The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. However, during the “transition period” the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 continue to provide European residence rights for EEA nationals living in the UK.
EEA nationals can also apply for permission to stay in the UK under the Immigration Rules by using the EU Settlement Scheme.
Free movement rights
European law provides a basic “free movement” right for the nationals of member states of the European Union to live in other member states as long as they are exercising “treaty rights”. This usually means working, studying or being self-sufficient. Nationals of states in the European Economic Area (“EEA”) are also included in the deal.
EEA nationals also have a right to have family members live with them in a host state where they are exercising treaty rights, even if those family members come from outside Europe. Immediate family members including spouses, civil partners, children up to the age of 21, and dependant parents are covered. Unmarried partners and more distant relatives may also be included depending on circumstances.
After living in the host state for 5 years in accordance with the law, people who come under the relevant laws may acquire a right of permanent residence.
Although residence rights under these laws are automatic, non-EEA nationals in the UK should apply for residence documents, or make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. This is because employers, landlords and other institutions such as banks and hospitals, may ask to see them as proof of an individual’s entitlement to live in the UK.
Find out more about the following applications:
- Brexit FAQs
- Family permit (entry to the UK for non-EEA family members)
- Residence Card
- Permanent Residence
- Family members of British citizens: “Surinder Singh” cases