EU Settlement Scheme ('EUSS') Family Permits enable certain people to enter the UK. The application is free (unlike family applications under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules) and provides a first step towards settling in the UK permanently. Those wishing to settle should apply to the EUSS within three months of entering the UK on an EUSS Family Permit.
The categories of applicants who may be eligible for an EUSS Family Permit are much wider than one might think. This post sets out who may be eligible to apply for an EUSS Family Permit.
Who is eligible to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit?
The relevant law on EUSS Family Permits is found in the Immigration Rules at Appendix-EU (Family Permit).
Family Permits are available to non-EEA citizens and specified EEA citizens who are either family members of relevant EEA citizens or of qualifying British ('QB') citizens. Each of these categories can be summarised as follows:
Non-EEA citizens and specified EEA citizens include everyone except British citizens. This means that EUSS Family Permit applicants can be citizens of any country in the world except the UK, as long as they are the family member of a relevant EEA citizen or QB citizen.
Relevant EEA citizen can mean any of the following:
- An EEA citizen who has status under the EUSS. This can include EEA citizens who have now died;
- A dual EEA/British citizen who was living in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, and was qualified before they became British. Qualified means being resident in the UK while either working, or being a student or self-sufficient person with private health insurance;
- An Irish citizen who either has status under the EUSS, or they can show they spent a period of time resident in the UK before 01 July 2021;
- A British and/or Irish citizen who was born in Northern Ireland, and at the time of their birth, one of their parents was British and/or Irish or had a permanent right to reside in Northern Ireland. The British and/or Irish citizen must have spent a period of time resident in the UK before 01 July 2021;
- A person who has been granted a Frontier Worker permit under the Citizens' Rights (Frontier Workers) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.
Qualifying British citizen ('QB') can mean either of the following:
- A British citizen who, before 11pm on 31 December 2020, had permanent residence in an EEA state, and lives or lived there with the Applicant. Note that the QB and the Applicant's residence must be genuine. Genuine residence is residence where family life is created or strengthened in the EEA State, and is not just a way to avoid the more stringent requirements and expense of an application under other UK immigration routes; or
- A British citizen who, both before 11pm on 31 December 2020 and at the date of application is (or was immediately before returning to the UK) a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or student in an EEA state and lived in an EEA state with the Applicant. Again, the residence must be 'genuine'.
This can include QBs who have now died.
Note that if the family relationship began on or after 01 February 2020, the British citizen should have been back in the UK by 31 December 2020. However, late applications are still possible if there are reasonable grounds for the QB's failure to return by this time. If the relationship started before 01 February 2020, then it is possible to apply anytime before 11pm on 29 March 2022.
Family members of relevant EEA citizens can mean any of the following:
- Spouses who married before 11pm on 31 December 2020;
- Civil partners who entered into a civil partnership before 11pm on 31 December 2020;
- The spouse or civil partner of a Swiss citizen, where the marriage or civil partnership began before 01 January 2026;
- Unmarried partners who had been living together for at least two years by 11pm on 31 December 2020;
- A child, grandchild, or great-grandchild (including adoptive children), under the age of 21, of either the EEA or of their spouse or civil partner;
- A dependent child, grandchild and great-grandchild (including adoptive children), age 21 or over, of either the EEA or their spouse or civil partner. Dependent means that the applicant cannot meet their essential living needs (re financial or social conditions or health) without the EEA citizen's support;
- A parent, grandparent or great-grandparent of either the EEA citizen or their spouse or civil partner.
Family members of QB citizens are any of the following:
- Spouses who married before 11pm on 31 January 2020;
- Civil partners who entered into a civil partnership before 11pm on 31 January 2020;
- Unmarried partners who had been living together for at least two years by 11pm on 31 January 2020;
- A child (including adoptive child), under the age of 21, of either the QB citizen or of their spouse or civil partner;
- A dependent child (including adoptive child), age 21 or over, of either the QB citizen or their spouse or civil partner;
- A parent of either the QB citizen or their spouse or civil partner;
- A dependent relative of the QB, where they have a strict need for the personal care of the QB on serious health grounds;
The definitions above are not exhaustive, as the scope of EUSS Family Permit applications is extensive. For example, certain family members of relevant EEA nationals who have suffered domestic violence may also apply, and a wide range of family members may be eligible after a relevant relationship has come to an end, for example through divorce.
Applications under Appendix EU (Family Permit) can require careful preparation and extensive evidence. Applicants will have to prove family relationships, and may have to show that complicated requirements are met, such as dependency, qualification or historic immigration status under older legislation. It is important to seek professional advice to ensure that the relevant criteria are properly met and evidenced.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.