British citizens who want to sponsor a family member to join them in the must usually face the draconian Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, including the strict financial requirement and language-testing rules.
However, British citizens who have exercised free movement rights in other European states can often use European law to bring their family on their return to the UK, based on the principles established in the case known as “Surinder Singh”. These principles continue to apply to some families living in Europe even after Brexit.
If you want to consider using the “Surinder Singh” route to reunite with your family in the UK, you need to consider some of the following:
- The principle applies if you have been exercising your free movement rights in another European state (this usually means you were working in another European state, but could include studying or being self-sufficient)
- The UK’s Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (and the previous 2006 Regulations) attempt to cover the Surinder Singh route but they make additional requirements that are not part of the relevant case law.
- The British government views rights under this route as a “loophole”: official policy appears to be to make things difficult for British citizens and their family members arriving in the UK under Surinder Singh principles.
- The route is more difficult to navigate if you are not an immediate family member: unmarried partners face particular intransigence from UK Visas & Immigration even if their relationship has been recognised by another member state.
The “Settled Status” scheme under the Immigration Rules does provide for people who have already entered the UK under the “Surinder Singh” route, but it does not cover new entrants. Family Permits may continue to be issued under the 2016 Regulations, however.
I advise on a wide range of difficult family circumstances where clients benefit from EU free movement rights. If you believe that you could qualify for family reunion in the UK using Surinder Singh case law, please contact me to discuss your case.