European Law Free Movement Rights

  • European Law routes are more generous than standard immigration routes.
  • Our Immigration team focuses on helping family members of EEA nationals to establish their rights.
  • Home Office guidance does not always accurately reflect the true extent of rights available to EEA national family members.
  • Using a European Law expert can give you an advantage.

A citizen of a European Union/EEA country (other than the UK) is an EEA national.

We can assess your eligibility for UK citizenship...

What Passportia does

Passportia regularly advises and represents clients in relation to EEA family permits, EEA 5-year residence cards, Permanent Residence cards, and EU free movement rights. EEA cases are handled personally by an OISC accredited adviser. Our advisers have personally conducted hundreds of cases raising issues of EU free movement rights and have expert knowledge of the rules.

The free movement rights arise from various laws, treaties and judgements coming from European Union bodies, and this is a complex and changing area of law. There is little information or support for applicants available from the Home Office or application forms, and guidance to Home Office caseworkers does not always fully reflect the rights that are available to EEA nationals and their family members.

Applications are decided on the documents submitted, without meeting the applicant in person, and the burden of proof is on the applicant to demonstrate which rule they satisfy. This is the value in being represented by an expert who will set out the law fully and explain in detail why you qualify.

Residence Cards

For EEA nationals and their family members in the UK, there are two types of residence card.

EEA 5-year Residence Card

An EEA residence card is available to an EEA national or their family member if the EEA national is exercising treaty rights in one of the following categories.

  • Employment or Self-Employment in the UK,
  • Looking for a job,
  • Self-sufficiency,
  • Study.

Family members can include spouses, partners, civil partners, children (up to the age of 21 and older in some circumstances) and other dependent relatives in certain cases. The family member of an EEA national who is exercising treaty rights is entitled to be issued with a 5-year residence card under the EEA Regulations. This is possible even if the family member has no legal immigration status at the time of application, or is in the UK under a different immigration category.

Permanent Residence Card

A right of permanent residence is automatically acquired after living in the UK for 5 years as an EEA national or as their family member. A ‘permanent residence card’ can be obtained as evidence of the right. Once the right is acquired, it can only be lost through exclusion (usually following criminal activity) or absence from the UK for 2 consecutive years. A permanent residence card is very important for a family member who is not an EEA national. It is also advantageous for an EEA national to have a permanent residence card, as this can affect the position of family members, and is very useful for an application for British citizenship by naturalisation or proving that a child born in the UK became a British citizen.

End 2020

After 2020 the EEA nationals will need to have “leave to remain” in the UK unless they have leave already or enjoy exemption from control under another immigration category. Before end 2020 EEA nationals resident in the UK should have obtained “settled status” or “pre-settled status”.

Settled Status

EEA nationals who have been resident in the UK for 5 years can apply for “settled status” which is a form of ILR. There is no need to pass the tests required for other types of ILR.  In general, it is easier than getting a PR card, but the no time limit cannot be in the past like it is with the grant of a PR card. So if you want to apply for naturalisation shortly in the near future (and are not married to a British citizen), then a PR card may be more useful.



  • A citizenship law specialist
  • Successful with complex claims
  • Supporting multiple countries
  • Fast, flexible and precise

My case was dealt from start to finish in a very professional manner, I would definitely share my experience to all my friends and family.  The service given to me was very professional.

K.V. - London, UK