Overview

You may be able to get a permit to come to the UK if you’re the family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, or a ‘person of Northern Ireland’.

The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The family of some British citizens can also get a permit.

You must be outside the UK to apply.

There are 2 different family permits:

  • the EU Settlement Scheme family permit
  • the EEA family permit

What family permits are for

A family permit makes it easier to travel with your family member to the UK or to join them there.

It lets you come to the UK for up to 6 months. You can work and study, and come and go as many times as you want.

Without one, you might not get a boarding pass or may be refused entry into the UK.

You can stay longer in the UK if you’re eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. You can either:

  • apply for a family permit before you come to the UK, and then apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once you’re here
  • apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK

EU Settlement Scheme family permit

You can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme family permit if you’re the close family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

Find out more about applying for an EUSS family permit to join an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.

You can also apply:

EEA family permit

The EEA family permit is ending on 30 June 2021. They will not be valid after then, and you will not be able to apply. You may be able to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit to come to the UK after 30 June 2021.

You can apply for the EEA family permit if you’re the close family member or unmarried partner of a person from the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Your family relationship must have started by 31 December 2020.

Find out more about applying for the EEA family permit to join an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.

You may also be eligible for the EEA family permit:

  • with a ‘derivative right of residence’ - you might have this if you’re the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss dependant, the primary carer’s child, or the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who previously worked in the UK
  • if you can make a ‘Surinder Singh’ application after living in an EEA country with a British family member
  • with a ‘retained right of residence’ - you might have this if you have the right to stay in the UK as the family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has died, left the UK or is no longer your spouse or civil partner

Fees

Both family permits are free.

How long you can stay

EEA family permits are usually valid for 6 months. However, they will not be valid after 30 June 2021, even if there is time left on the permit.

An EUSS family permit is valid for 6 months, unless:

  • you plan to arrive in the UK on or after 1 April 2021
  • your application is approved more than three months ahead of your planned arrival date

In this case, it’s valid for 4 months from your planned arrival date.

Staying in the UK after your family permit expires

If your eligible family member was living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living here after your family permit runs out.

If they came to the UK on or after 1 January 2021, you’ll usually need to apply for a visa to live, work or study.