Surinder Singh route for spouses and families of British citizens

This immigration route, named after a person who filed a court case, can be used by non-EU family members of British citizens to secure a UK visa – but under the EU law. Normally, family members of EEA citizens, such as of Irish/French/Polish nationals, are applying using the European law. This is where they get an EEA Family Permit for 6 months outside the UK and/or a Residence Card for 5 years if applying inside the UK.

However, very often British citizens, or rather their non-EU family members, are trying to apply for a visa using the same route. After all, the UK is in the EU and British citizens are the EU citizens, aren’t they? Those who do try it often get a shock of being told that this routes does not apply to family members of UK citizens, only to those of EU (non-UK) citizens. Why? Because there has to be ‘movement’ between the EU member states and ‘British in Britain’ represents no movement!

On the other hand, there is one way around it: Surinder Singh route. It allows non-EU family members of British citizens to apply for a UK visa using the European law, as opposed to applying under the Immigration Rules. Let’s take a most common situation: a spouse of a British citizen. Under the Surinder Singh route spouses of UK citizens can apply for a Family Permit and/or Residence Card under the EU law and not under the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

And who can blame them? Applying under the EU law means no English test and no  Financial Requirement (no need to prove the income of £18,600). Plus it is much cheaper, a Family Permit (if coming from outside the UK) is free of the official Home Office fee, compared to £885 fee for those applying under the Immigration Rules (fees in October 2014). A Residence Card (if applying inside the UK) costs only £65 (April 2015) as opposed to £601-£1,001 fee for an FLR(M) application! And getting a Residence Card for 5 years is the icing on the cake! That’s instead of a visa for 2.5 years, then extension for another 2.5 years (with another fee) for those under the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

However, there are several conditions to meet, so we have outlined here the most relevant points. For an individual advice please book our Advice Session (over email by the  next working day or face-to-face at our office):

1) A British citizen must go and work in another EU member state (or be self-employed) before returning to the UK. This is how we get the ‘movement’, referred to in the beginning of this page.   

2) For a minimum period of 3 months but better for longer because....

3) ‘Centre of life’ must have been transferred to that EU member state. There is no exhaustive list but examples would be: renting a place to live or buying a property (as opposed to staying at a hotel), enrolling a child to school, learning language etc.

4) In case of spouses and civil partners, both UK and non-EU spouse/civil partner must have lived together in that EU member state and been married BEFORE returning to the UK. For example, it would not work to bring a spouse from Australia to the UK without living together in, say, Ireland first.

5) However, the above does not apply to other family members, for example, children under 21yo or dependent parents.

6) EU law considers a child to be a 'child' until the age of 20 (ie under 21 yo) and not under 18yo as under the Immigration Rules.

7) Parents and grandparents have to be dependent, which means financially relying on the Sponsor for their essential living needs. 

This is very different from the Immigration Rules (ie a UK law, not EU law) which only allow to bring a parent to the UK if he/she requires long-term day-to-day care and such care is not available in the country of residence (or not affordable).

8) Dependency under the EU law is that of fact, the reasons for dependency are not relevant. For example, if a family member can work but chooses not to and depend on an EEA national instead, this would be acceptable (in principal).

9) Surinder Singh route can now also be used by the extended family members including unmarried partners in durable relationship.  This became possible following a court case in the late 2014.

10) You can read more about who is regarded as a ‘family member’ and ‘extended family member’ under the EU Regulations on this page but for an individual advice please book our  Advice Session (over email by the  next working day or face-to-face at our office).

11) If you need help with understanding who is a civil partner and who is an unmarried partner, there is a very useful post on our blog:http://1st4immigration-visas.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/for-purpose-of-uk-spousepartner-visas.html

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