Assuming one is an EU citizen, under which condition are their (non-EU) elderly parents treated as "EU Family Members"? E.g. the Czech Ministry of the Interior says the following:

descendant or ancestor or else descendant or ancestor of a spouse of an EU citizen, who is due to meeting his basic needs dependent on nutrition or on other necessary care provided by this EU citizen or his spouse, or was dependent on this nutrition or care immediately prior to entering the territory, in a state of which the person concerned is a citizen or in a state in which the person concerned has permitted stay. (Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals in the Czech Republic no longer sets the condition of dependency in the context of a dependent person).

Does this mean that as long as the EU citizen is paying for the living expenses of his parents, he is entitled to bring them over into the EU? Or do those parents need to have some sort of a lasting disability that requires constant care?

References to EU case law would be particularly appreciated.

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    Parents or grandparents qualify as "immediate" family if they are dependent. (The dependency can be partial.) No disability is required. Why would you think it might be? Even if they are not dependent, they could qualify as "extended" family if they are members of the household.
    – phoog
    Nov 13, 2016 at 17:49
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    @phoog to me "dependent" is quite ambiguous and could mean anything from moral support to full disability. Is there an official EU page that clarifies that question? "Members of the household" is quite ambiguous as well — does promising to live under the same roof count? Nov 13, 2016 at 17:51
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    The criterion is financial dependence. The criteria are indeed vague and are judged case by case. "Extended family" (e.g., member of household) criteria can also vary from country to country. If nobody does so by tomorrow I'll post a proper answer.
    – phoog
    Nov 14, 2016 at 3:55

2 Answers 2


This is controlled by directive 2004/38/EC:

Article 3


  1. This Directive shall apply to all Union citizens who move to or reside in a Member State other than that of which they are a national, and to their family members as defined in point 2 of Article 2 who accompany or join them.
  2. Without prejudice to any right to free movement and residence the persons concerned may have in their own right, the host Member State shall, in accordance with its national legislation, facilitate entry and residence for the following persons:

(a) any other family members, irrespective of their nationality, not falling under the definition in point 2 of Article 2 who, in the country from which they have come, are dependants or members of the household of the Union citizen having the primary right of residence, or where serious health grounds strictly require the personal care of the family member by the Union citizen;

(b) the partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship, duly attested.

The host Member State shall undertake an extensive examination of the personal circumstances and shall justify any denial of entry or residence to these people.

Here's what article 2, point 2, has to say:

  1. ‘family member’ means:

[Items (a) through (c) are not relevant.]

(d) the dependent direct relatives in the ascending line and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b);

The question of dependence is mentioned in the prefatory material:

(6) In order to maintain the unity of the family in a broader sense and without prejudice to the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality, the situation of those persons who are not included in the definition of family members under this Directive, and who therefore do not enjoy an automatic right of entry and residence in the host Member State, should be examined by the host Member State on the basis of its own national legislation, in order to decide whether entry and residence could be granted to such persons, taking into consideration their relationship with the Union citizen or any other circumstances, such as their financial or physical dependence on the Union citizen.

So, if they are financially or physically dependent, they fall under article 3(1); if they are not, but are members of the household, they fall under article 3(2)(a).

The criteria for determining dependence and household membership are left to the individual countries. There may be court decisions constraining this, but I checked the "affected by case" list on the document information page, and didn't see any relevant cases.

As an example, the UK disucsses this in EUN2.9:

EUN2.9 How do I establish dependency under the EEA Regulations?

Direct family members must be wholly or mainly financially dependent on the EEA principal to meet his or her essential needs in order to qualify for an EEA family permit, (children under 21, spouses, civil partners do not need to provide any evidence to show dependency on the EEA national).

Extended family members must be wholly or mainly financially dependent on the EEA principal to meet his or her essential needs in order to qualify for an EEA family permit (durable partners do not need to provide evidence to show dependency on the EEA national). Emotional dependence to the EEA national would also be expected in order for an extended family member to qualify for an EEA family permit.

Whilst the following criteria are not in themselves grounds for refusal, they should be taken into consideration when assessing dependent relatives:

  • Whether there are any other close relatives in the country of origin from whom the family member receives material support. If a family member receives funds from the EEA national but, for example, is living in the same household as another relative who provides their food and accommodation, the family member cannot be said to need the financial support of the EEA national in order to meet his / her essential needs.
  • Whether the family member leading an independent life. For example, if a direct descendent 21 or over is married (and especially if they have children), it may be questionable as to whether the EEA national is supporting the essential needs of both the family member and their spouse and children. In such cases additional attention should be paid to ensure that the financial essential needs of the family are being met by the EEA national.
  • Do any of the Union national governments list any examples of what the dependence criteria are? I can't even find those for the UK, despite them having the best EU-stuff related website. Nov 15, 2016 at 21:19
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    @JonathanReez I did an EEA family permit application for my mother in law about a year and a half ago, as a dependent parent. I ought to be able to find something for the UK. Most other countries, I suspect, will be somewhat less stringent. I probably won't be able to get to it before tomorrow.
    – phoog
    Nov 16, 2016 at 3:11
  • personal experience would also be great :) Nov 16, 2016 at 6:03
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    @JonathanReez my personal experience was that my wife's employer gives her an allowance for her mother, who is registered as her dependent. The UK seemed to accept that as adequate evidence of dependence. I've edited the question to include some material from the ECO guidance.
    – phoog
    Nov 16, 2016 at 21:55

Found some examples of what counts as "proof of dependency" on the UK informational page for EEA citizens:

The applicant must provide proof of their dependency. This can include:

•bank or building society statements

•evidence of money transfers

•evidence of living in the same household if applicable

•other evidence to show their EEA national sponsor has enough money to support them and the applicant is reliant on them for this

These are illustrative examples and other documentation may be provided which satisfies this requirement.

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