Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (September 2011)|
European Economic Area (EEA) citizens have the right of free movement and residence throughout the EEA. This right also extends to certain family members, even if they are not EEA citizens. A Residence card of a family member of 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 EEA member states, subject to conditions (although not all EEA states recognise this entitlement).
Qualifying family members of the citizen are:
- the spouse
- the registered partner, if the legislation of the host Member State treats registered partnerships as equivalent to marriage
- the direct descendants who are under the age of 21, or are dependants and those of the spouse or partner as defined above
- the dependent direct relatives in the ascending line (parents, grandparents) and those of the spouse or partner.
"Dependent" here is defined as someone who is either:
- systematically preparing for a future profession,
- cannot systematically prepare for a future profession or perform gainful activities due to illness or injury; or
- is not capable of performing systematic gainful activities due to a chronic adverse health condition.
The Residence Card is defined in articles 9 to 11 of the "Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States". The central paragraph is article 10(1):
The right of residence of family members of a Union citizen who are not nationals of a Member State shall be evidenced by the issuing of a document called "Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen" no later than six months from the date on which they submit the application.
So the card only confirms the right of residence, it does not create it. Even without applying for a Residence Card, a qualifying family member has the right of residence, although it may be difficult to prove.
Implementation in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has implemented this directive in the EEA Regulations (UK) and the European Casework Instructions  (especially Chapter 5 and Annex A). This implementation contains a notable difference from the directive:
- The UK does not accept Residence Cards issued by other states for entry into the UK. This contradicts the directive, which says that the residence card grants entry to any EU member state. In fact, this is cited as one of the main advantages of the new directive by the European Commission.
The application for a Residence Card in the UK is easy. It is usually handled using Form EEA2, and the application is sent by post. Unfortunately, the processing time seems to be very close to the legal maximum of 6 month and sometimes exceeds this limit (as of 2008), and there is absolutely no way to accelerate the process. The Certificate of Application is returned within a few weeks, but it is not clear which purpose it serves apart from explaining in general terms the right to work.
Ireland calls its Residence Card Stamp 4EUFam (EU Directive 2004/38/EC). Ireland has now implemented this part of the directive in full according to IMMIGRATION ACT 2004 (VISAS) ORDER 2011 and therefore it is possible for family members to gain entry into Ireland with a residence card issued by any member state.
- Chalmers, Damian; Davies, Gareth; Monti, Giorgio (2011). European Union Law (2nd ed.). UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 474–6, p. 474, at Google Books. ISBN 0521121515.
- "Petition 1307/2007 by Richard Willmer (British), on denial of the right of the wife of a British Citizen exercising treaty rights in Italy to accompany her husband to the UK". 26 September 2008. p. 1, the only residence card valid for entry in the UK is the one issued by the UK Authorities. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order 2011.". Retrieved 26 January 2014.