On these pages you can find general information on what rules apply if you are a non-EU citizen already in an EU country and would like:
While immigration rules vary from country to country, these pages explain the general conditions and procedures which you can expect to find in most EU countries.|
You will also find links to reference documents and websites that provide further information, as well as information on integrating into society.
Applications for family reunification or long-term resident status must always be made to the authorities of the EU country you are already living in.
If you require more details on the rules in your EU host country, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.
BRINGING YOUR FAMILY TOGETHER|
Would you like your family to join you in the EU country where you are living?|
If you are a citizen of a country outside the EU and you are legally resident in an EU country, you may be able to apply to have your family come and live with you. This is called family reunification. If you apply for family reunification, you are called a “sponsor”.|
On these pages you will find general information on how to apply for family reunification within the EU and the rights that your close relatives may have once they are reunited with you.
This information applies in 24 of the 27 EU countries, excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
For detailed information on the rules for family reunification in a particular country, select the country on this map or complete the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.
If you are not an EU citizen but would like to join a member of your family who is an EU citizen, a different set of rules will apply to you and your relatives. Visit the Your Europe Portal for more information.
Who can apply for family reunification?
You can apply to have your family join you in the EU if you:
In some EU countries you can only apply for your family to join you after you have been living there legally for two (or in some cases three) years. If you require more details on the rules in your EU host country, select the country on this map or use the search tool.
hold a residence permit issued for a period of at least one year by an EU country, and
have so called “reasonable prospects” of staying permanently in that country. “Reasonable prospects” are defined individually by each EU country. For information on what this means in your host EU country, use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.
Which family members can join me?
The following family members can join you:
‘Minor children’ are children who are not considered adults under the laws of the sponsor’s host EU country and who are unmarried. They include adopted children.
Your husband or wife (including same-sex spouse, when same-sex marriage is recognised in the EU country where you reside). As polygamy is not recognised, you can only be joined by one spouse;
The minor children of you and your spouse;
When there are children from a previous relationship, the minor dependent children of you, or of your spouse, provided you/your spouse has custody.
Depending on the EU country in which you live, some further restrictions may apply:
Depending on the rules in your host EU country, the following family members may also be able to join you:
You and your spouse may have to be at least 21 years old ;
More restrictive rules may apply to children over the age of 12 who arrive independently of their families.
For detailed information on the family members that can join you in a particular EU country, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.
Your unmarried partner;
Your registered partner;
Your parents or the parents of your spouse;
Your adult unmarried children, or those of your spouse, who are unable to look after themselves due to the state of their health.
Are there conditions to fulfil to have my family come live with me?
You may have to prove that you can provide:
Some EU countries may also require you and/or your family members to comply with integration measures such as tests for language or about the country you are moving to.
Sufficient and regular financial support.
For detailed information on the conditions set by a particular EU country, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.
My family members have been allowed to join me. What happens next?
Your family members will be issued with residence permits in your host country, valid for at least one year and renewable. Your family members’ residence permits cannot last beyond the expiry date of your residence permit.
Do my family members need visas?
Your relatives may or may not need visas, depending on their nationalities and on the rules in the EU host country. For information on visa requirements in a particular EU country, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.
Can a family member’s permit be refused or withdrawn?
Yes. In the following circumstances, a family member’s permit can be refused or withdrawn:
Can I argue against a decision to refuse a family reunification application or to refuse or withdraw a relative’s residence permit?
Failure to fulfil the required conditions;
Family ties come to end;
False information or documents;
Any threat to public security, public policy or public health.
Yes. You will have the right to legally challenge a decision to refuse your application for family reunification or a decision to refuse or withdraw a residence permit for your family member.
What entitlements do my family members have?
Your family members will be entitled, in the same way as you, to the following:
Can my family members eventually qualify for residence permits in their own right?
Access to employment / self-employment (this may be limited for a maximum of one year);
Access to education;
Access to work-related training.
Yes. Your spouse, unmarried partner and children who have reached adulthood will be allowed to get a residence permit in their own right after no less than five years.
This personal residence permit may be limited if the spousal/partner relationship has broken down. For other relatives, different rules apply depending on the EU host country concerned.
Family members may be issued with a personal permit before five years where:
For detailed information on how to qualify for an autonomous residence permit in a particular EU country, select the country on this map.
Their sponsor has died;
They are separated or divorced from their sponsor;
They are faced with ‘particularly difficult circumstances’ such as domestic violence.
More on family reunification for relatives of non-EU citizens
Information on the different rules that apply to relatives of EU citizens
EU-wide laws on family reunification
If you have stayed legally in an EU country for five years, you may be entitled to be given a "long-term resident" status there. |
On these pages you will find general information on the conditions and procedures for becoming a long-term resident as well as the rights you will have if you get a long-term resident permit.|
These rules apply in 24 of the 27 EU countries, excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
For more information on the rules for getting long-term resident status in a particular country, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.
What is a long-term resident?
A long-term resident is a citizen from a country outside the EU who has been given long-term resident status. This status means that the person will have similar rights as EU citizens.
What conditions must I fulfil to get long-term resident status?
If you have resided legally for an uninterrupted period of five years in an EU country, you can apply to become a long-term resident.
You must demonstrate that you have:
Some EU countries may also request that you fulfil certain integration conditions, such as tests for language or about the country you are moving to.
Stable and sufficient financial resources;
You may have to show that you have accommodation suitable to receive your family.
Can I leave the host EU country during the five-year period before I fill out my application?
Yes. You can spend periods shorter than six months in a row abroad, if those periods do not add up to more than ten months in total during the necessary five-year period before you hand in your application. Such periods outside you host country will not be considered as interruptions when calculating the duration of your residence.
In some exceptional circumstances, longer periods of absence may also be treated as not interrupting your residence. Depending on national law, these could include time spent outside your host country for military service, serious illness, maternity care, research or study.
How do I apply to become a long-term resident?
You apply to the competent national authorities with the necessary documentation to prove your length of residence and the other conditions outlined above.
I have submitted my application. What happens next?
If your application is successful you will be granted long-term resident status and issued with a long-term resident’s permit. In general, you should be informed of the decision within six months of sending in your application.
How long can I stay?
Your long-term resident status does not have any fixed end. As regards your residence permit, it will be valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable on expiry.
Can my application be refused?
Yes. Countries can refuse to grant you long-term resident status if you do not fulfil the necessary conditions or if you represent a threat to public policy or public security.
Under what circumstances could I lose my long-term resident status?
You could lose your status if:
The competent national authorities will inform you of their decision to refuse or withdraw your long-term residence status and will give reasons for their decision.
Your application was based on false information or documents;
You represent a serious threat to public security or public policy;
You have been absent from EU territory for more than 12 months in a row;
You have become a long-term resident in another EU country.
May I argue against a decision to refuse or withdraw my long-term resident status?
Yes. You will have the right to legally challenge a decision to refuse your application for long-term resident status or a decision to refuse or withdraw your long term resident’s permit.
What rights would I get as a long-term resident?
As a long-term resident you have the right to be treated equally with the citizens of the host EU country in the following areas:
As a long-term resident in one EU country, can I live and work in a second EU country?
Access to employment and self-employment (this may not apply for some activities which are only for nationals or EU citizens, such as access to some positions in the public administration);
Conditions of employment and work;
Education and work-related training, including study grants;
Recognition of diplomas and qualifications;
Social protection, social assistance and social security as defined by national law (EU countries can limit this to basic benefits only, such as the minimum income);
Access to goods and services (e.g. transport, museums, restaurants, etc.);
Freedom of association and trade union membership;
Free access to the entire territory of the EU host country.
Yes. You can stay in a second EU country for more than three months for purposes including work, study or training, if you apply for and are granted a residence permit in this second country.
To obtain a residence permit for a second EU country, you may have to show that you have one or more of the following:
You may also be required to comply with integration measures such as language requirements.
Stable and regular financial resources to maintain yourself and your family;
Sufficient health insurance;
If you wish to take up a job, evidence of employment;
If you are self-employed, evidence that you have sufficient financial funds;
If you wish to study or train, proof that you are registered to do so.
The second EU country may set a quota on the number of residence permits it issues. This could mean that your application may be refused if this quota has been met, even if you fulfil the appropriate conditions. The second EU country can also examine the labour market situation before allowing you to work, giving preference to persons already staying there legally.
Will I have any rights in the second EU country?
Yes. Once you get a residence permit for the second country, you are entitled to equal treatment with citizens of that country. Some restrictions as regards access to labour market can be applied for one year. You can also bring your family members with you if the family was already joined together in the first country.
Further information on long-term resident status
EU laws on long-term residents
MOVING BETWEEN EU COUNTRIES|
If you are a non-EU citizen already staying in one EU country, you may be able to travel to another EU country. This applies to any kind of stay.
The rules that apply to enter or stay in another EU country will depend on what type of visa or residence permit you have, how much time you plan to spend in the other EU country and the rules that apply there.
Read more about: |
Moving between EU countries during my short-term visit – less than three months|
If you have entered an EU country with a Schengen visa, you can travel throughout the Schengen area for as long as your visa is valid, and for a maximum of three months during a six-month period. You will not need a separate visa for each Schengen area country and you will not need to show your passport at each internal border.
The borderless Schengen area includes 22 EU countries, excluding Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK. If you wish to travel to one of these five countries for a short stay (less than three months), you must get a separate national visa. If you wish to travel from one of these five countries to the Schengen area, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa. Select the EU country of interest on this map for more information.
Moving between EU countries during my long-term stay – more than three months
When you stay in an EU country for a long stay, usually for more than three months, you will generally be issued with a national long-stay visa and/or a residence permit.
If your long-stay visa or permit has been issued by a Schengen area country, you can travel to another Schengen area country for three months per six-month period. You must:
You can also pass through other Schengen area countries on the way to your host country.
justify the purpose of your stay;
have sufficient financial resources for your stay and return;
not be considered a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
To move from one Schengen area country to another for more than three months, you will need a long-term visa and/or a permit for that country. If you wish to work, study or join your family in the second country, you may have to fulfil more national conditions. To travel to a country that is not in the borderless Schengen area, you must get a separate national visa and meet all the necessary conditions.
For information on the rules that apply in a particular EU country, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.
Rules for certain categories of non-EU residence permit holders
Certain categories of non-EU residence permit holders, and their family members, may be able to move more easily from their host EU country to another EU country, where both countries have adopted applicable EU rules.
students who hold the necessary residence permits may also be able to travel to another EU country under certain conditions.
More information on visa requirements
More information on specific categories of non-EU residence permit holders
EU-wide rules on visas
EU-wide rules on the Schengen Border
INTEGRATING IN SOCIETY|
Non-EU citizens living legally in any EU country have a set of rights and obligations that should be respected. EU countries have different ways to help migrants integrate to their local societies, and the EU is doing its part to coordinate and make it easier for EU countries to share their experiences in order to improve integration of migrants all over Europe. The Common Basic Principles for the integration of non-EU citizens guide EU countries in their development of integration actions.
The European Web Site on Integration helps improve integration policies and practices in the EU. The website shares successful strategies and highlights and supports cooperation among EU countries. This website also provides information on the European Integration Forum, an EU-wide consultative assembly set up in 2009 to allow representatives of civil society organisations to give their input on EU integration policies.
The EU finances activities in the area of integration through the European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals, with a budget of 825 million euro for the years 2007-2013. Most of this funding (93%) is for policies and activities which are implemented in individual EU countries. The rest (7%) is for transnational or EU-wide actions.
The EU Web Site on Integration
More on EU-wide integration measures
More on EU integration funding