1

Within EEA countries, family members / spouses of a citizen of another EEA country can apply for a residence permit under favourable conditions. This is explained here on europa.eu specifically for EU countries.

Question 1: What is an official source that explains the rules that apply to the EEA in general (not just EU)?

Question 2: According to the above-linked website, within the EU, applications for such a residence permit must be processed within at most 6 months. This is important since these residence permits expire 6 months after moving countries—thus a new one should be issued before then. Are there similar rules on processing times for the EEA (not just EU)?

1 Answer 1

1

What is an official source that explains the rules that apply to the EEA in general (not just EU)?

The rules for the EEA are the same. The directive 2004/38/EC has been "incorporated into the EEA agreement." See https://www.efta.int/eea-lex/32004L0038.

According to the above-linked website, within the EU, applications for such a residence permit must be processed within at most 6 months. This is important since these residence permits expire 6 months after moving countries—thus a new one should be issued before then.

The six-month limit is not in fact particularly important because failure to have the card cannot lead to expulsion, only to an administrative sanction, and if the application is submitted promptly then any such sanction would be unjust. In fact, I have heard that in some places it is not particularly rare for the six-month deadline to be exceeded.

Also, for a family that has moved to a new country, the status of the non-EU/non-EEA family members does not depend on the possession of a residence card from the previous place of residence -- it is the same whether they have arrived from another EU/EEA country or from a non-EU/non-EEA country. And the terms under which the residence cards lose their validity are not necessarily uniform; this is governed by national law, subject to limits set forth in the directive, rather than by the directive itself.

(Note too that these cards are properly called "residence cards" rather than "residence permits" because they do not confer permission to reside; instead they are evidence that the bearer has a right to reside that is not subject to the host country's discretion.)

Are there similar rules on processing times for the EEA (not just EU)?

As noted above, the rules are the same.

In comments, you write

There are practical issues though such as being able to travel and return. Without a valid residence card, how can the family member prove the right to re-enter?

There certainly are practical issues. Without the card, the family member can use whatever proof of relationship would be used on initial arrival or to apply for the card itself. Such practical issues are certainly significant, and for certain purposes, for example obtaining employment, the card is an administrative requirement even if it is not a legal requirement.

We've been explicitly told that there is no guarantee of being let back in until the application is processed, for which the projected time is well over 6 months

There's no guarantee ever. For example, if the family member commits violent crimes showing that the family member is a threat to public safety, the family member can be excluded from the country of residence. But if the family member is armed with evidence of the family relationship, evidence of the EU (or EEA) citizen's citizenship, and evidence that he or she is traveling to join (or traveling with) the EU (or EEA) citizen, it would not be legal for the border authorities to deny admission without first finding that the family member is a threat to public safety, public health, or public policy.

Furthermore, in some places processing this application is a prerequisite to being able to access some basic things, such as opening a bank account, getting a medical prescription, a cell phone contract or even just public library access.

This is a significant problem. The solution will be different in different host countries (in part because the specific things that are difficult without the card will be different in different countries). The general solution is to complain to SOLVIT, where the EEA countries are also in scope.

9
  • There are practical issues though such as being able to travel and return. Without a valid residence card, how can the family member prove the right to re-enter? We've been explicitly told that there is no guarantee of being let back in until the application is processed, for which the projected time is well over 6 months. Furthermore, in some places processing this application is a prerequisite to being able to access some basic things, such as opening a bank account, getting a medical prescription, a cell phone contract or even just public library access.
    – Szabolcs
    Oct 7, 2023 at 9:00
  • This is why I was looking to read the exact rules, and why I am looking at The right of residence of family members of a Union citizen who are not nationals of a Member State shall be evidenced by the issuing of a document called "Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen" no later than six months from the date on which they submit the application. A certificate of application for the residence card shall be issued immediately. Neither of these things are happening in practice, but at least I know that to point to now.
    – Szabolcs
    Oct 7, 2023 at 9:05
  • @Szabolcs I've added to the question some reactions to these comments.
    – phoog
    Oct 7, 2023 at 9:45
  • Thank you once again for your valuable responses throughout several years both here and Travel.SE. Do you know if EEA citizens and their spouses have the right to equal taxation with local citizens, and if yes, where this rule is explained? Once again, I can find sources that apply to the EU, but not the EEA.
    – Szabolcs
    Feb 28 at 20:09
  • @Szabolcs income taxation? Some other kind of tax? As far as I know all EU and EEA countries tax people based on residence, regardless of citizenship. But I am no expert. And I don't know what EU law has to say on the matter, if anything.
    – phoog
    Feb 29 at 12:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.