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UK Residence Card: Eligibility Criteria, Cost and Steps to Apply

Apply for a UK Residence Card if you are a Non-EEA national but living in the United Kingdom as family members of EEA national exercising treaty rights. Though the application for a UK residence card can be made if you are already in the UK. But if you are applying from outside the UK to join your EEA national family member, you should instead apply for an EEA family permit. Before now, the EEA Residence Card applications were compulsory for extended family members of EEA or Swiss nationals.

However, you can no longer apply for a UK residence card, also called an EEA biometric residence card (BRC) based on the new UK policy. Also, you cannot use your UK residence card to confirm your right to live, work or rent in the UK. Rather to continue living in the UK, you need another type of permission to stay, such as settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Moreover, EEA Family Residence Card and Permanent Residence card applications are different. Non-EU family members of the European Economic Area national can apply for the EEA Family Residence card after holding a Family Permit for six months; allowing the holder to live and work in the UK without restriction. Those who remain living in the UK for five years can then apply for the EEA Permanent Residence Card

Therefore, we will be explaining what a UK residence card is, how to apply for it, who can apply and eligibility requirements for this card.

Meaning of UK residence card

A UK residence card is a card that functions as a visa that enables one to live and work in the UK. The residence card lasts for up to five years, after which the recipient can apply for permanent residency.

Moreover, before 2021, the residence card was a mandatory requirement for extended family members of EEA nationals to prove their immigration status. For direct family members of EEA nationals or Swiss nationals, it was not a legal requirement but helped to evidence the holder’s right to work, to prove qualification for certain benefits and services, and helped to speed up the process at the border of gaining entry back into the UK. Those with a retained right of residence or making Surinder Singh application could also apply.

Eligibility for UK residence cards

If you are the family member or extended family member of an EEA citizen and you aren’t currently an EEA national yourself, e.g. partner of an EEA national. Your family member must be a ‘qualified person’ in the eyes of the UK government, which means that he or she should be studying or working in some capacity.

Direct family members

Direct family members of EEA nationals are considered only spouses, civil partners, children or grandchildren under 21, or dependent parents or grandparents. The criteria are different for those applying as a relative of a student in the UK.

Extended family members

Extended family members of EEA citizens are considered unmarried partners in a similar situation to civil partnership or marriage, or a relative not mentioned under the direct family member list. The latter list includes siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

UK residence card application conditions

You should apply for a UK residence card on the basis that you are either:

  • are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen and you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
  • are a close family member of an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, and you were both living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
  • are an ‘extended’ family member of an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen and you have a UK residence card, or you applied for one by 31 December 2020.
  • are the family member of a British citizen and you must have lived with them in the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, and they must have been working, studying or self-sufficient in the country.
  • have ‘retained rights of residence’ for example if you were previously married to an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen and you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

How to apply for a UK residence card

To apply for a UK residence card, there are few steps you are going to follow which are:

Go to the government of the UK website

You can visit to download two application forms; one is for direct family members and the other is for extended family members. The cost and processing times are the same.

Post application documents

You have to post the application and supporting documents to the Home Office along with the fee. As this type of UK visa is becoming increasingly popular, processing times for this can take anywhere from two to six months.

Gather your supporting documents

You may request to have the supporting documents sent back to you before the decision is made for instance, your EEA family member’s passports and other documents.

Convert your money into British pounds

If you’re about to move to the UK, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into British pounds.

However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.

Required documents for EEA Residence Card Application

To make a successful application, you will need to provide the following (non-exhaustive) documents:

  • a valid passport.
  • evidence of your relationship to your EEA family member, for example, a marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, birth certificate, or proof that you’ve lived together for two years if unmarried.
  • your family member’s valid passport or national identity card (or a certified copy if you can’t provide the original).
  • proof of your dependency if you’re dependent on your EEA family member.
  • proof that your EEA family member has permanent residency status or if they have been in the country for more than three months is exercising their Treaty rights.

Points of note during UK residence card application

There are few things to take note of as you apply for UK residence card. They are:

  • If you have travelling plans within the six months from the day you submit your application, make sure that is included with your application.
    If any of your documents aren’t in English, or Welsh, you will have to submit certified translations of each document.
  • You will also have to provide biometric information, which can easily be done at any UK Post Office and currently costs just under £20.
  • You will know if your application has been successful when you receive a letter from the Home Office. Your supporting documents and residence card should appear in the post within two weeks.
  • If your passport expires before the end of the five-year duration of your UK residence card, you will, unfortunately, have to reapply for the UK residence card.
  • The card is non-transferable to new passports, even if you have years left on the UK residence card. The same goes for any damaged, lost, expired, or stolen UK residence cards.
  • While you may work and live in the UK under this card, you are not eligible to work and live in any other EEA or EU country. If you move from the UK to another country in Europe, you will have to figure out a new visa for that country.
  • Also, when traveling abroad you are still considered a citizen of your home country and must provide that passport. However, you do get to go through the UK/EU passport line at UK Border Control, just show your residence card and answer a few questions.


What are the processing times for a UK residence card?

Following the Home Office’s website, standard processing times for a Residence card application are up to 6 months. Most applications are decided in 2-3 months on average, depending on any complexities.

What are EEA Residence Card Fees?

It costs £65 per applicant to make an application for an EEA residence card. In addition, you might have to pay £19.20 if you need to provide your biometric information.

What Are the Advantages of Obtaining an EEA Residence Card?

With an EEA Residence Card, you can travel to the UK with the confidence of knowing you will not experience any problems at the border. In addition, after five years, you may be able to apply for an EEA Permanent Residence Card, and eventually, British Citizenship.

What Can I Do If My Application for an EEA Family Residence Card or EEA Permanent Residence Card is Refused?

The refusal of an EEA Residence Card or EEA Permanent Residence Card has a full right of appeal for both family members and extended family members. If your application is refused, our lawyers will carefully examine the reasons and advise you on the best action to take to rectify the situation. Options include submitting the application, appealing the decision, or challenging it via Judicial Review.

What is the difference between a residence card and a residence permit?

A residence permit is a general term for permission to reside in a particular country. It could refer to any status under national or EU rules in a category other than as a visitor. A residence card is a particular term used for a residence permit for a dependant of an EU national.

How long does it take to get a UK residence card?

If your immigration application was made from inside the UK, your Biometric Residence Permit should be received within 7 to 10 days from the receipt of your decision letter. Your BRP will be sent to the address provided as part of your application.

Does the UK permanent residence card expire?

The residence card is usually valid for five years, so it needs to be renewed every five years. You can apply for your residence card to be renewed through the British government website and you’ll get your new card in the mail.

Do UK citizens have a residence card?

You do not have to apply separately for a BRP. BRPs are different from biometric residence cards (BRCs). BRCs are also called ‘UK residence cards’. You might have one if you’re in the UK as a family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein.

What is BRP Card UK?

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a secure identity card that contains personal details and biometric information for those who have permission (a visa) to come to the UK for more than 6 months. When your visa is granted you will be issued with a vignette (sticker in your passport) which is valid for 30 days.

How long can I stay outside the UK with a residence card?

You are allowed to spend time outside of the UK so long as these periods of absence do not exceed 6 months at any one time. It does not matter how much time you spend outside of the UK in total during the required 5-year continuous residence period provided you return each time after a maximum of 6 months.

Can I travel to the USA with a UK residence card?

If you’re planning to enter or transit through the USA using an ETD, you must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate before you travel, which may take some days, or hold a valid lawful permanent resident card (often referred to as a ‘green card’), which you must have with you on arrival.


With our guide, we believe you have known how to apply for the UK Residence Card. Therefore, follow how we have stated to get your UK residence card if you are eligible. If you’re planning to visit the United Kingdom, a UK Visitors visa should be your first step.

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