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Note: I have increased the specifity of this question, as well as adding information which was not available when it was first asked.

My partner and I would like to move to mainland Europe together.

I am a UK citizen, still living in the UK. My partner is an Iranian citizen, still living in Iran.

We have met in person, but have (of course) never lived together and the only evidence of our relationship would be our conversations on social media and travel receipts, to show that we have visited the same place at the same time.

I know that it is likely we would be expected to prove our relationship, though I haven't been able to find any guidance on what this would entail under our circumstances.

We are considering a move to Germany or Norway, primarily, though we have also discussed Sweden and Italy.

My partner had a meeting with a lawyer yesterday, where she was advised that the easiest option would be for her to move to Hungary or Italy independently (where she has the highest chance of being granted a visa), then we would be able to relocate together to our desired location within Europe.

At the moment, it looks like Germany is the most likely option. This is mainly because we both have friends there, though I have also read that expatriates who move before the 29th of March this year (the date of brexit) will retain their status and will face no difficulty in remaining in Germany. Although I do not live there currently, I would be able to relocate with relative ease.

I am unsure, though, whether the same rules would apply if I am already living in an area before my partner moves there, or whether we would both need to relocate to a new area.

If the former, then I can continue my plan to move to Germany prior to brexit and my partner will come to live with me as soon after she has moved to Hungary as possible.

However, if the latter is true, then I would have to wait until after brexit and reconsider my options based upon whatever legislation arises from it.

I have read that the freedom of movement directive is only guaranteed where both parties are moving to a new location, though I'm not sure if I've just misinterpreted this.

Based upon the above information, can anyone advise the most direct/hassle-free way to ensure that we are both able to reside together in Germany, or another EU country?

Thanks!

  • Depending on the nature of your relationship with your friend, your friend might be eligible to move with you under the freedom of movement directive. If not, though, your friendship will not be particularly helpful in a visa application. – phoog Nov 25 '18 at 6:42
  • Also, it's not true that "the official stance is that all EU member states grant visas following the same criteria." For long-stay visas, the criteria are explicitly controlled by national law, therefore not uniform. For short-stay visas within the Schengen area only, there is some uniformity of criteria, but the specific policies around the evaluation of those criteria are again set nationally rather than by the EU. – phoog Nov 25 '18 at 15:21
  • Thanks @phoog ! Obviously I'm ill-informed, though now I'm curious where I read that, as all the information I had digested prior to asking this question came from 'official' sources. I'll keep digging. – Joshua Flood Nov 25 '18 at 17:42
  • I'd be interested to see. There's a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there, including occasionally on official sites. For long-stay visas, there are even entire categories of visa that are only available in certain countries (notably the "retiree" visa whereby someone can move to a country simply if they have enough resources to support themselves). One issue of course is that the criteria are subjective, so even individual officers will apply them differently, let alone offices run by different countries. – phoog Nov 25 '18 at 18:05
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    @JoshuaFlood Could you edit your question to change "friend" to "partner" please, and include the fact that you don't currently live together. It makes a (big) difference. – Martin Bonner Nov 26 '18 at 10:59
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I came back to this question to post a comment noting that UK immigration officers have been known to take exception to the use of "friend" to describe a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. In other words, it can be seen as deceptive, so be careful. On the other hand, the words "Freund" and "Freundin" are used in German to denote boy- and girlfriends, so the chance of a German officer seeing deception in the use of the word "friend" is probably lower.

In response to the edited version of the question, however, I have rather more to say, so I'm posting this as an answer.

she was advised that the easiest option would be for her to move to Hungary or Italy independently (where she has the highest chance of being granted a visa), then we would be able to relocate together to our desired location within Europe.

This is certainly the most legally straightforward route.

I have also read that expatriates who move before the 29th of March this year (the date of brexit) will retain their status and will face no difficulty in remaining in Germany.

If the draft agreement (pdf) is actually implemented (i.e., if there's no "no deal" Brexit) then the actual deadline will be the end of the transition period, in 2020.

I am unsure, though, whether the same rules would apply if I am already living in an area before my partner moves there, or whether we would both need to relocate to a new area.

In principle, it should be fine for your partner to join you after you move there, but there are many exceptions to this, and there could be more after Brexit or after the end of the transition period.

I have read that the freedom of movement directive is only guaranteed where both parties are moving to a new location, though I'm not sure if I've just misinterpreted this.

The freedom of movement directive essentially means that an EU citizen should be able to have their family members living with them. There are exceptions, for example, around newly established relationships, but it's certainly not necessary as a general rule for both parties to move at the same time.

Based upon the above information, can anyone advise the most direct/hassle-free way to ensure that we are both able to reside together in Germany, or another EU country?

The most hassle-free way would be to get married or registered as civil partners. Then your partner's claim to derivative free movement rights would be much more straightforward, and you could in theory move to Germany on the day of your wedding, or she could at least apply for a visa on that day or any day thereafter.

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    If the OP+partner were to marry they would still have to convince the Ausländerbehörde this was not a sham marriage for the purpose of obtaining access to Schengen. This is likely to be a good deal less difficult than convincing a Home Office immigration officer of course. – Martin Bonner Nov 29 '18 at 8:27
  • @MartinBonner that's correct. The most significant difference is that a spouse or registered partner is in a different category for the purposes of the directive. They have a right of free movement based on the relationship. They only need to prove the relationship to assert the right. For unregistered partners, the right only exists after the relationship has been "duly attested." This is a less significant difference for someone shooting for a visa, but for someone already in an EU or Schengen country, it is a significant difference. – phoog Nov 29 '18 at 15:28

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