Nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have the benefit of what is commonly referred to as free movement rights.
This means that the nationals of these countries are not subject to the UK's Immigration Rules, instead their admission into and further stay in the UK is subject to European Union law. Under the law of the European Union, they have an automatic right to enter the UK and remain in the UK for an initial period of 3 months.
In order to remain in the UK for a period exceeding 3 months, EEA nationals must show that they either are a “worker”, ‘‘job-seeker’’, “self-employed person”, “self-sufficient person” or a “student”. Although it is not obligatory to do so, such persons can apply for an EEA Registration Certificate as confirmation of their residency rights in the UK. Such a confirmation helps to prove to their employers that they are allowed to work in the UK or helps to prove to government agencies that they qualify for certain welfare benefits.
Family members of EEA nationals also have a right to reside in the UK. If a non-EEA family member is applying from outside the UK, they will need to apply for a document called the
EEA Family Permit confirming that they are allowed to travel to and reside in the UK on the basis of their relationship with the EEA national resident in the UK.
If a non-EEA family member is already residing in the UK and is applying from within the UK, they will need to apply for an EEA Residence Card as a confirmation of their residency rights in the UK. This card is usually valid for an initial period of 5 years.
Once an EEA national has been living in the UK continuously for a period of at least five years as a “worker”, ‘‘job-seeker’’, “self-employed person”, “self-sufficient person” or a “student”, they may be able eligible for a permanent right of residence in the UK. This means they will be able continue residing in the UK unconditionally, regardless of whether they are a “worker”, ‘‘job-seeker’’, “self-employed person”, “self-sufficient person” or a “student”. Family members of EEA nationals may also be able to apply for an EEA Permanent Residence Card signifying their entitlement to permanent residence in line with their EEA family member.
List of EEA countries –
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.