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Guide to the EEA / UK residence card

There are many different types of UK visas to choose from when moving to the UK, however the lesser known option is the EEA (European Economic Area) Family Permit/ UK residence card.

Better than a work visa and dependent on your familial ties, the guide below covers what you need to know about the UK residence card before you move to the United Kingdom.

What is the EEA residence card?

Also known as the UK residence card, this card functions as a visa that enables one to live and work in the UK. The residence card lasts for up to five years, after which the recipient can apply for permanent residency.

EEA/EU Countries
Austria Belgium Bulgaria
Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic
Denmark Estonia Finland
France Germany Greece
Hungary Iceland Ireland
Italy Latvia Liechtenstein
Lithuania Luxembourg Malta
Netherlands Norway Poland
Portugal Romania Slovakia
Slovenia Spain Sweden
Switzerland UK

Who is eligible for the UK residence card?

If you are the family member or extended family member of a EEA citizen and you aren’t currently an EEA national yourself, e.g. partner of an EEA national. Your family member must be a ‘qualified person’ in the eyes of the UK government, which means that he or she should be studying or working in some capacity.

Direct family members

Direct family members of EEA nationals are considered only spouses, civil partners, children or grandchildren under 21, or dependent parent or grandparent. The criteria is different for those applying as a relative of a student in the UK.

Extended family members

Extended family members of EEA citizens are considered unmarried partners in a similar situation to civil partnership or marriage, or a relative not mentioned under the direct family member list. The latter list includes siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

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What is the cost of an EEA residence card?

Currently, the UK government is charging a fee of £65 GBP; however this card used to be free to apply for in recent years, suggesting the fee may rise again.

How to apply

Visit gov.uk to download one of the 2 available application forms; one is for direct family members and the other is for extended family members. The cost and processing times are so far the same.

You have to post the application and supporting documents to the Home Office along with the fee. As this type of UK visa is becoming increasingly popular, processing times for this can take anywhere from two to six months.

You may request to have the supporting documents sent back to you before the decision is made - for instance you and your EEA family member’s passports - that will not affect your application.

Things to keep in mind when you apply

  • If you have travel plans within the six months from the day you submit your application, make sure that is included with your application.

  • If any of your documents aren’t in English, or Welsh, you will have to submit certified translations of each document.

  • You will also have to provide biometric information, which can easily be done at any UK Post Office and currently costs just under £20 GBP.

  • You will know if your application has been successful when you receive a letter from the Home Office. Your supporting documents and residence card should appear in the post within two weeks.

  • If your passport expires prior to the end of the five year duration of your UK residence card, you will unfortunately have to reapply for the UK residence card. The card is non transferable to new passports, even if you have years left on the UK residence card. The same goes for any damaged, lost, expired, or stolen UK residence cards.

Advice for using your UK residence card

While you may work and live in the UK under this card, you are not eligible to work and live in any other EEA or EU country. If you should move from the UK to another country in Europe, you will have to figure out a new visa for that country.

Also, when travelling abroad you are still considered a citizen of your home country and must provide that passport. However, you do get to go through the UK/EU passport line at UK Border Control - just show your residence card and answer a few questions.