I am an EU citizen, married to non-EU citizen. We currently live in the Caribbean and are planning on moving shortly to London.

What will I have to do to enable my wife to accompany, and stay with me in England? What permits or visas do we have to apply for and how soon can it be done?

  • 2
    To start with, if you are not a British citizen, get your wife an EEA Family Permit, which is free and should be issued expeditiously. That will get her into the country. One you're there, she'll want a residence permit. If nobody answers the question in the next several hours, I will provide more detail (no time at the moment).
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 20:55
  • 1
    My sister just had a baby; I should be able to get to this tomorrow.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 20:49
  • I also read somewhere else about Surinder Singh route for same. I am not sure, but i think it involves you, a EU citizen, bringing your non-EU wife as a spouse-to-EU to Europe, she stays for like a year or two, gets some status, then she could enter UK. I did not understand procedure, thats why I put this as comment.
    – DavChana
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 3:25
  • @Davinder the Surinder Singh route applies only to an EU citizen bringing a non-EU family member to the same EU country (for example, a Dutch person moving to the Netherlands). Since (as I assume) the OP is not a British citizen, and is moving to the UK, Surinder Singh is not relevant in this case.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 4:11

2 Answers 2


Since you have indicated in a comment to another answer that you are Polish, this answer does not cover the case of a British citizen wanting to move to the UK with a non-EU/EEA family member. The rules are somewhat different in that case. This answer applies to citizens of any EU or EEA country, and to citizens of Switzerland; it outlines the process for bringing a family member to live with you in the United Kingdom under the EU right of freedom of movement.

I will also assume that the narrow grounds for excluding EU nationals do not apply to you or your wife. That is, I assume that neither of you could represent a threat to public health, safety, or policy.

You want to bring your spouse to live with you in the United Kingdom. The first step is to get her into the country. You have not indicated her nationality, which is significant. Depending on her nationality, she will fall into one of two groups:

  • People who need a visa to enter the United Kingdom (for example, citzens of India)
  • People who do not need visas to enter the United Kingdom (for example, citizens of the United States)

If she falls into the second category, you can ignore everything to do with EEA Family Permits. Instead, you can just travel to the United Kingdom along with evidence to show that she is your wife, and apply for entry.

If she falls into the first category, she will need a visa to travel to the UK. In this case, you will need to present the evidence of your marriage as part of your application for an EEA Family Permit. This is free of chaarge, and should be issued on the basis of an "expedited procedure." (My mother in law received one of these last spring, as the dependent parent of my wife; if I recall correctly, it took a week or two.)

You ask how soon you can apply for the EEA Family Permit. According to the eligibility page, you can apply up to six months before you intend to travel to the UK.

(The eligibility page also mentions that the EU family member needs to be a "qualified person" or a permanent resident if he or she has been in the UK for more than three months. Since you are not yet in the UK, this does not apply to you. The only criterion you need to meet is that of being an EU citizen.)

Once you have entered the UK, your wife will most likely want to apply for a UK Residence Card. She doesn't require the card unless she wants to work, but she can use it to enter the UK after the EEA Family Permit expires (or if she did not require one in the first place), and it will serve as proof of her status in the country. The cost is £65.

Before she can apply for the residence card, you must become a "qualified person." This means that you fall into one of the EU freedom-of-movement categories: you're employed, self-employed, self-sufficient, or studying, or you qualify as a job seeker under EU rules. The details of how to prove this are covered in the uk.gov pages.

The residence card is also helpful because it will help your wife qualify for a right of permanent residence. You and your wife gain this right after living in the UK for five years, and your wife's right of permanent residence is independent of yours. Details of permanent resident status are also noted in the uk.gov pages.


Searching online, one can find stories of people whose EEA Family Permit applications were denied on the grounds that there marriage was, or was suspected to be, a marriage of convenience. The burden of proof in these cases rests with the ECO, so you should not at first concern yourself with proving your marriage to be genuine, unless perhaps your wedding was very recent. If this might be a concern for you, you can have a look at my answer to this question about a rejected EEA Family Permit application.

  • Thank you for the I information. My wife is from the carribean country of Grenada which is part of the commonwealth. She does not need a visa to enter to UK as she can stay freely for up to 6 months. I was thinking the getting the EEA family permit will make it easier for her to get the residents card. Also we got married last month so it has only been 3 weeks but I have been living here in Grenada with her for the past 7 months.
    – Maciej
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:28
  • @Maciej Your wife cannot apply for an EEAFP from inside the UK (because it is essentially a type of visa). She would apply directly for the residence permit. Given the history of your relationship I would guess you are at risk of being asked to show that yours is not a marriage of convenience, but perhaps the commonwealth angle will make that less likely. I am afraid I do not know. I also do not know whether this is more likely to be an issue with the EEAFP or the residence permit, but you might want to ask here as there are other users here who are more familiar with UK immigration law.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:36
  • Well I just hope all will work out I was thinking of doi g it with the help of a lawyer just to be safer
    – Maciej
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:48
  • 1
    @Maciej If you can afford it (and can find a good lawyer), that will certainly improve your chances of getting it right the first time.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 18:27

Assuming that you are an EU national who is not a British national, then you will be applying for an EU family permit which is provided for 6 months. After that, she would be able to apply for a 5 years EU Residence card from the UK but you will need to be employed at the date of application or prove other ways that you are exercising your treaty rights in the UK.

Given that some people have mentioned that you may be a British national and the case of Surinder Singh can be applied. This policy can only be applied if you have lived at a Member State for more than 6 months with your wife, either you was employed or self employed and was returning to the UK, then you can apply under that route.

  • Thank you. I am polish, and with move to England on Monday so I will apply for the EEA permit. But also how long should I wait before I apply?
    – Maciej
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 13:51
  • 1
    @Maciej the EEA family permit is analogous to a visa; you can apply for it before you travel to the UK. I'll post an answer in a few minutes.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 16:17

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