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Retained Right of Residence

Unfortunately, relationships can break down. If you are the spouse or civil partner of an EEA national living in the UK, you may be eligible for a retained right of residence if your relationship ends or your partner is now deceased. Your life in the UK does not need to come to an end.

At RLegal we have over 30 years experience which we can draw upon to ensure that your application is successful. Working together, we will guide you through the evidential requirements and assist you from start to finish with your application.

To qualify for retained residence you must be a the spouse or civil partner of an EEA national who has been economically active in the UK for at least 1 year, a full breakdown of the law is provided below.

If you hold retained residence, you can apply for permanent residence after a total of 5 years in the UK, including time spent on an EEA Family Permit or EEA Residence Card.

For an appraisal of your options, please contact us on +44 (0) 20 7038 3980 where you can talk to one of our team, email us at or complete our online enquiry form.

Alternatively click on the links below for frequently asked questions.

A non-EEA national wishing to retain a right of residence in the UK on the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership must show that:


- they have been married or in a civil partnership with an EEA national for 3 years;

- they have cohabited in the UK for at least 1 year;

- the EEA national has been economically active;

- on the date of Decree Absolute (divorce) or Dissolution both parties were in the UK; and

- the applicant was exercising Treaty rights.


It is possible to exercise Treaty rights through:


- employment;

- self-employment;

- study*;

- self-sufficiency*.


* Individuals who exercise Treaty rights in the UK on the basis of study or self-sufficiency must hold comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the United Kingdom which covers themselves and any dependants.

An application is made to the Home Office via the postal system. The process involves submission of an application with specified evidence. Processing times vary but are typically between 3-6 months.

– £65 per applicant

A non-EEA national with retained residence will be deemed to hold permanent residence after 5 years in the UK provided that they remain economically active in exercise of a Treaty right.


Time spent on an EEA Family Permit or EEA Residence Card can be amalgamated with time spent on Retained Residence when calculating the 5 years period.


Although you are not obliged to lodge an application, if you wish to have proof of your permanent residence (for example, for an employer) you will need to make an application to the Home Office. To read more, please follow the link.

– Comprehensive legal advice.


- Ensuring your application meets the legal requirements.


- Assistance with compiling the complex evidence required for this category.


- Completion and submission of all forms.


- Ongoing liaison with the authorities where possible.


If you would like to discuss your application for retained right of residence in more detail, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, email us at or use our online enquiry form.

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