EU nationals: homelessness rights of family members

You may be eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you are a family member of an EU or EEA national, even if you are from outside the EU or EEA

How the council can help if you are homeless

You may be eligible for assistance from the council if you become homeless if you are the family member of an EU or EEA national who is or was living in the UK. 

Help from the council could be advice only, or it could be help with emergency accommodation or help to find longer-term housing.

If you ask the council for help, it will decide if you are eligible for assistance

If the council won't help

For housing advice, call Shelter's helpline on  0808 800 4444 . Use Shelter's directory to find local advice.

You must act quickly to challenge the council's decision if the council tells you in writing that you are not eligible for assistance. You have only 21 days to ask for a review.  Call Civil Legal Advice if you qualify for legal aid.

You'll need a specialist immigration adviser if you are not sure about your immigration status.

Find out more from AdviceGuide about help with immigration problems.

Who counts as a family member of an EU or EEA national

You count as a family member of an EU or EEA national if you are their:

  • husband, wife or civil partner
  • child or grandchild aged under 21
  • child or grandchild over the age of 21 and you are dependent on them 
  • parent or grandparent and you are dependent on them

You also count as a family member of an EU or EEA national if UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have issued you with a registration certificate or residence card because you:

  • live with them in a long-term relationship 
  • are related to and dependent on them either financially or in practical terms
  • have serious health problems and require personal care from the EEA national you are related to, or from their husband, wife or civil partner

Partners who are not married or civil partners and relatives other than children, grandchildren or parents must have residence documentation issued by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to have the rights of a family member. Other family members do not have to apply for residence documentation but it can be a useful proof of status. 

Find out more from Gov.uk about residence documentation for family members

If you are the family member of a British citizen, you don't count as the family member of an EU or EEA national unless they were working or self-employed in a different EEA country and you lived there with them before you returned to the UK as a family. 

Homelessness rights of family members

If you are homeless, you are eligible for assistance from the council in your own right if you are the family member of an EU or EEA national who is a worker or self-employed or has a permanent right to reside in the UK.

This applies even if you are a national of a country outside the EU or EEA.

It also applies even if you no longer live with the EU or EEA national as long as any of these apply:

  • are still legally married or in a civil partnership
  • are their child or grandchild aged under 21
  • have permanent residence yourself 

Main carer of a child of an EU or EEA national

The child of an EU or EEA worker has a right to live and complete their education in the UK. Only one parent has to be an EU or EEA worker. As long as the child has entered education the right to live here will continue even if the EU or EEA worker parent dies, leaves the UK or stops working.

The child of an EU or EEA national who was self-employed, job-seeking, self-sufficient or a student has the right to live and complete their education in the UK only if their EU national parent has died or left the UK.  

If you are the main carer of a child in either of these situations you will also have a right to live here if your child would be unable to complete their education in the UK if you had to leave. You will also be eligible for assistance from the council when homeless.

If your marriage or civil partnership ends

If you separate from your EU or EEA husband, wife or civil partner but remain legally married or in a civil partnership then you will be eligible for assistance when homeless if they are a worker or self-employed or have a permanent right to reside in the UK.

In some situations, you have a continuing right to reside and are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless even if your marriage or civil partnership with an EU or EEA national has ended through divorce or dissolution. 

This applies if you are working, self-employed or self-sufficient and:

  • your marriage or civil partnership lasted for at least three years with at least one years' residence in the UK
  • you have residency of, or access to, a child of your former partner and residency or access must be in the UK
  • in certain cases only, you were a victim of domestic abuse during the marriage or civil partnership

Rights after bereavement

You are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you have a retained or permanent right to reside as the family member of an EU or EEA national who has died. 

Retained right to reside following a bereavement

You have a retained right to reside if you are working, self-employed or self-sufficient, and you were living in the UK as a family member for at least a year before the death.

If you were the spouse, civil partner or a child aged under the age of 21, there is no requirement that you were living with them when they died.

Permanent right to reside following a bereavement

In some circumstances, you have a permanent right to reside if you were a family member of an EU national who died.

This applies if the person who died was working or self-employed and lived in the UK for at least two years immediately before they died, or died because of an accident at work or an occupational disease. You must have lived with them immediately before they died.

In these circumstances, you don't have to be working, self-employed or self-sufficient yourself to get the right to reside.

After five years' residence

You are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you have a permanent right to reside in the UK.

Many family members of EU and EEA nationals get a permanent right to reside after living and working in the UK for five years.

Find out more about homeless rights for people with a permanent right to reside.

 

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