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Rights of residence for financially self-sufficient EEA citizens

The Free Movement of Persons Directive 2004/38 EC sets out the right of EEA nationals and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the EEA Member States. The Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006  (‘2006 Regulations’) (as amended) transpose the Free Movement Directive into UK law. The Regulations describe the rights of EEA nationals and their family members to enter and reside in the UK.

EEA nationals are entitled to reside in the UK for an initial period of three months without needing to exercise a Treaty right.  An EEA national who will be in the UK for more than three months will have a right of residence for as long as they remain a ‘qualified person’.

Regulation 6 of the 2006 Regulations defines a qualified person as an EEA national who is in the UK and exercising a Treaty right as a worker, self-employed person, jobseeker, student or self-sufficient person.

What is a self-sufficient person?

Regulation 4(1)(c) of the 2006 Regulations defines a self-sufficient person as a person who has:

  • sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the United Kingdom during his period of residence; and
  • comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the United Kingdom.

Regulation 4(4) of the 2006 Regulations confirms that the resources of a person will be regarded as sufficient if:

  • they exceed the maximum level of resources which a British citizen and his family members may possess if he is to become eligible for social assistance under the United Kingdom benefit system; or
  • paragraph (a) does not apply but, taking into account the personal situation of the person concerned and, where applicable, any family members, it appears to the decision maker that the resources of the person or persons concerned should be regarded as sufficient.

The EEA national must therefore be able to provide evidence that they have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the UK’s social assistance system during their period of residence and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover. There is no fixed amount that is regarded as ‘sufficient resources’. The personal situation of each applicant must be taken into account.

There is no requirement regarding the origin of the resources on the basis of which an EU citizen may be self-sufficient.  To assess whether an EU national is self-sufficient in the UK, he or she only needs to show that there are sufficient resources available. This in turn means that the origin of the resources can equally be from employment of a spouse or other family member, a point made by the CJEU on several occasions (see, e.g., C-200/02 Chen [2004] ECR I-9525 and C-86/12 Alokpa 10 October 2013). Regulation 4(4) of the 2006 Regulations now confirms that an EEA national can qualify as self-sufficient based on the income of their non-EEA family member.

A retired person will also qualify as self-sufficient if they can demonstrate that they are in receipt of a pension and / or have sufficient funds not to become a burden on the social assistance system.  Again, they must also have comprehensive sickness insurance cover.

What is comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI)?

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance is any private medical insurance policy that will cover the cost of most of the medical treatment that an individual may require whilst in the UK.  Ordinary travel insurance is unlikely to be sufficient as most travel insurance policies are of a temporary nature and cover emergency treatment only, whilst limitations and exclusions may prevent even a private medical insurance policy from being regarded as comprehensive.

Recourse to the NHS will only satisfy the comprehensive sickness insurance criterion where there are reciprocal arrangements between the UK and the person’s own country whereby the UK Government recovers the costs of NHS treatment from the person’s own state (Ahmad v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 988).

What about family members of self-sufficient persons?

The family members who can join a self-sufficient person are their spouse or civil partner and any dependent descendants of that person, or the spouse or partner (children and grandchildren) and any of their dependent relatives in the ascending line (i.e. parents and grandparents) (see Regulations 7(1) of the 2006 Regulations).

Contact Us

For advice and assistance with applying for an EEA residence document as a financially self-sufficient person, or as the family member of a financially self-sufficient person, contact our immigration barristers & lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.


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