6 Facts: Family Members of EEA/Swiss Nationals in the UK

Family members of EEA/Swiss nationals is probably, the most generous category under the UK immigration rules. Here we identify some of the most appealing aspects of this category.

1. The source of EEA/Swiss family members’ rights in the UK

EEA/Swiss family members derived their rights directly from the EU law. Initially, these rights were decided on the case-by-case basis by the European Court of Justice. Most of these rights are currently codified and can be found in the Directive 2004/38.

A directive is a legislative instrument of the EU institutions that needs to be transposed to the national legal system of the member states in order for it to be applied universally across the EU.

In the UK, the provisions of this directive are transposed into the so-called EEA regulations that came into force in February, 2017.

2. Who are the family members of the EEA/Swiss nationals?

The family member of an EEA/Swiss national is not limited just to the spouse or a civil partner and/or children, but includes the direct ascending and descending family line and extended members of the family.

The direct ascending and descending family line is understood as parents and children of the EEA/Swiss national who move to the UK to live with the EEA/Swiss national.

The extended family members are understood as relatives of the EEA/Swiss national who are dependent of EEA/Swiss national support and who move or join the EEA/Swiss national to live in the UK.

3. How does one become a family member of EEA/Swiss national in the UK?

The family members of EEA/Swiss national usually move from another EEA member state or Switzerland to the UK in order to make it possible to accompany their family member and live together.

4. EEA/Swiss family member rights: spouse or civil partnership who are third country nationals

In the UK, spouse denotes a marriage or a relationship akin to marriage lasting no less than 2 years in a heterosexual couple scenario while civil partnership is reserved for same sex couples.

Spouses and civil partners who are third country nationals normally are able to derive the right to enter the UK and the right to remain in the UK through the legal standing of the EEA/Swiss national.

 5. EEA/Swiss family rights are derived if the EEA/Swiss national is a qualifying person

For the spouses to derive EEA/Swiss family rights, the EEA/Swiss national concerned needs to be a qualifying person. The qualifying person is one of the determined four categories: a worker, a self-employed person, a student or a self-sufficient person.

6. The UK does not recognise spouses and civil partners that are not genuine arrangements

It has been recognised that individuals may seek to enter into arrangements that are not genuine in order to benefit from the generous rights awarded by the EEA regulations in the UK.

The EEA regulations do not recognise artificial arrangements and the arrangements of convenience that are designed to benefit from the generous immigration treatment under the UK regulations.

A word of warning to the EEA/Swiss nationals contemplating entering into marriage or civil partnership in the UK with a third country national, it is important to check that the third country national in the UK has a valid visa that permits to marry.

Should you require any assistance with EEA/Swiss family member UK immigration applications in the UK, please contact us via email: saule@hnilondon.co.uk or tel.: 0203 286 4887.



I am the single point of contact for ultra and high net worth individuals who need to develop their global wealth strategy, which aligns with their personal vision, their business and investment goals and then meets regulatory, legal and compliance requirements. I help them navigate the applicable regulatory and legal framework and tailor bespoke and comprehensive approach across UK immigration law, global financial structuring and tax advice, set up, administer and review their trust, business and fiduciary structures and benefit with cost effective foreign currency conversions. As their trusted adviser, I preserve the integrity of their global vision and keep their personal and business matters private and protected; while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.

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