Date Published: 21.09.2022
Status: Past
Type: Residency
Outcome: Early case resolution
Last Updated: 22.03.2023

EEA Family Permits

Summary of Information

The IMA received information regarding some extended family members of EU and EEA EFTA citizens experiencing issues obtaining an EEA family permit after 31 December 2020.

Under EU free movement, the EEA family permit enabled non-EEA national family members of EEA citizens (including extended family members) to join them in the UK. EU free movement to the UK ended on 31 December 2020 and, in line with the Withdrawal Agreements, the EEA family permit route closed on 31 December 2020 to applications from extended family members (other than durable partners), and on 30 June 2021 to other applications, and EEA family permits ceased to be valid for travel to the UK after 30 June 2021.

Since 1 July 2021, the Home Office had issued an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) family permit to those direct family members and durable partners qualifying for it who could not be issued an EEA family permit because that route had closed.

These arrangements did not cover extended family members (other than durable partners) because the Withdrawal Agreements do not require the ongoing facilitation of their entry to the UK. However, the Withdrawal Agreements do require that applications for entry to the UK from such extended family members made by 31 December 2020 continue to be considered and implemented in line with the previous free movement arrangements.

The complaints to the IMA were from extended family members who had applied for an EEA family permit by 31 December 2020 and whose application was successful (in some cases on appeal), but either they could not be issued an EEA family permit as these ceased to be issued after 30 June 2021 or they were issued an EEA family permit but were not able to travel to the UK by 30 June 2021 when the EEA family permit ceased to be valid for that purpose. This did not appear to accord with the Withdrawal Agreements.

The Home Office accepted that measures needed to be put in place for this group. From 7 October 2021, the Home Office implemented a temporary concession to enable them to be issued an EUSS family permit and to rely on this as the ‘relevant document’ required by this group in then applying here to the EUSS. The measures also covered relevant cases relying on certain ‘derivative rights’ to reside in the UK under EU law. Relevant changes to the Immigration Rules in Appendix EU (Family Permit) and Appendix EU were implemented from 6 April 2022 and reflected in the published caseworker guidance.

Summary of Actions and Evidence

Having carefully considered the issues raised, the IMA sought clarification from the Home Office.

The response from the Home Office accepted that there had been difficulties around the closure of the EEA family permit route.

The IMA, through informal enquiries, was able to establish that the Home Office had subsequently mitigated these by creating a temporary concession, and then making relevant changes to Appendix EU (Family Permit) and Appendix EU, to ensure anyone who may have been affected would not be placed at a disadvantage.

Summary of Decision 

It is evident that there were citizens who were placed at a disadvantage by the closure of the EEA family permit route. It meant that they were unable to travel to the UK and apply here to the EUSS, in line with the Withdrawal Agreements.

The Home Office recognised this and created a temporary concession which has now been reflected in changes to the Immigration Rules.

This enables an EUSS family permit to be issued to all extended family members who would otherwise have been issued an EEA family permit, including on appeal, had the route not closed. They can also rely on this EUSS family permit as the ‘relevant document’ they require in then applying here to the EUSS. The changes also mean that they are not prevented from qualifying for status under the EUSS because they arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.

Additionally, the Home Office has confirmed that extended family members already in the UK who applied for an EEA residence card by 31 December 2020 and would have been issued this (including on appeal), had the route not closed, will be issued a letter from the Secretary of State confirming their eligibility which they can rely on as the ‘relevant document’ they require in applying to the EUSS.

On the basis of the information available, the IMA considers that there are not reasonable grounds to believe that an inquiry may identify general or systemic failings in the implementation or application of the Withdrawal Agreements.

The IMA, therefore, does not consider that it would be proportionate or reasonable to continue to explore this issue by beginning an inquiry at this time.

However, should the IMA receive any further information or complaints about this or related issues, these will be considered on their merits and in line with IMA’s internal processes.

Does this issue affect you?

The complaints submitted to us help build a picture of where there are common, wide-reaching, or systemic issues with how UK public bodies are implementing the Withdrawal Agreement(s) for EU and EEA EFTA citizens’ rights.