How quickly must an EEA Family application be processed?

How quickly must an EEA Family Permit be processed?

These are the instructions for UKBA staff concerning the processing times of EEA Family Permit applications (valid as at 10 August 2012):


“Priority must be given to applications for EEA family permits. Wherever possible a decision should be made at the time it is lodged or after an interview is conducted.

However, the Regulations do not say that EEA family permits must be issued on the day that the application is made. The Directive does allow Member States to take reasonable measures to ensure that freedom of movement is not obtained by deception. Where you (= the Entry Clearance Officer) suspect a marriage of convenience or even ‘sham’ employment for the purpose of freedom of movement, further enquiries should be made and credibility may be tested. As long as delays are justifiable, applications can be tested until the ECO is fully satisfied.”


You will note that apart from the indication that “priority must be given to EEA Family Permit applications”  and “as long as delays are justifiable, applications can be tested until the ECO is fully satisfied”, no specific time frame is given. However, the European Commission Guidance for better transposition and application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States offers clearer guidance:

Article 2.2.1 of the EC Guidance:


2.2.1. Entry visas
As provided in Article 5(2), Member States may require third country family members
moving with or joining an EU citizen to whom the Directive applies to have an entry visa.
Such family members have not only the right to enter the territory of the Member State, but also the right to obtain an entry visa. This distinguishes them from other third country nationals, who have no such right.
Third country family members should be issued as soon as possible and on the basis of an
accelerated procedure with a free of charge short-term entry visa. By analogy with Article 23 of the Visa Code19 the Commission considers that delays of more than four weeks are not reasonable. The authorities of the Member States should guide the family members as to the type of visa they should apply for, and they cannot require them to apply for long-term, residence or family reunification visas. Member States must grant such family members every facility to obtain the necessary visas. Member States may use premium call lines or services of an external company to set up an appointment but must offer the possibility of direct access to the consulate to third country family members.


From this it follows that, as a rule, EEA Family Permit applications should be processed in less than 4 weeks. Delays of more than 4 weeks are considered to be unreasonable by the European Commission. This does not of course mean that your application will be processed within 4 weeks. The EC Guideline does, however, give you sufficient grounds to submit a service complaint to UKBA if your processing time exceeds 4 weeks. If you wish to do so, you could consider writing to: UKBACustomerComplaints[at] (Please replace [at] with @)

To find out the most recent processing times for EEA Family Permit applications at your application centre, please visit UKBA’s Processing Times page. You will find this page here (this link will open in a new window). If you enter the place where you submitted or wish to submit your application, it will tell you the average processing time for your visa application centre.

Remember, immigration law is complex and subject to continuous change. The information provided here may be out of date, or just based on personal experience/knowledge. The use of these pages is therefore entirely at your own risk. Before applying for any type of visas, you should always seek information from the authorities direct via their official websites. You will find some useful website details on our Links page.

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