I understand that if you have lived in another EU country than your own, you can excercise EU freedom of movement to move back to your home country with your non-EU spouse. How long do you have to have lived in this other EU country? Do you need to have a residence permit from the country?

  • Hi Dan, your answer to this question was deleted for reasons explained in a comment. You have created two separate accounts, Dan and Dan, but you can merge them. If you do, you will regain ownership of this question and therefore be able to comment on this question and on my answer. – phoog May 17 at 14:24
  • In your aforementioned answer, there seem to be some misunderstandings: the fact that Croatia can exclude family of its citizens from EU free movement doesn't arise from the fact that it says "EEA" rather than "EU." Using EEA just underscores that the non-EU EEA countries are included. Instead, this limitation arises from the fact that the directive provides explicitly for this. That is why other countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, do the same. – phoog May 17 at 16:47

Each country makes its own rules within the guidelines specified in the free movement directive, so a general answer is not possible.

Residence permits are not required, however, because under the free movement scheme, member states cannot require citizens of other member states to have a residence permit. The citizen may opt to apply for a "registration certificate," but these are indeed optional and should not be required for a move back to the country of nationality. Any means of documenting your life in the other member state should suffice.

As an example of the variation in the rules, here's what the UK has to say:

Eligibility for you and your British family member

You must have genuinely made your home in another EEA country. Both of you must prove that:

  • it’s been your main residence or base for the ‘centre of your life’
  • you’ve lived there together
  • you’ve integrated there

Eligibility for your British family member

Your British family member must either have the right to permanent residence in the EEA country where you’ve lived together, or have been one of the following there:

  • working
  • self-employed
  • self-sufficient
  • studying

  • If they’ve been back in the UK for more than 3 months, they must also be working, looking for work, self-employed, self-sufficient or studying in the UK.

It should be noted that immigration barrister Colin Yeo, at his freemovement blog, expresses an opinion that a significant number of the UK's requirements are improper and would not withstand a legal challenge.

By contrast, the Netherlands has these requirements (the original uses the Dutch abbreviation "EER"; here it is changed to the English abbreviation "EEA"):

You have lived in another EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland for at least 3 months with your family member without the nationality of an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland. The residence must have been lawful based on EU Community law. Thus you have used EU Community Law (right to free movement).

It's rather simpler.

Furthermore, some countries, including Spain and Italy, grant the non-EU family members of their citizens the same rights as the non-EU family members of other EU citizens, so in those countries there is no need to consider this question whatsoever.

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