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EEA Residence Cards

Unlike EEA Family Permits, an application for an EEA Residence Card must be made within the UK. An EEA Residence Card is an official document issued by the Secretary of State to the non-EEA national family member of an EEA national exercising treaty rights in the UK. An EEA Residence Card confirms the individual’s legal right to reside in the UK.


In order to qualify for an EEA Residence Card, the individual must demonstrate that:

  • S/he is a non-EEA national
  • S/he is the direct or extended family member of an EEA national who is residing in the UK either as a “qualified person” or as a permanent resident


Who is a “Qualified Person”?

The EEA national family member will be a qualified person if he/she is either:

  • Working; or
  • self-employed; or
  • self-sufficient; or
  • a student; or
  • a jobseeker

Direct Family members of an EEA national

The direct family member of an EEA national can be the spouse or civil partner, or the EEA national’s (or their spouse or civil partner’s) child/grandchild under 21 or a dependent parent/grandparent.

If the EEA national is a student, the individual will only be considered as a family member if they are the spouse or civil partner or the dependent child (or their spouse or civil partner’s dependent child).

Extended Family members of an EEA national

An individual is the extended family member of an EEA national if:

– they are the unmarried partner of an EEA national and are in a “durable” relationship (akin to marriage).
– they are the brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece or nephew of the EEA national*
– they are  the parent or grandparent of the EEA national if he/she is a student.

*Please note this list is not exhaustive

Retained Rights of Residence

Non-EEA national individuals may “retain” their right of residence in the UK on the basis that they used to be the family member of an EEA national who was either exercising treaty rights as a qualified person or who has permanent residence.

Non-EEA national individuals may also retain their rights of residence where the EEA national has either died, left the UK or upon their marriage/civil partnership legally ending (divorce, dissolution or annulment).

An individual applying for a retained right of residence on the basis that the relationship with the EEA national has ended, must demonstrate that they had been married for at least three years and spent at least one of those years residing together in the UK in accordance with the EEA Regulations.


How long is an EEA Residence Card valid for?


An EEA Residence Card will usually be issued for five years. The Secretary of State recently began issuing Residence Cards in the form of Biometric Residence Permit (as opposed to endorsement in the passport).

Individuals may be eligible to apply for permanent residence once they have completed five years in the UK in accordance with the EEA Regulations.

How we can help?

At Descartes Solicitors our experienced lawyers can assist you whether you are making an initial or fresh application, whether you have been refused and wish to exercise a right of appeal or even where you have been denied a right of appeal.

For further information please contact us on 0208 995 3556 or on 0844 556 9901. You can also email us at email us at or complete our enquiries box through this website.