Applications made under the Surinder Singh provisions of Appendix EU (Family Permit), which forms part of provisions implemented following Brexit to protect the rights of European nationals and their family members, will no longer be accepted after 11pm on 29 March 2022.

These provisions enable the non-EEA family member of a British citizen, who have worked and established their home in an EU member states other than the UK, to apply for a Family Permit to enter the UK. They can then apply for leave to remain/pre-settled status once in the UK. These provisions enabled qualifying family members to secure entry clearance and leave to remain without needing to meet the stricter requirements of the standard Immigration Rules for family members, which include a financial and English language requirement.

Surinder Singh Explained

The Surinder Singh immigration route was established under EU law in 1992 following a legal battle between Mr Singh, an Indian national married to a British Citizen, and the Home Office.

As a married couple, Mr Singh and his wife exercised their EU Treaty rights by moving to Germany to live and work. Following their return to the UK and subsequent divorce, it was argued on behalf of Mr Singh that as he had previously exercised free movement rights, he was entitled to remain in the UK under EU law, as it stood at the time.

The European Court of Justice found in Mr Singh’s favour, and held that British Citizens who worked and lived in other EU countries could benefit from EU free movement rights, and freely bring their non-EEA family members back to the UK with them.

Surinder Singh following Brexit

Following Brexit, free movement rights for EU nationals and their family members were brought to an end, including for Surinder Singh applicants. The UK Government introduced a set of Rules within Appendix EU (Family Permit) and Appendix EU, forming the EU Family Permit and EU Settlement Scheme, which enabled qualifying European nationals and their family members to continue to secure rights to move to and live in the UK.

It was a surprise to many practitioners that the Surinder Singh route was included in Appendix EU (Family Permit) rules, as it was far from popular with the Home Office. The new Rules stemmed from the provisions within the Withdrawal Agreement which provided for Surinder Singh applications to continue to be considered for a time limited period. This time limit will expire on 29 March 2022.

What next? 

After the Surinder Singh route closes, all family members of British citizens regardless of nationality (save for Irish citizens), wishing to enter the UK to join their British family member, who have not already secured permission to enter and/or remain, will be required to apply for permission to enter and remain in the UK under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. This is a far less generous visa route which only permits married or unmarried partners and children under the age of 18 to apply. It also requires financial and English language requirements to be met thereby making it more difficult for family members who would otherwise have been eligible to join their family in the UK.