What does the non-EU family member need to do?

Non-EU family members of an EU citizen have a conditional right of free movement in the EU.      Namely, they have a full right of free movement so long as they are doing it with their EU citizen family member (and also in a few other cases)!

Period in host member state Any Conditions or Requirements on non-EU family member? Notes
Before initial entry Depending on the passport they are using, some family members can be required to have a visa.

Family member can travel if EU citizen is already in the host member state, will be there before the family member arrives (“join”), or they will be travelling together.

Any required visa must be issued.  It is issued for free, on the basis of an accelerated process, and as soon as possible. (See full article on required visas)
Entry to 3 months
3 months to 5 years
Legal residence of the EU-citizen family member is the requirement that applies in most cases.

If that is satisfied, then the non-EU family member is also legally resident in the host EEA member state and they can work if they wish.

There are also right-of-residence retention rules for cases where a marriage breaks up, or where the EU citizen stops working or dies.

“Continuity of residence shall not be affected by temporary absences not exceeding a total of six months a year, or by absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service, or by one absence of a maximum of 12 consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting in another Member State or a third country.” [Directive 2004/38/EC]

The EU citizen is not required to be continuously physically present in the host member state – they only have to be continuously legally resident.  So for instance, the family member can continue working in the host member state while the EU citizen travels outside, so long as the EU citizen maintains their right of legal residence.

Family member can work in this entire period, from the day of entry, so long as the EU citizen is legally resident in the host member state.

More than 5 years None!

Family member automatically has Permanent Residence (PR) after 5 years of legal residence in the host member state.

Once a family member has PR, their right to reside is now permanent, independent of the EU-citizen relationship, and independent of the continued residence of the EU citizen.

Permanent Residence (PR) is only ever lost with an absence from the host member state of more than 2 consecutive years.

Somebody with PR is not required to be working or have savings.

A “PR Card” simply confirms the already-existing Permanent Residence.

Free movement rights can only be curtailed on the exceptional grounds of public health, national security and public policy. This must be proportionate, very well grounded, can only be done in clearly proscribed situations, and there is a full right of appeal.  For most people this is a total non issue.

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