The EU Settlement Scheme EUSS family permit allows a close family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was in the UK by 31 December 2021, to join that person in the UK for up to six months. The EEA includes the EU counties, together with Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.
The close family member who wishes to join their EU / EEA / Swiss family member in the UK may be themselves a non-EEA citizen.
You can also apply for the EUSS family permit if you have lived in the EU, EEA of Switzerland as a close family member of a British citizen. You are also eligible to apply if you have a retained right of residence, for example, you have the right to remain in the UK as a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has died or left the UK or with whom the family relationship has broken down.
The EUSS family permit is usually valid for six months from the date of the decision on the application. During the six month period, the family member is allowed to work or study in the UK. They are also free to come and go from the UK as often as they wish.
However, the EUSS family permit will only be valid for four months if:
- you intend to arrive in the UK after 1 April, 2021; and
- your application is approved more than three months in advance of your planned arrival date.
The EUSS family permit will completely replace the EEA family permit from 30 June 2021. The EEA family permit was implemented in the UK under EU regulations, which will expire on 30 June, 2021. Until that date, EEA family permits will remain valid. However, even if there is time to run on an EEA family permit after that date, it will cease to be valid.
Applications for an EEA permit may still be made and it may still be worth some people applying for it. For example, a wider range of family members may be eligible for an EEA permit, including siblings, aunts and uncles.
However, in order to be able to travel to and stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 you will have to apply for an EUSS family permit, or another type of visa that allows you to stay in the UK lawfully. There is no deadline for making applications under the EUSS family permit scheme.
EUSS family permit eligibility requirements
The eligibility requirements are slightly different depending on whether your close family member is a qualifying EEA citizen, a qualifying British citizen, or you have a retained right of residence.
Where the family member is a qualifying EEA citizen
You are eligible to apply for an EUSS family permit if the following criterion are met:
- you are either an EEA citizen or a non-EEA citizen;
- you are the family member of a qualifying EEA citizen;
- the qualifying EEA citizen was living in the UK by 31 December, 2020;
- the qualifying EEA citizen is either already resident in the UK or will be travelling to the UK with you within six months of the date of the application; and
- you will be travelling with them or joining them within six months of the date of the application.
In addition, neither you nor your family member must be the spouse or partner of someone who has already been allowed to enter the UK under an EUSS family permit or an EEA family permit.
Who counts as a qualifying EEA citizen?
A person is a qualifying EEA citizen if they are a national of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of 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 or Switzerland. In this category, qualifying EEA citizens must be in possession of either settled or pre-settled status by 1 July, 2021. The exception to this is in the case of Irish citizens, who do not need to obtain settled or pre-settled status.
In addition, a qualifying EEA citizen can be a ‘person of Northern Ireland’. A person of Northern Ireland is either a British or Irish citizen or both, and they were born in Northern Ireland to at least one parent who was either British or Irish or both. A person of Northern Ireland does not need to be in possession of settled or pre-settled status.
Dual British and EEA citizens can also count as qualifying EEA citizens, as can naturalised British citizens, EU EEA and Swiss citizens who are ‘frontier workers’ and EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who are exempt from immigration control.
Where the family member is a qualifying British citizen
This is for close family members who have lived in an EU or EEA country or Switzerland with an eligible British citizen family member. The application for an EUSS family permit must be made before 29 March 2022, unless the British citizen can satisfy the UK Home Office that there are reasonable grounds for them not meeting the deadline.
You must have lived with them in the EU / EEA country or Switzerland before 1 January 2021 and will be required to show evidence that that country was your main residence and that the British citizen was working, studying or self-sufficient when they were there.
In addition, it is a requirement that the family relationship began before 1 February 2020, unless the British citizen had reasonable grounds for not returning to the UK before 1 January 2021.
Where you have a retained right of residence
You may have a retained right of residence if you previously had the right to reside in the UK as either the family member of an EU or EEA or Swiss citizen, or because you were living in the EU or EEA or Switzerland with a British citizen.
The right can arise in the following situations:
- your family member has died;
- you are their child and in education in the UK, and they have either died or left the UK;
- you had a child with them who is in education in the UK and they have either died or left the UK;
- they divorced you or another family member;
- the relationship has broken down because of domestic violence or abuse.
Who can make an application for an EUSS family permit?
The following kinds of family members are eligible to apply for an EUSS family permit.
In the following three categories, you will have to prove that the relationship continues to exist as at the date you make the application and that on 31 December 2020 you were already married or in a civil partnership, or were already in the durable relationship:
- civil partner
- durable partner, i.e. in a durable partnership, which is defined as the couple having lived together in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years (unless there is other significant evidence of the durable relationship)
For the following three categories, you will need to prove that the family relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist as at the date of your application:
- the child (or grand-child or great grand-child) who is aged under 21 of a qualifying British or EEA citizen or of their spouse or civil partner.
- the dependent child (or grand-child or great grand-child) of any age of a qualifying British or EEA citizen or of their spouse or civil partner.
- the dependent parent (or grand-parent or great grand-parent) of a qualifying British citizen or of their spouse or civil partner.
It is possible for children born or adopted after 31 December 2020 also to be eligible, as long as they are the child of a qualifying British or EEA citizen or of their spouse or civil partner.
In the case of a qualifying British citizen, there is an additional category of eligible family member: ‘dependent relative’.
How to apply for an EUSS family permit
You must complete the application form online.
You must also provide proof of your nationality and identity, and your biometrics. Biometrics means a passport-style photograph of your facial features and your fingerprints. These will be taken at a visa application centre.
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen then you can provide a valid national identity card instead of a passport.
You will also have to supply the relevant certificates, e.g. marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate or birth certificate.
Where your close family member has obtained settled or pre-settled status, you will have to supply their application number.
If they have not obtained EU settled or pre-settled status because they do not need to, then you will need to provide evidence showing that they are nevertheless entitled to it.
Where the close family member is your durable partner, you will have to show evidence of your life together, for example, official correspondence, bank statements or utility bills, birth certificate of your children or custody agreements.
You must be outside the UK when you make your application for an EUSS family permit.
How much is the EUSS family permit?
It is free to apply for a EU Settlement Scheme family permit.
You do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if you are applying for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.
What if the EUSS family permit application is refused?
If your application is refused, or once the EUSS family permit has expired, you will need to apply for a different type of visa to be able to stay in the UK.
If the qualifying EEA citizen was already living in the UK by 31 December 2020, then you may be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in your own right. This is also free, but the deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. However, if you join your family member after 1 April 2021 then you are able to apply for settlement within three months of your arrival. If you are not able to apply for settlement within this three month period then you will have to show reasonable grounds for not doing so.
If the qualifying EEA citizen came to the UK on or after 1 January 2021, it is likely you will have to apply for a visa in order to be able to stay in the UK. Your options will depend on your circumstances, and could include a visa to study or work.
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. If you have a query about your eligibility to enter or remain in the UK, contact us for advice on your options.
EUSS Family Permit FAQs
Who can apply for EUSS?
You can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme family permit if you are a close family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was in the UK by 31 December 2020. You can also apply for the EUSS family permit if you have lived in the EU, EEA of Switzerland as a close family member of a British citizen. You are also eligible to apply if you have a retained right of residence, for example, you have the right to stay in the UK as a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has died or left the UK or with whom the family relationship has broken down.
What is EU settlement Family Permit?
The EU Settlement Scheme family permit allows a close family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was living in the UK by 31 December, 2020 to join their family member in the UK for up to six months. During that time the family member can work or study and leave and return to the UK as often as they like. It is free to apply for the family permit.
Who is eligible for EEA family permit?
You are eligible for the EEA family permit if you are the close family member or unmarried partner of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and your family relationship started before the 31st December, 2020. You can only apply for an EEA family permit up until 30 June 2021 and after that date all EEA family permits will no longer be valid, even if there is time left to run on the permit. It is free to apply for the permit.
How long does an EEA family permit take to process?
The UK Home Office website states that if you are applying for an EEA family permit or an EUSS family permit you will get a decision as soon as possible after proving your identity and provided your documents. The EEA family permit, which will cease to exist from 30 June, 2021, commonly took between 15 and 30 working days to process.
Last updated: 23 January 2021