23 May 2015

The Cyprus Route - How British Citizens and their Non-EU Families can return to the UK

The Cyprus Route – (Surinder Singh route) for spouses and families of British citizens

This is an immigration route, named after the person who filed a court case, can be used by non-EU family members of British citizens to secure a UK visa – but under EU law. Many thousands of family members of EEA citizens, (Non-EU Citizens) are applying using the European law. This is where they get an EEA Family Permit for 6 months outside the UK and then a 5 year Residence Card when they return to the UK.

EU citizens enjoy ‘Freedom of Movement’ around the whole of the EU. An EU citizen can enter the UK together with his/her Non-EU spouse/family.
What does it mean to be an EU citizen? Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen.  EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace it.
EU citizenship gives every EU citizen a number of important rights, including:
the right to move freely around the European Union and settle anywhere within its territory.

Many people are surprised when they discover that this 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. We know that many laws in the EU conflict with British laws.
There is one way around it: the 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 UK 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 UK Immigration Rules.

Applying under the EU law means no English test and no financial requirements (The British citizen does not have to prove an income of £18,600 as introduced by the British Government in 2012). Plus an EEA Family Permit (if coming from outside the UK) is FREE, compared to the £1500 fee for those applying under the UK Immigration Rules – ILR Visa (Indefinite Leave to Remain) (fees as at 6 April 2015). Getting a UK Residence Card for 5 years is the objective and costs only £55.

Using the SS route, there are conditions to meet.
1) A British citizen must go and work in another EU member country (or be self-employed) before returning to the UK. This is how there is ‘Movement within the EU’. 
2) For a minimum period of 3 months but better to stay longer. It could take up to 6 months.

3) The British citizen’s ‘Centre of life’ must have been transferred to that other EU member country. There is no exhaustive list to prove it, but examples are: renting a place to live or buying a property (as opposed to staying at a hotel), getting a job or setting up a business in that country.

4) In the case of Non-EU spouses, both UK and non-EU spouse must have lived together in that EU member country and been married BEFORE returning to the UK. E.g. a British man already married to a woman from Ukraine could go to live and work in Cyprus.

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

6) 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 (i.e. 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).

7) 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).

8) The European law differentiates between ‘family members’ and ‘extended family members’. The difference is very important! For example, children or grandchildren under 21 y.o. (not under 18 y.o. as under the British law) of an EEA national or of his/her spouse, so step-children can qualify as well. Those who are aged 21yo or older can be considered if they are dependent.

Please contact Cyprus Universal Services for ADVICE on how to proceed further.

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