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.
You can apply for a residence card if you’re both:
- from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
- the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national who is a permanent resident or ‘qualified person’
Whether you’re a family member or an extended family member affects the form you use when you apply.
You may also be eligible for a residence card if you have a ‘retained right of residence’ or apply as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.
A qualified person is someone who is in the UK and one of the following applies:
- they’re working
- they’re self-employed
- they’re self-sufficient
- they’re studying
- they’re looking for work (only if they meet certain conditions)
Family members of EEA citizens
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
If the EEA national is a student, you can only qualify as their family member if you’re:
- their spouse or civil partner
- their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent child
Other relatives of students must qualify as extended family members.
Read more about direct family members of EEA nationals.
Extended family members
You can apply as an extended family member if you’re either:
- the unmarried partner of the EEA national and you’re in a lasting relationship with them that’s similar to a marriage or civil partnership
- a relative of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) but you don’t qualify as their family member
Relatives include brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces and cousins. Relatives can also include grandchildren, parents and grandparents if the EEA national only has the right to reside as a student.
As well as being a relative of the EEA national, one of the following must be true:
- you were dependent on the EEA national before coming to the UK, and you’re still dependant on them while in the UK
- you were dependant on a member of the EEA national’s household before coming to the UK, and you’re still dependant on them while in the UK
- you need the personal care of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) on serious health grounds
Extended family members must have a valid EEA permit or residence card to stay in the UK.
Your application is considered based on your individual circumstances and you may not be approved for a residence card even if you meet the conditions.
Read more about extended family members of EEA nationals.
Other ways you may be eligible
Retained rights of residence
You can also apply if you used to have a family member, or extended family member, who was a permanent resident or qualified person. This is called a ‘retained right of residence’. You may get this if, for example:
- 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)
You’ll need to prove:
- that your family member, or extended family member, was a permanent resident or qualified person at the time your family relationship ended
- how the relationship ended, eg death certificate or decree absolute if you divorced
You can only retain your right of residence as an extended family member if both the following apply:
- you currently hold a valid residence card as the extended family member of an EEA national
- you meet all of the relevant conditions
You can’t retain your right of residence if you were the unmarried partner of the EEA national and that relationship has broken down.
Read more about retained rights of EEA nationals’ family members.
Surinder Singh cases
You may be able to apply for a residence card as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.
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 resident before returning to the UK
You can prove your UK sponsor genuinely moved to another EEA country with:
- proof of their address, how long they lived there and any other related information, eg if they bought a house
- proof of their integration in the EEA country where they lived, eg whether they speak the language, have any children born there or were involved with the local community
If you have been living in the UK for at least five years with your partner who is an EEA national, you can be given confirmation of your right to permanent residence. This is not mandatory and you will not lose this right if you do not apply for confirmation, but it may be required in order to prove your permanent resident status to employers.
You’re eligible if both:
- you’ve lived with your European Economic Area (EEA) family member in the UK for a continuous 5 year period
- your EEA family member has been a ‘qualified person’ throughout the 5 years or has a permanent right of residence
You can also get permanent residence if you’ve lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years:
- as the extended family member of an EEA national and you’ve held a valid EEA family permit or residence card throughout
- first as the family member of an EEA national and then with a retained right of residence
- as the family member of the relevant British citizen, if you entered the UK under the ‘Surinder Singh’ route
You can get permanent residence before 5 years if either:
- you were living with your EEA national family member, who was working or self-employed in the UK, immediately before their death
- your EEA national family member was working or self-employed in the UK but has ‘ceased activity’ (stopped work or self-employment because of retirement or permanent incapacity, or because they’re now working or self-employed in another EEA state but are still resident and return to the UK at least once a week)
There are other conditions you need to meet to get permanent residence.
You’ll be asked to provide your biometric information as part of your application.
You can do this at certain Post Office branches. It costs £19.20.
You’ll need to:
- have a digital photo taken of your face
- put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned
- give your signature
The process takes less than 5 minutes and doesn’t involve any ink or mess.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or someone over 18 who has legal responsibility for the child. If the responsible adult isn’t the parent or guardian, they must be named on the application form.
Children under 6 years old don’t need to provide fingerprints but must have a digital photo taken of their face.
If you have a medical or physical condition
If you don’t have any fingers or hands you’ll only need to have a digital photo taken of your face. It will be noted on your records that you’re physically unable to provide fingerprints.
If you or any dependants need any special arrangements to give your biometrics, include a letter from your doctor with your application. The letter must include the details of your condition and the special arrangements you need.