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International Students


Direct family members

If an EEA or Swiss national is exercising their right to come to the UK, or is in the UK, as a ‘qualified person’ and they have a direct family member who is a non-EEA national, that family member has the automatic right of residence in the UK. An EEA national is considered to be a 'qualified person' if they are residing in the UK in one of the following categories:

  • job-seeker (temporary)
  • worker
  • student
  • self-employed
  • self-sufficient

A direct family member is:

  • a husband or wife
  • a civil partner
  • children under the age of 21 who are dependent on you or your spouse or civil partner

Direct family members have a right of residence in the UK as long as they remain the family member of the EEA or Swiss national and that person continues to be a 'qualified person' or has a right of permanent residence. It is not a requirement under regulations for the EEA family member to obtain documentation to confirm their right to come to the UK but this is recommended as it will make entry to the UK at immigration control quicker and easier.

EEA family members can apply for an EEA Family Permit if they are outside the UK. This is valid for six months and enables you to leave and enter the UK as many times as you need within that period. There is no charge to make an application for an EEA family permit.

If you are already in the UK, or after you enter the UK on the EEA Family Permit, you may wish to apply for a UK residence card to confirm your right of residence. As well as making it easier to re-enter the UK at immigration control, you would be required to show the residence card to an employer as evidence of your right to work in the UK. The application costs £65.

Please note that an EEA national exercising their free movement rights in the UK as a student or a self-sufficient person and making an application for a UK residence card must also show they have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the UK for themselves and any family members. The Home Office defines comprehensive sickness insurance as 'any form of insurance that will cover the costs of the majority of medical treatment they may receive in the UK'.

Extended family members

Unmarried partners, and those not in a civil partnership, who can show they are in a 'durable relationship' are considered to be extended family members of an EEA national. They do not have an automatic right of residence in the UK and must apply for their circumstances to be considered by the Home Office before deciding whether to grant them permission to come to the UK. The Home Office will consider a number of factors to decide if the relationship is durable such as length of cohabitation, joint finances and whether the couple has children together. The Home Office considers a 'durable relationship' to be one where the applicant and EEA national have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage for at least 2 years. Evidence of this, such as evidence of joint finances, rent or mortgage agreements or other official correspondence must be submitted with the application. Each case is considered on its own merits and the Home Office will consider whether discretion can be used, for example if the two year rule is not satisfied but the couple have a child together. Further information is outlined in the Home Office's EEA family permit guidance.

Extended family members should apply for an EEA Family Permit from outside the UK. In the UK, extended family members are required to apply for a UK residence card prior to the family permit expiring.