Immigration

House of Lords written question – answered on 3rd June 2013.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what checks are performed when European Union nationals bring spouses and families without a European Union nationality into the United Kingdom; whether any minimum income is required for such individuals; how many such spouses and family members entered the United Kingdom in each of the last three years; and how the restrictions applying to such spouses and families compare to those applying to the foreign spouses and family members of United Kingdom nationals.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The rights of European Union nationals to live and work in other member states, and to be accompanied by their family members who do not hold European Union nationality, are set out in the Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC).

Under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which implement the Free Movement Directive, the European Economic Area (EEA) family permit regime allows EU nationals to bring their non-EU family members to the UK.

Applicants for an EEA family permit are checked against criminality and immigration databases and must submit proof of identity and nationality, proof that their family member is an EU national, and proof of a qualifying family relationship. There is no minimum income requirement but non-EU family members can remain in the UK for longer than three months only if their EU relative is exercising treaty rights in the UK, as a worker, jobseeker, student, self-employed or self-sufficient person, and both the EU national and their family member meet the other qualifying criteria.

An EEA family permit, instead of a visa, is required whenever a non-EU national wishes to accompany their EU national spouse, parent or other family member to the UK, including for holidays, family visits and business trips. The Home Office issued 20,746 EEA family permits in 2010, 19,885 in 2011 and 19,242 in 2012.

The Free Movement Directive does not cover the rights of EU citizens living in their country of nationality, so it does not apply to British citizens living in the UK, who must meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules, including the minimum income threshold of £18,600, to sponsor a non-EEA national spouse to settle here.

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