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CIH Scotland

New Arrivals


European family members

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

On 1 January 2021 the law about housing and benefit entitlements for EU nationals changed, see the first section below. Our Brexit news page has any late updates not yet added to this page.

Who does this page apply to?

The law about the rights of EEA nationals to live, work and claim access to housing, benefits and other services changed on 1 January 2021 when the Brexit transition period ended. You have the rights described on this page only if:

  • you are the family member of an EEA citizen (and also see below if you are the family member of an Irish citizen who was born in Northern Ireland);
  • the EEA citizen you are accompanying entered the UK before 11:00 pm on 31 December 2020;
  • you arrived in the UK to join them before 1 July 2021;
  • you do not have EU settled status (whether you have made application to the EU Settlement Scheme or not); and
  • you make (or have already made) an application to the EU Settlement Scheme before 1 July 2021.

If all of these apply to, this page describes your rights to housing and benefits, up to and including 30 June 2021, and from 1 July 2021 onwards but only if you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme before then. Note the rights that you have differ depending whether you (the family member) entered the UK before 1 January 2021 or between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021.

In other case, your rights to housing and benefits are described on other pages, as follows:

Who is a family member?

Where an EEA national had a right to reside in the UK, that right usually extended to members of their family, even if the family members are not themselves EEA citizens. In addition former EEA family members could keep their family member rights even though the family relationship had ended. 

Whether or not you qualify as a family member depends on the status of the person you are accompanying (e.g. worker, self-employed, student). But from 1 January 2021 it also depends on when you (the EEA family member) and the EEA national you accompany arrived in the UK and whether either or both of you have settled or pre-settled status.

Rights of family members who arrived in the UK before 1 January 2021

The rights to reside below (ordinary and permanent) expire on 30 June 2021. To continue to live, work and access services in the UK lawfully after then you must make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme before they expire.

Family members with an (ordinary) right to reside

This section applies to you if you are a family member who arrived to join a European national in the UK before 1 January 2021.

You are a ‘family member’ if the person you accompany is an EEA national with a right to reside, and you are:

  • their husband or wife (i.e. married, not just partners); or
  • their civil partner; or
  • a direct descendant (child, grandchild, etc) of that person or of their spouse or civil partner and either:
    • you are aged under 21; or
    • you are dependent on him/her or on their spouse or civil partner (for example, because of being disabled or studying); or
  • a dependent direct relative in ascending line of that person or of their spouse or civil partner (i.e. a parent/grandparent).

But if the EEA national you accompany is a student without any other right to reside then you only qualify as their family member if you are their husband/wife/civil partner or dependent child (i.e. under 18 or dependant in other ways).

You are:

  • an 'extended family member' if you have been issued with an EEA family permit; and you are:
    • a dependent relative of and reside with, or wish to join, the EEA worker, or his or her spouse or civil partner, not covered by the (family member) list above; or
    • a partner (not being a spouse or civil partner) in a 'durable relationship'; or
    • a relative of either the EEA national, his or her spouse or civil partner, and who, for serious health reasons, is provided with personal care by that EEA national, spouse or civil partner.

You are a dependant (for family member or extended family member status) if you:

  • are living in the same household and sharing living expenses, or
  • need the financial support of the relative on whom you are dependent, or
  • need the care of the relative on whom you are dependent (because of illness or disability), or
  • some combination of these.

Family members with the permanent right to reside

If you are a family member (or a former family member in the circumstances set out below) you have a permanent right to reside if one of these applies to you:

  • you are not an EEA national, but you have resided with an EEA national who had a right to reside as his/her family member for a continuous period of five years;
  • you have continuously resided in the UK for a period of five years using either your family member rights and/or your EEA rights (e.g. as a worker) and at the end of that period you were a former family member with a retained right of residence;
  • the EEA national you accompany has acquired a permanent right to reside through retirement or permanent incapacity and:
    • you were their family member at the point they stopped working, and
    • immediately before he/she stopped working, he/she was a worker or self-employed person and your right to reside was as their family member;
  • you were the family member of a worker or self-employed person who has died and:
    • you were living with him/her immediately before they died, and
    • either the deceased person had lived continuously in the UK for at least two years immediately before he/she died, orhe/she died because of an accident at work or an occupational disease.

Rights of family members who arrived in the UK between 1 January and 30 June 2021

If you arrived to join a European family member in the UK on or after 1 January 2021, the rules are different. You are a family member if the person you join is an EEA national with a right to reside and, on 31 December 2020, you were:

  • their husband or wife (i.e. married, not just partners); or
  • their civil partner; or
  • a partner (not being a spouse or civil partner) in a 'durable relationship'; or
  • a direct descendant (child, grandchild, etc) of that person or of their spouse or civil partner and either:
    • you are aged under 21; or
    • you are dependent on him/her or on their spouse or civil partner (for example, because of being disabled or studying); or
  • a dependent direct relative in ascending line of that person or of their spouse or civil partner (i.e. a parent/grandparent).

A child born to or adopted after 31 December 2020 and before 30 June 2021 by a European national who had a right to reside on 31 December 2020 also counts as a family member.

You are a dependant (for family member or extended family member status) if you:

  • are living in the same household and sharing living expenses, or
  • need the financial support of the relative on whom you are dependent, or
  • need the care of the relative on whom you are dependent (because of illness or disability), or
  • some combination of these.

If you are a family member who arrives in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 you must to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 to continue living in the UK lawfully after then.

What documents might you be asked for?

 If you are a family member you may not have any documents other than your passport or ID cards, and you will also need some proof of the family relationship (birth, marriage, or civil partnership certificate) and of the dependence, where relevant.

Once you have settled or pre-settled status you will not necessarily have any paper proof of this: it is a digital status, and you have to provide details of how to check it as required. 

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

You are entitled to housing, homeless assistance and universal credit or housing benefit without any further conditions (as is the person you accompany) if:

If you are the family member/extended family member of an EEA national with some other right to reside you will have the same rights as the person you are accompanying. If their right to reside is not through working you must also be habitually resident to qualify for housing or benefits. In Scotland, if the family member you accompany is an EEA jobseeker, you also have the right to join the council waiting list or receive help if you are homeless (but you don’t qualify for universal credit or housing benefit). 

If you are a family/member or extended family member you can apply for a tenancy with a private landlord or direct from a housing association.

If you have applied for and been granted ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme you have the right to housing and benefits even if you no longer have an EU right to reside. If you have been granted ‘pre-settled status’ you only have rights to housing and benefits in line with your EU right to reside (i.e. as an EEA family member).

See also:

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland