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Students

Updated : 16/10/2013

Non-EU family members

My spouse / children

This section is about the rights of your family members who are not EU nationals, and are accompanying or joining you when you move from one EU country to another.

Staying abroad for up to 3 months

Your non-EU spouse and dependent (grand)children may stay with you in another EU country. If they stay for less than 3 months, all they need is a valid passport and sometimes, depending on the country they are from, an entry visa.

More about entry visa requirements/exemptions.

Before you leave, please check with the consulate of the country you are going to whether your non-EU family members will require an entry visa, and how long it will take to obtain.

Reporting presence

Some EU countries require your non-EU spouse and (grand)children to report their presence within a reasonable period of time after arrival and may impose a penalty, such as a fine, if they don't.

Before they go to the other country, please check the deadlines and relevant conditions for reporting presence with the national authorities.

Your spouse or (grand)children should always carry their passport with them at all times.

In some EU countries, they can be fined or temporarily detained if they leave these documents at home, but they cannot be expelled just for this.

Equal treatment

During their stay, you should be treated as nationals of the country, notably as regards access to employment, pay, benefits facilitating access to work, enrolment in schools etc.

Even if they are staying as a tourist, they should not, for example, have to pay higher fees to visit museums or when buying transport tickets, etc.

Exception: If you are a pensioner, some EU countries may decide not to grant you and your family income support for the first 3 months in that country.

Expulsion

Your new country can, in exceptional cases, decide to expel your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents on grounds of public policy, public security, or public health - but only if it can prove they represent a serious threat.

The expulsion decision must be given to them in writing. It must state all the grounds and specify how they can appeal and by when.

Staying abroad for more than 3 months

Your spouse and your dependent children may stay in the EU country where you are studying with you if you:

  • are enrolled in an approved educational establishment
  • have sufficient income to support your whole family without needing income support
  • have comprehensive health insurance for your whole family in that country.

National authorities may not require your income to be above the level that would qualify you for basic income support. The income may come from your family, partner or any other source.

Residence card

Your non-EU spouse and (grand)children must apply for a residence document with the authorities in the new country (often the town hall or local police station) within 3 months of arriving. They will then be issued with a residence card.

To get a residence card, they will need:

  • a valid passport
  • your registration certificate or any other proof of your residence in the country
  • proof of your family relationship, such as a marriage, partnership or birth certificate
  • for children, proof that they are dependent on you.

No other documents may be requested.

The residence card is often issued free of charge (or at the same charge as identity cards for nationals).

On the residence card it should be clearly stated that it is a residence card of an EU national family member.

The authorities should make their decision to issue the residence card or not within 6 months. If they do not do so, you can call on our assistance service.

The residence card should be valid for 5 years (or for your planned length of stay, if shorter), though you may need to report any change of address to the authorities.

In many countries, your spouse or children will need to carry their residence card and passport at all times. If they leave them at home, they may be fined or temporarily detained but cannot be expelled just for this.

Equal treatment

During their stay in your new country, your non-EU spouse or children should be treated as nationals of the country, notably as regards access to employment, pay, benefits facilitating access to work, enrolment in schools etc.

Some EU countries may decide not to give students and their families a maintenance grant for studies until they qualify for permanent residence.

Request to leave / expulsion

Your non-EU spouse/(grand)children may live with you in another EU country as long as they continue to meet the conditions for residence. If they no longer do so, the national authorities may require them to leave -but they cannot be expelled.

In exceptional cases, your new country can decide to expel them on grounds of public policy or public security but only if it can prove they represent a very serious threat.

The expulsion decision or request to leave must be given to them in writing, stating all the grounds and specifying how they can appeal and by when.

Death - Divorce

If you were living legally in another EU country and died or got divorced before acquiring permanent residence there (usually by living there for 5 years), your non-EU spouse or (grand) children may stay there, if:

  • they've been living there for at least 1 year before your death or
  • your marriage has lasted for at least 3 years before divorce proceedings were initiated, including 1 year living in the other country.

To be able to stay, your non-EU family members must also meet the same conditions for residence as EU nationals.

Check rights, conditions and formalities:

Permanent residence

After living legally in your new country in the EU continuously for 5 years, your non-EU spouse and (grand)children automatically acquire the right of permanent residence there without having to meet any further conditions - they can stay as long as they want even if they don't work and need income support.

Their continuity of residence is not affected by:

  • temporary absences (less than 6 months a year)
  • longer absences (compulsory military service)
  • one absence of no more than 12 consecutive months for important reasons like pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, work, vocational training or a posting to another country.

They should enjoy the same rights, benefits and advantages as nationals.

They can lose their right to permanent residence if they live outside the country over 2 consecutive years.

Permanent residence card

Find out how to have a permanent residence card issued to certify their right to stay unconditionally.

Request to leave / Expulsion

Your non-EU spouse and (grand)children may live with you in another EU country as long as they continue to meet the conditions for residence. If they no longer do so, the national authorities may require them to leave - but they cannot be expelled.

In exceptional cases, your new country can decide to expel them on grounds of public policy or public security but only if it can prove they represent a very serious threat.

The expulsion decision or request to leave must be given to them in writing, stating all the grounds and specifying how they can appeal and by when.

Still need help?

Still need help?

Haven't found the information you need? Do you have a problem to solve?

Get advice on your EU rights

Solve problems with a public body

Footnote

In this case, the 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

Retour au texte en cours.

In this case, the 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

Retour au texte en cours.