EU Citizenship UK

Introduction to EU Citizens in the UK

Introduction to EU Citizenship UK

Every citizen of one of the 28-member states of the European Union also holds a “EU Citizenship UK”, which is in addition to citizenship granted to them by virtue of being a national of a particular State.

  • Steve a British National is a British citizen and EU Citizen as well at the same time, similarly, a Polish national is a Polish citizen but also holds an additional citizenship of the European Union.
  • Anna is a Polish citizen living in the UK she is also a “EU Citizen”.

Rights under EU Citizenship UK

EU Citizenship UK”, allows a right of free movement within the Member States, right of permanent residence for EU citizen and his/her family members, right to work as an employee or self-employed. EU Citizenship UK also grants right of equal treatment, right of the same social and tax advantage as that to a national.

Citizenship Rights

All Citizens of the 28-member states and their families (including EU and non-EU family members) have citizenship rights to leave their home state and move to or reside in any other Member State for;

  • 3 months without any conditions to meet
  • But must hold a valid Identity card or passport (for both EU and Non-EU dependent family members)
  • No access to Welfare benefits in the host Member State
  • For economically inactive EU Citizens to stay, over 3 months they must not be dependent on the Host State’s Social Security System and must be self-sufficient and hold comprehensive Sickness/Medical Insurance.
  • An EU national Student who wants to stay for more than 3 months must make a declaration of “sufficient resources”.
  • Member states are not obliged to provide for maintenance grants and student loans to a person who is not a worker, self-employed or part of a family of such worker or self-employed person.
  • In limited circumstances, it is possible for an EU Student to obtain student loans and grants if they have resided in host state lawfully and is sufficiently integrated into the host State’s society.
  • Steve, his wife and children are British nationals, they can move to any country for up to three months without any conditions to fulfil.
  • Ahmad is a British national but his wife is still an Indian national and has not acquired British nationality yet, Both Ahmad and his wife can visit any Member State although his wife is still an Indian national, all she needs is to accompany Ahmad and hold a valid Indian Passport which includes an entry clearance.
  • Steve and his wife, an economically inactive couple decided to stay for more than three months in Italy and want to make Italy a permanent home, they must have sufficient resources to support themselves. They must not be a burden on Italy’s Social Welfare System and must have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.
  • Linda is a Polish national who wishes to move to London and study for a degree in Accountancy, she will not be entitled to a student loan or any grant in the UK
  • Patricia a Polish national, living in London is a family member of a worker or self-employed person, she is entitled to a student loan.

Rights of Self Employed/Employed EU Citizens

Self-employed and employed citizens and their family members (both EU national and Non-EU national family members) have a right to stay over 3 months in a host Member State.

Family Members of EU Citizens

  • Spouse, registered partner, direct descendants under 21 years of age.
  • Dependents, dependent’s direct relatives.

Important Condition

The Rights granted under “EU Citizenship”, can only be exercised when a national of a one-member State moves to another Member State.

  • Anna has moved from Romania to the UK, she can now (while in the UK) exercise her right of free movement under “EU Citizenship
  • Steve a British national moves to Spain, he can exercise “EU Citizenship” rights in Spain.
  • Shelly a British national while living in the UK is a “Union Citizen” but she cannot rely on these rights as she has not moved from the UK to any other member state.

Non-EU Nationals living in European Union

Nationals of countries from the Non-European Area do not hold any “EU Citizenship” rights while living in any member state under any other immigration status, for example, nationals of non-EU countries on Work Visas, Student Visas or Indefinite Leave to remain. They may have limited rights given to them in Directive 2004/38 as a dependent which is discussed below.

  • Ahmad a Pakistani national is on Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, he will not be considered as an “EU Citizen” and cannot rely on the “EU Citizenship UK” rights
  • Deepika an Indian national on a work permit will not be considered as an “EU Citizen” and cannot rely on the “EU Citizenship UK” rights in any 28 Member States.

Death / Departure of the EU citizen

The rights of family members and dependents of a EU citizen are not affected by the death of a EU Citizen” or his/her leave from the host State provided they are in work or have sufficient means and are not dependent on the host State’s Social Security System

Where the family members or dependents are non-EU nationals, they can live in the host State after the death or departure of the EU Citizen provided they have lived together in the host state for at least 1 year but they must be in work or have sufficient resources and Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.

  • Frank, Anna, and their family are Italian nationals living in the UK for some time, Frank decides to leave the UK or dies, Anna and family members can still live in the UK, provided they are either at work or have sufficient resources to stay in the UK without being a burden on UK’s Social Security System.
  • Ahmad an Italian national and his Indian wife and family who are living in the UK for at least 1 year, on the death or departure of Ahmad, his wife, and family members can still live in the UK provided they are either at work or have sufficient resources to stay in the UK without being a burden on UK’s Social Security System.

Separation between EU nationals

 The separation between a couple has no impact on the rights

  • Anna and Frank are now separated that does not have any impact on the Citizenship Rights of both Frank and Anna

Divorce between EU nationals

Divorce, annulment of marriage, or termination of a registered partnership have some effect on rights. If the partner is an EU national their rights are generally unaffected provided they are either in work or have sufficient resources to stay in the UK without being a burden on the UK’s Social Security System.

For a non-EU partner to retain their rights the marriage or partnership must have lasted for at least 3 years including 1 year in the host State or the spouse/ partner has the custody of an EU Citizen’s children or if there are special circumstances such as a victim of domestic violence, the non-EU National partner can retain the rights in these circumstances provided he/she is either in work or has sufficient resources to stay in the UK without being a burden on the UK’s Social Security System.

  • Patricia and Frank are Italian nationals living in the UK, upon the divorce, the EU partners can stay in the UK provided they are either in work or have sufficient resources to stay in the UK without being burden on the UK’s Social Security System
  • Ahmad is British national and his wife Deepika an Indian national living in Spain for just over 1 year but they are married for more than three years. Upon Divorce Deepika can continue living in Spain as they were married for at least 3 years and were living in Spain for at least 1 year, provided Deepika is working or has sufficient resources to stay in Spain without being a burden on Spain’s Social Security System.

Further rights

  • The family members have a right to take up employment or self-employment
  • The right of equal treatment
  • EU Citizens have same the social and tax advantages as that of the nationals of the host State
  • Right of permanent residence after 5 years, this right is unaffected by temporary absences of up to 6 months
  • The right to permanent residence can be lost only through absence exceeding 2 years
  • Right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in Member State where they are resident
  • Right to apply to the Ombudsman


  • Requirement to report their arrival within reasonable time and register with authorities
  • Non-EU family members must apply for and be issued with a residence card

EU Workers’ Rights

A citizen of one of the 28 Members States has citizenship rights and also holds rights as a worker as well, which ensures equal treatment, prohibits any discrimination on the basis of nationality, wages or any other employment conditions which are disadvantageous to a EU worker.

The EU worker has the same working rights as that of a national of the country

  • Steve is a British national working in France. He holds the same working rights as a French national worker
  • Steve also holds EU Citizenship rights along with Worker’s right

Part Time EU Worker

A person working part time but carrying out a genuine economic activity is entitled to free movement and other working rights granted to a full-time worker.

Unpaid Worker / Charitable work / Rehabilitation work

Even where there are no formal wages paid, an individual may still be classified as a worker provided the work involved is an effective genuine economic activity or work.

Loss of Job

Where an EU worker, working in another member state loses his job or is no longer in the job or is self-employed he may still retain the rights of a worker or self-employed person

  • Provided the individual is temporarily unemployed due to illness or accident
  • Involuntarily unemployed after working for over a year
  • Expiry of a fixed term contract
  • Registered as a job seeker
  • Undertakes vocational training related to their previous employment
  • Can take vocational training which is not related to previous employment but only if the worker is involuntarily unemployed (did not leave the job by choice)

Job Seekers

EU nationals are entitled to enter or remain in another member state to find work but they cannot stay for indefinitely searching for a job. The limit of stay is a maximum of 3 months unless he/she can prove that;

  • He/she is making genuine efforts to find work and has a real chance of getting a job or gaining employment
  • The job seeker must have sufficient resources including comprehensive Sickness/Medical Insurance to live on so as not to become a burden on the host state
  • The job seeker and his/her family is not allowed to obtain any social security benefits

EU Worker’s Rights

  • Right to freedom of movement for the worker and his/her family for more than 3 months
  • Right to freedom of movement for self-employed worker
  • Freedom to establish or manage a business or practice a profession on a permanent basis
  • Rights of permanent residence for worker and family members after 5 years
  • Freedom from Discrimination direct or indirect
  • Same social and tax advantage as a national worker
  • Right of equal treatment
  • Mutual recognition of qualification
  • However, access to jobs in the public service is excluded and a member state may restrict or deny access to employment in the public service on the grounds of nationality.

Important Procedural Rights (EU Worker)

  • Right to be notified of a decision made by a public body
  • Right to know the grounds/reasons on which the decision is based
  • Right to appeal
  • Right to remain in the host member state while the appeal is pending
  • Right to apply to lift the exclusion orders made on the basis of public policy, after three years where there has been a material change in circumstances

Surinder Singh Rule

Where a EU citizen moves to another member state, working for at least three months and is directly joined by his family or dependent(s) (non-EU national, from outside of the 28 member states) in that member state, on returning to the member state of which he is a national in order to pursue an activity there as an employed or self-employed person, he/she can bring his/dependent(s) and family member(s) with him/her without obtaining any entry clearance for the family members.

  • Frank a British national moved to work as an employee or self-employed person in Spain. He has been joined by his Nigerian family members directly in Spain. Upon return to the UK, Frank can bring in his family members along with him to the UK although they have not received entry clearance from the UK Home Office.


These rights are subject to limitation and conditions on the grounds of public policy, public security and public health. A member state can deny the “EU Citizenship UK” rights on these groundsMember states have a right to expel or deport a worker and a EU Citizen where his personal conduct represents a “present” threat to the requirements of public policy or public security. Any criminal behaviour will also affect the rights of the worker.

However, previous criminal convictions will not in themselves provides reasons for exclusion of rights under public security and public policy.

EEA application Forms

EEA(FM): This application form must be used for

  • a registration certificate or
  • residence card as the family member of a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national

EEA (2): This application form must be used for

  • residence card by a non-EEA Family member of an EAA national

EEA (3): This application form must be used for

  • for permanent residence by an EEA national

EEA (4): This application form must be used for

  • for permanent residence card by a non-EEA Family member of an EAA national

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legallex does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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