According to the British law a non-EEA spouse of an EEA citizen is not required to apply for a family permit or any other visa to enter the UK as long as he/she possesses an EU residence card. I'm wondering if "EEA" in this context include British nationals.

I'm a non-EEA national (who would normally require a visa to enter the UK) married to a British citizen and we both have been living in Portugal for 6 months. My spouse has been working full time for over 5 months now. I was issued an EU residence card as a family member of an EU citizen. We are considering moving to the UK in 3 months time. The question is: Do I have to apply for a family permit (which could take around 6 months to be issued) or shall we try to enter the UK without one?

1 Answer 1


EEA in this context includes British citizens only if they have been living in another EU/EEA country under freedom of movement rules. Since your spouse has been living in Portugal, you would seem to qualify, though strictly speaking the British spouse must have his or her "centre of life" in the other EU/EEA country to qualify. The relatively brief time you've been in Portugal might put this point in question.

The provision that EU nationals can be treated as such in their own country is due to the case of Surinder Singh. The UK government has information on the so-called Surinder Singh route. Although this information is for those seeking an EEA Family Permit, it illustrates the things you'll need to prove to show that your British spouse has been exercising freedom-of-movement rights in Portugal, and therefore qualifies to be treated under EU rules instead of UK rules.

Finally, the fact that you don't need a permit doesn't mean you can't apply for one, and it's free of charge, so it might be a good way for you to establish your eligibility for the Surinder Singh route before you invest in a move to the UK.

  • It seems rather bizarre - apparently a German man with Japanese wife is free to move to the UK with his wife, while a British man with a Japanese wife living in Japan apparently would have to move to some other EU country first and then on to Britain. If I get this right.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 22:56
  • @gnasher729 that is correct. Countries can be more or less restrictive with their own citizens. The UK is more, obviously.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 23:44
  • 1
    The "centre of life" test is actually illegal, but the Home Office continues to use it anyway. It's currently under investigation by the EU over this, but for now you have to try to meet their ridiculous rules.
    – user
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:30

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