For a visa to be issued on the basis of Directive 2004/38/EC, only the following requirements need to be satisfied:
- The visa applicant is a direct “family member” of an EU citizen and has proof (marriage or birth certificate or some combination) of the relationship)
- The visa applicant will be travelling with, or joining, the EU citizen for a visit or permanent move to an EU member state. (If they are going to the “home” country of the EU citizen, then there can be a requirement that the EU citizen had previously lived/worked in a different member state)
- All travellers require a passport (or a national ID card for the EU citizen)
If the family member has a “Residence Card for a family member of an EU citizen”, then they do not require a visa. (Only the UK does not implement this).
Where a visa is required, “Member States shall grant such persons every facility to obtain the necessary visas. Such visas shall be issued free of charge, as soon as possible and on the basis of an accelerated procedure.”
There is no legal requirement that:
- The EU citizen is already (or will be) living or working in a different EU member state
- The non-EU family member holds a specific immigration visa or status. It is fine for them to have a nationally issued visa or a student visa or a visitor’s visa or even implied status
- The family member apply in their country of origin
- The family member resides or previously resided in the EU/EEA (This older requirement of some member states was overturned in several ECJ cases, especially Metock)
There is also no legal requirement that you submit:
- bank statements
- pay slips
- letters from your present or future employer or school
- letters of reference
- proof that you will return at the end of the trip
- airline tickets
- confirmed hotel bookings
- references or guarantees from people in the destination country
Please contact the European Commission’s free Solvit service if you have any problems or are required to provide these things. If they can not help, you can easily make a complaint directly to the European Commission.
In the unlikely event visa application is rejected, there must be a detailed explanation given about the reasons for the rejection, and there is an clear appeal process that you will be told about. The only four grounds for rejecting a visa application are:
- public health (i.e. a serious contagious disease)
- national security
- (big) public policy
- the marriage was done solely for getting the visa
There is a core definition under Article 2 of “family member“, which includes spouses, descendents (of EU and of non-EU partner) who are dependent or under 21, and dependent ascendants (again of either the EU or non-EU family member). This includes civil partnerships, if the visa-issuing country recognizes these relationships. People in this category people have the simple life because they have easily documented relationships. They can plonk down their certificate (wedding or birth), and must be issued the visa quickly.
The more broad definition under Article 3 is of “Beneficiaries“. While these people may be granted the visa facilities described in this article, it is unclear if they are legally entitled to all provisions described.
Once you are in your host member state and you stay for longer than 3 months, at that point your host can require you to get a Residence Card and provide evidence that the EU citizen is working or otherwise exercising treaty rights.
Of related interest: No visa but still want to travel?