Along with refusals, it is clear that many NEFM’s are not applying for Settled or Pre-Settled Status.  This may be because virtually all the emphasis surrounding the promotion of the Scheme has thus far focused on EU/EEA nationals.

Another group that has not received attention are NEFM who have not yet entered the UK but are family members of EU/EEA nationals who have attained Pre-Settled Status.  This group can still apply for an EEA Family Permit after 31 December 2020 until 30 June 2021.  Furthermore, if a NEFM is not living in the UK by the deadline, they may still be able to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit if all of the following are true:

  • their family member has either Settled or Pre-Settled Status
  • their relationship began before 31 December 2020
  • they remain a close family member, for example, a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, a dependent child or grandchild, or a dependent parent or grandparent

If you do come to the UK on an EEA Family Permit, you must register for Pre-Settled Status under the Scheme within three months of arriving.  After living in the UK for five years, you can apply for Settled Status.

Applying for an EEA Family Permit

The following criteria must be met to qualify for an EEA Family Permit:

  • You are a family member or extended family member of an EEA national who is already in the country or traveling with you to the UK within six months of your application
  • If the family member who is an EU/EEA national has been residing in the UK for more than three months, they must be exercising their Treaty rights as an employee, self-employed person, student, or self-sufficient person
  • You will be living in the same house as the EU/EEA national

A family member is defined as:

  • a spouse
  • civil partner
  • a partner who you have lived within a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years (this includes same-sex partners)
  • a dependent child or grandchild under 21 years, or
  • a dependent parent or grandparent

Extended family members include siblings, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and cousins who are dependent on you for their day-to-day care.

In summary

If you are the family member of an EU/EEA national (as defined by the above criteria) you must seek expert legal advice if you want to live in the UK after the transition period ends.  As mentioned above, the refusal rate for family members is high, given the complexities of some routes, for example, Zambrano.  An immigration lawyer will carefully assess your situation and advise you on the best immigration route in which to come to the UK.  They will then work with you to ensure you achieve Pre-Settled and later, Settled Status.

To find out more about applying for an EU Family Permit or Pre-Settled or Settled Status, please call us on +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or fill in our contact form.

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