Surinder Singh

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Surinder Singh was the applicant in a successful case based upon which British Citizens can use EU freedom of movement rights to bring a spouse and other family members with them to the UK

Taken from my blog at:

Information on this page is gained from forum posts made by extremely helpful members of these forums.

Click here for great graphic showing the process

Using the Singh route

Surinder Singh Method for couples in which ONE is UK citizen and the OTHER is partner/spouse from non-EEU country (i.e. non-eea family member)

You can find a printable format of this wiki page: here

Relevant websites for research and recommended reading:
EEA Family Permits
EEA nationals and their family members - General Guidelines
The Surinder Singh Route – Understanding the Law


This route applies if you are the following:

- A UK citizen who is married to a non-EEU member. (List of Non-EU countries here

- Planning to move back to the UK with your spouse

- Intending on working and living in a member state of the EU (e.g. France, Ireland, Spain, etc.) while your spouse is also living with you for 3-6months.

- Able to spare 6 months+ in order to secure family permit for UK


1. Are you married?

2. It is recommended to be married before undertaking the Surinder Singh method.

Helpful information Marriage Abroad Visiting]

Relevant forms

Application Forms
Application Form Guidance

3. Choose another Member State of the EEA in which to work or become self-employed – either way paying taxes. NB – the non-EEA family member is entitled to work also, but it is the EEA citizen’s work period that gets considered for the EEA family permit to enter the UK.


a. Can we move to any European country, for example Ireland?
You need to research whether your wife would need any kind of permission to move to Ireland for settlement as your non-EEA spouse. The need (or not) for this permission would likely vary from country to country, and would likely be free. But it still needs careful research.

The specifics of what she needs to settle with you depend on the country you choose. As the intention is for both of you to ‘settle’ in that country while you work there, you need to check the regulations for non-EEA citizens married or partnered with EU citizens to live with them in that individual country. You will not need anything, but she probably will.

b. Should my spouse/partner apply for a work visa while in the EEA Member State?
No – don’t get any kind of visa. Your spouse can enter for free, and should do as that way they get more rights and fulfil the prerequisities for using Singh.

c. Can I live off savings instead of working while I’m there?
Going to school, living off savings or whatever other previous income or savings would not work. You must directly participate in work in the host EU country for this (not so clear) period of time. The non-EEA/EU spouse may or may not work; it’s NOT her exercising the treaty rights, and her activity is not the key to moving back to the UK under S. Singh. The EU permits & residence car are free and there are no income requirement thresholds.

d. How long should I be working for to qualify for a EEA family permit?
I don’t think it’s necessarily set in stone, but the principle is that the UK citizen has to be exercising their treaty rights more than transiently, and it’s likely that anything less than six months could be considered transient and therefore wouldn’t count.
Just for information the rules around the time spent in the EU are a bit vague, but given you do not need to show you are economically active until after you have been in the UK for 3 months, for defendants of EU nationals from other countries, would think at least 3 months would be required

e. Can my spouse live in his/her home country while I work in another European country and then apply for an EEA family permit?
My research indicates this would not work. The whole point of the S Singh route is that your non-EEA partner lives with you in the other EEA country for the required minimum time (usually recommended to be 6 months) while you the EEA citizen works, then your partner applies for the EEA Family Permit and upon receiving it accompanies you to the UK. You need to do those steps together for the SS route to work properly.

f. Is my spouse/partner able to travel to other countries during this period?
He has to be resident with you while you are working. During that time he is of course free to travel and visit other countries (but can’t live elsewhere)

4. On arriving in the Member State of your choosing, you should acquire a registration certificate ( and then apply for a Residence Card as soon as possible. The residence card is not imperative, your partner can still work, but it makes for applying for an EEA family permit easier (see below). Also, apply as soon as possible as it can take up to 6 months to process. Information about residence cards: here.

My understanding from my own research into this is that acquiring the residence card for living in the other EEA country makes the Singh path easier. Several posters in the past have ALSO noted that it makes getting a job in the other EEA country easier for the non-EEA spouse, because some employers won’t hire the non-EEA spouse/partner without the RC as proof of legal status to work. (This may vary by EEA country.)

But yes, you are correct, the non-EEA family member is allowed to work even without the RC if residing (settling) with the EEA citizen who is exercising EU Treaty rights by working in the EEA country.

5. After working in the Member State for 6 months (recommended) apply for the EA family permit:
i. How to apply
ii. Forms
iii. Guidance notes
iv. Checklist for EEA Application

6. Once successful, you can move into the UK. The EEA Family Permit would be issued for 6 months and allows unrestricted employment in the UK for that time. Your partner should start applying for residence (normally valid for 5 years) in the UK using this form


a. Do we need to apply for an EEA family permit before entering the UK, or can we just apply while in the UK?
As the relevant documents required for the Surinder Singh route are those from the other member state, it make sense to verify you have all the required documents before returning to the UK. Obtaining them later might be more difficult. Also, the local staff in the consulate can normally read documents in the local language so there is no need to translate them. [x]According to the law you could just turn up at the border with your marriage certificate, passports and Italian residence permits and the border agents would have to let you in. I saw a report this week from someone who successfully did that. But you have to drive or take the train, no airline will let you board under those circumstances.

b. How soon should we start applying for a residence card in the UK?
My Awful Warning is ‘Get yourselves to the UK and submit your EEA2 application before your family permit expires. There is no guarantee it would be renewed’.

c. Should I start applying for residence in the UK or will my partner be fine to start working?
It is advisable for the family member to apply for a Residence Card using form EEA2. The form has a dedicated section for Surinder Singh cases. You will need to provide (again) evidence of the British national employment in the other member state and evidence of residence there. The application can be made any time once you return.

While theoretically you are entitled to work on family permit, most employers want to see clear documentary evidence for it (family permit says nothing about working, whereas residence card does – ‘Employment and business activities permitted’. All you can do is to point out the relevant sections on UKBA site, or ask them to phone Employers’ Helpline for clarification. You may find that all this is of no avail and you won’t get a job confirmed until you have residence card or at least certificate of application showing the right to work.

d. Does my partner need to be working before applying for the EEA2?
No. Under Surinder Singh, your UK partner doesn’t need a job in UK, so you can apply for residence card straight after arrival, and it should be issued, though there is a wait time of up to 6 months, sometimes longer, because of backlog of applications. Hopefully you get your certificate of application soon after, which can state you are allowed to work.

e. What do I do while waiting for an EEA2?
The European casework department endeavours to issue certificates of application within 10 days of receipt of a valid application where possible. I can confirm that there is currently no reported delay in issuing certificate of applications where valid applications are received. If you have waited longer than 10 days for a certificate of application to be issued, please contact the Immigration Enquiry Bureau on 0870 606 7766. A certificate of application confirms the applicant’s entitlement to seek employment, and is valid for a period of six months.

Other reading:
Live and Work in the UK as a Family Member of an EU Citizen

7. After 5 years of residing in the UK your partner can then apply for permanent residence using this form: Application Form

After 5 years of residence, an application for Confirmation of PR status using form EEA4 can be applied for. Again, the same evidence from the other member state is required. Once a PR status has been obtained (after 5 years of residence), the non-EEA national can apply for British citizenship as a spouse of BC.

Recommended reading: Policy and Law

Other notes:
The EEA family permit to enter the UK initially used to cost approx 5GBP for postage. A residency permit in another EEA country cannot cost more than a residency permit / ID card for a local. An EEA-permit visa for initial entry to the other EEA country must be free (but they can charge for postage). The EEA family permit int he UK is also free (plus postage). Plus the cost of copying all the documents, going to the various application centers (the UK EEA permit requires biometrics) etc. Still compared to the UK visa it’s as close to free as you will get.

This route is not a loophole, it’s a perfectly legal route that has been tested in court.

Relevant UKBA pages

Active Discussions/Threads

There are several active/useful discussions taking place on the forum that you may find useful and may wish to read or participate in:
My experience of going the Surinder Singh route so far
EEA Family Permit / Surinder Singh process - quick questions!
Tell me more about the Surrinder Singh process please?
My Surinder Singh plan, please help with any holes
Surinder Singh Family Permit - can spouse leave the EU country I'm working in?