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  1. 1. Immigration conditions
  2. 2. What are public funds?
  3. 3. Who has no recourse to public funds (NRPF)?
  4. 4. Who has recourse to public funds?
  5. 5. Section 3C leave
  6. 6. EEA nationals and family members
  7. 7. Confirming immigration status and access to public funds

EEA nationals and family members

An EEA national's immigration status will determine what entitlements they have to benefitshousing assistance, and other services

Visa requirements

EEA nationals are required to obtain leave to enter or remain in order to visit or live in the UK.

Unless a person is coming to the UK for a short visit, they will need to apply for a visa in advance of their arrival. For example, if a person intends to work in the UK, they must apply for a visa under a specific category of the Immigration Rules and meet the corresponding requirements. See the Home Office guidance about visiting the UK as an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen

An E-visa or digital status will be issued to EEA nationals rather than a physical status document. A person can access their digital status via the Home Office 'view and prove' service.

An EEA national or their family member will usually have one of the following types of immigration status:

  • Settled status (indefinite leave to remain) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Pre-settled status (5 years' limited leave to remain) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • A pending EU Settlement Scheme application
  • EU Settlement Scheme family permit
  • Leave to enter for a specific purpose, such as to visit, work, or study

Irish citizens are exempt from immigration control, so do not require leave to enter or remain to visit or live in the UK. However, some Irish citizens may have opted to obtain settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

EEA visitors

An EEA national entering the UK without valid leave to remain or a prior entry clearance will be treated as a standard visitor. They will have leave to enter for 6 months, but not be issued with any physical or digital evidence of their immigration status. Therefore, a person who enters as a visitor will need to be aware of the date that their leave to enter expires. They will also need to be aware of the conditions that apply to them whilst they are in the UK, which are set out in the Home Office guidance for standard visitors.

EEA nationals without lawful status

An EEA national may find themselves in the position of having no lawful status in the UK if they: 

  • Overstay their leave to remain. For example, if they entered as a visitor and remained in the UK beyond six months without making an application to the Home Office to extend their leave.
  • Were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and have not yet applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Have been refused settled and pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (following an unsuccessful appeal).

If it appears that an EEA national may not have any lawful status in the UK, it will be important to ask further questions to establish whether the person has:

Related terms:

European Economic Area (EEA) countries
The European Economic Area (EEA) is made up of all the European Union (EU) member states, plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. When the term 'EEA national' is used on this website, this also includes Swiss nationals. 

EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, , Ireland, Italy, Latvia, , Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Slovakia, and Sweden.