Tue | Mar 20, 2018

What's a residence card used for?

Published:Tuesday | October 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

What is a residence card used for in the United Kingdom and who is eligible?

- RK

Dear RK,

A residence card for a family member of a European Union citizen is issued to the family member to confirm this right of residence. The holder of a valid residence card is entitled to use this document in lieu of an entry visa for entry to all European Economic Area (EEA) member states and he or she is subject to certain conditions.

A person can apply for a residence card if he or she is from outside the EEA and is living with a European partner or family member. Such a person does not need a residence card to live in the United Kingdom, but it can help that individual to re-enter the country more quickly and easily if travelling abroad; show employers he or she is allowed to work in the United Kingdom; and help prove that he or she can qualify for certain benefits and services. A residence card can last up to five years, but after five years the holder can apply for a permanent residence card.

A person can apply for a residence card if he or she is living in the United Kingdom with a family member who is an EEA citizen. To be eligible, he or she must be related to an EEA citizen as their spouse or civil partner; child, or their spouse or civil partner's child, and less than 21 years old; unmarried partner and can show that he or she is in a lasting relationship with the citizen; or as a 'dependent' family.

A person can apply as a 'dependant' of an EEA family member if the applicant is financially dependent on that person, that is, being reliant on him or her to pay for the applicant's essential needs, he or she has a serious health condition and relies on that person to care for him or her. There are conditions such as the dependant must be family of the EEA citizen, or their spouse or civil partner, and he or she can be parents or grandparents; children over 21 years old; or extended family members (such as brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces).

Family members who are adopted under an adoption order that is recognised in United Kingdom law are regarded the same as natural family.

Different rules

Further, there are different rules that apply if that person is a family member of an EEA citizen who is a student. In such a case, he or she can only get a residence card if their child or their spouse or civil partner's child are either under 21 years old or over 21 years old and dependent on them.

A person can also apply for a residence card if he or she has a 'retained right of residence'. For example, such a person's marriage or civil partnership to an EEA citizen has ended with a divorce, annulment or dissolution; the person's EEA family member has died or left the country; the person is the child of an EEA citizen who has died or left the United Kingdom, or the child of their spouse or civil partner, or former spouse or civil partner; or you are the non-EEA parent, or former partner of an EEA national with custody of a child who has a right to reside in the United Kingdom.

The documents that must be provided for each person on the application he or she will need to provide are a current passport; two passport-size colour photographs; the applicant's EEA family member's valid passport or national identity card; evidence of the relationship to the EEA family member, for example marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, birth certificate, proof that the parties have lived together for two years if unmarried. Proof that the EEA family member is employed, self-employed or able to support the applicant without applying for benefits and a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh will need to be provided. Also, a person may need to provide additional documents depending on his or her circumstances.

The residence card application form may be downloaded and then it has to be posted to the Home Office with the fee and supporting documents listed on the form. The cost to apply is £55 for each person.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com.