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I have an EEA Family Permit that starts on 2/6. I have a flight to London on 1/31. My plan is to visit my husband for a couple days and then fly to Denmark from 2/5-2/7 returning to the UK to live once my permit has started.

Since I am American and don't need a visa to be a tourist in the UK, can I visit as a tourist before my permit starts as long as I leave the country before it is active?

  • Sounds fishy. It is rare that the UK will allow a 'visitor' to enter the country to visit their spouse without some scrutiny. You could actually be turned away. I'd consider ditching the London trip (unless it's actually a business trip or something like that) and just entering on the date prescribed in the permit. I'm assuming you are currently in the U.S. – ouflak Jan 13 '16 at 7:47
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    @ouflak Visa exempt nationals don't even need an EEA Family Permit, and anyone who holds one is entitled to enter the country under EU freedom of movement. If the spouse is already in the UK, they cannot deny entry, as a matter of legal right, unless the traveler is a threat to public health, safety, or policy. – phoog Jan 14 '16 at 1:22
  • @phoog, Even visa exempt nationals are under the same restrictions and scrutiny as visa nationals. If she gets asked at the border why she's visiting, and the answer is 'visit' her husband, this will always bring into question whether or not she is really visiting (afterall, who visits their spouse?). People have been turned away for this. The mitigating circumstances are in her favor since she already has the family permit and can just flash that if need be. But I would keep it simple and not risk the extra expense and hassle. – ouflak Jan 14 '16 at 7:34
  • @ouflak people have been turned away for this, but not if their husband is an EEA national. In that case, they have a legal right to enter the country for any length of time, as long as the EEA national is in the country. They cannot be turned away on suspicion of wanting to settle. This is a rare situation in which a non-citizen has a legal right to enter a country. I will add some relevant information to my answer. See also europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/entry-exit/non-eu-family/… – phoog Jan 14 '16 at 18:10
  • @ouflak look at it this way: under the immigration rules, a spouse is refused entry as a visitor when suspected of wanting to immigrate because the scrutiny applied to visitors is less than that applied to spouses. But immigration rules do not apply here. Under EU freedom of movement, there is no difference in the scrutiny applied, regardless of the purpose of the visit. The traveler stands to gain nothing by a false claim to be a visitor, so there is no reason for the officer to care whether this claim is true, or even to care about the purpose of the visit. – phoog Jan 14 '16 at 19:03
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This is entirely within the rules. As an American citizen, you don't even need an EEA Family Permit. You could enter the UK without a visa and apply directly for a residence permit. There should be no problem.

In any event, if your EEA family member is with you, or in the UK, you have a legal right to enter the country under EU freedom of movement, regardless of the validity of your EEA Family Permit.

Also, I don't think you'll need to leave before the permit becomes active. If the Denmark trip is just a visa run because you're worried about being in the records as a tourist, just apply for admission at the border as the spouse of an EEA national and cancel the trip.

(When you cross any Schengen border with your husband, or if you are traveling to join him in the Schengen area, you are entitled to use the EU passport queue; this is explicit in the Schengen Borders Code. In the UK, I think it's less clear, but it seems that at least if you are traveling together you can use the EU queue.)

In response to ouflak's skepticism, here is some guidance from September 29th of last year: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/464872/Direct_Family_Members_v3_0.pdf

It states in part that

An EEA or Swiss national and their direct family members’ right of residence does not depend on holding a document issued under these regulations.

It also says

[I]t is possible for [non-EEA family members] to demonstrate their right of admission under EU law at the UK border if they do not have [an EEA family permit, residence card, or permanent residence card].

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