Me (an Estonian citizen) and my wife (a Turkish citizen) are currently living and working in Turkey, but planning to go to live and work in the UK. Being an EU citizen, I know I don't need a work permit, but I don't know how it is with my spouse. By getting her a visa to accompany me, does it immediately give her a right to work?

Background information: I have a British bank account + a National Insurance number, and I've earlier worked for 4 years in the UK. Me and my wife also actually did meet in UK, years ago, before marrying, my wife was working the UK under an au pair program. We got married in Estonia 4 years ago. My wife also currently holds a valid UK business visa, and has visited the UK a few times already this year - for work purposes, for to the company where she works here in Turkey. She also has a valid multiple entry Schengen visa, and has had an Estonian living (& working) permit before.

  • 2
    See This Europe.EU page on non-EU-citizen family members for the basics
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 10:35
  • Gagravarr, thank you for the link. What I understand from there is that a non-EU citizen of an EU citizen is already entitled to an entry visa, and the right for employment. As this is not an official UK government website, and due to having heard from various sources that UK immigration laws do not always follow EU ones, does anyone know whether these EU family member regulations are actually enforced in the UK?
    – cccec
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 12:40
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    @cccec: UK immigration laws don't follow EU family member regulations if you are a UK national, who never lived outside of UK but inside of the EU for more than 6 months. After you do this you are considered an EEA citizen, and EU immigration laws will apply to you and your partner. See also expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/2441/… and expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/1416/…
    – SztupY
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


EU law definitely applies to your case and if the authorities would decline to apply it, you could go to court to invoke it. In practice, the UK makes it a little more difficult that it needs to with delays and such but it does generally follow EU law. The famous court cases (Surinder Singh, Carpenter…) are about British citizens using EU law to circumvent the more restrictive rules that apply to them and their family.

In practice, your wife will need to apply for an EEA family permit and then, once in the UK, for a UK residence card. In principle, she has a right to work in the UK without restrictions immediately and should get this visa quickly but in practice I have read reports from people who had to wait several months to actually get the permit they need to come to the UK and work.

One thing I don't know is whether your wife could enter the UK on her other visa and apply for a residence card directly.

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