Retained Rights of Residence

The Rights of family members of EU citizens when a relationship ends

The post-Brexit EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens includes people who previously had the right to live in the UK because they had a close family relationship with an EU citizen but have now lost that relationship. This might have happened because the family member has died, left the UK, or the relationship has broken down. This is called the ‘retained rights of residence’.

For example, you might be in the UK as the non-EU partner of an EU citizen, but your relationship breaks down, and you end up divorcing. You may have retained rights to stay in the UK.

Different rules apply depending on whether the EU citizen has died, left the UK, or the relationship has broken down. 

Who has retained rights?

Retained rights can be claimed by partners, children, parents and grandparents. You must have lived in the UK with your family member before they died, left the UK, or the relationship broke down. You may have ‘retained the right of residence if:

  • Your eligible family member died
  • You’re their child, they died or left the UK, and you are in education in the UK
  • You’ve had a child with them, they died or left the UK, and the child is in education in the UK
  • They divorced you or a member of your family
  • The relationship has broken down permanently because of domestic violence or abuse

Who are eligible family members?

To give you the right to live in the UK, your family member needed to have been one of the following:

  • A citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • A British citizen who was living with you in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein by 31 December 2020
rights of residence

If your family member has died

  • You can apply if you lived continuously in the UK as a family member for at least one year immediately before their death.


  • You lived in the UK as their family member immediately before their death
  • They were living in the UK as a worker or self-employed person at the time of their death
  • They had been living in the UK for at least two years immediately before their death
  • If they died due to an accident at work or occupational disease, they do not have to have been living in the UK for at least two years immediately before their death.

If you’re in education in the UK

You can apply if you’re in education in the UK and your eligible family member is your:

  • A parent who has left the UK or died
  • Parent’s spouse or civil partner who has left the UK or died
  • You must also show that you were in education in the UK immediately before your eligible family member died or left the UK. You must still be in education in the UK.

If you qualify through these circumstances, your parent may also be eligible if you live with them.

If you or a member of your family was previously married or in a civil partnership

You can apply if you no longer have an eligible family member after the marriage or civil partnership ended with a divorce, annulment or dissolution.

  • You must have lived in the UK when the marriage or civil partnership ended.

One of the following must also apply:

  • The marriage or civil partnership lasted for at least three years, and the couple had both been living in the UK for at least one year during that time
  • You have custody of your previous family member’s child
  • You have been given right of access in the UK to your previous family member’s child, and the child is under 18
  • You or another family member have experienced challenging circumstances - for example, as the victim of domestic violence or abuse in the marriage or civil partnership

You can also apply if a family member had an eligible marriage or civil partnership and you lived in the UK when it ended. You must be their:

  • Child or grandchild under 21
  • Dependent child or grandchild over 21
  • Dependent parent or grandparent

If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse

You can apply if your relationship with an eligible family member has broken down permanently because of domestic violence or abuse while you were in the UK. 

If you think you might have retained rights of residence

The law is complex, but if you find yourself in one of the situations above, it is worth taking advice to see if you can stay in the UK after your circumstances change.

Please contact a member of our team today if you would like to discuss this or any other immigration concerns.

  • We couldn't praise Sallie and her team high enough. Extremely professional and acted very fast to meet our deadline. 100% recommended!
    Mr E
  • Always thorough and highly professional throughout the application process for both my children, and I would definitely recommend! They also had a welcome sense of humour when it came to dealing with the bureaucracy involved in the process.
    Mr B
  • Great experience working with Sallie. Professional and understanding! Will work with her again, with no doubt.
    Ms L
  • We have been very impressed with the service we have received over the years of dealing with Angela. She went above and beyond to solve our specialised problem with very pleasing results. We would strongly recommend her work and knowledge in the field. A true professional.
    Mr Aldalis
  • I highly recommend Sallie for her professionalism and lovable, kind approach. I am very happy to get her as my immigration lawyer for processing my kids Visa.
    Shiva K
  • I highly recommend both Angela and Karen. They both have been amazingly helpful throughout the visa application process of my wife. They do truly care for their clients. They look at the case in reasonable time periods and return with any missing information rapidly. Consulting them during this exciting yet stressful process was the best decision that I made. Today my wife got granted the visa just after 5 weeks of her biometric scans.
    Mr Yazici
  • They are so honest and professional . Clear answers and guidance to all my questions 👍👍. Thanks a lot .
    Mr Khalil
  • Just received a decision from the Home office that I would’ve NEVER thought was possible. So happy and over the moon! I would definitely recommend your services to friends & family if required in the future. Huge thanks to Sallie and the team, best immigration solicitor in the business!!
    Mr Bamba
  • Angela Cole is a wonderful, hardworking, honest, kind and reliable Solicitor. Her work is very high standard, very professional and her team is friendly. Me and my husband have no hesitation in recommending Angela Cole's excellent services.
    Ms Small
  • "Simply a team of experienced people who gave us excellent and honest advice. Having now taken an appeal through to a successful conclusion for the (very reasonable) price promised, I have no hesitation in recommending this firm."
    Jon Chrimes - Google Review
  • "The team went an extra mile and fought my case much more and much better than I would have expected. In the end, my case was successful and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done. If I ever need legal help in the future I will definitely use their services again and recommend them for their reasonable prices, supportive advice and first rate legal services."
    ANONYMOUS - Google Review
  • "Excellent people, excellent service. They made the process of bringing my husband to the UK painless. Couldn’t have done it without them, highly recommend!"
    Lindy Pine - Google Review
  • "I am ecstatic, thanks to you all. My life is complete now and anything else is a bonus. Even if it seemed impossible I knew we were going to win this and that is why I never gave up. Thank you for your work, support and encouragement."
    MRS. Last
  • A BIG THANK YOU , for your help in helping me acquire my British settlement and British citizenship application successfully done. Your professionalism and kind warm attitude and nature made this process very easy and stress free. You took all my concerns away. 

    My Lawyer, Sallie Davies, is very knowledgeable and competent and I have implicit trust in her. The fees are also reasonable compared to other law firms. I highly recommend Sallie and her team.
    MRS. H
  • Thanks to Sallie, my wife is finally in the UK after a horrible year and long delays with Home Office. Highly recommended Immigration Legal Services! 
    MR. B
  • Angela Cole and everyone at Immigration Legal Services will work to produce the best outcome for you and, from our experience, they only concern themselves with your goal and not your wallet. Immigration Legal Services' charge was a very good price for all the help and security they provided
    MR. C
  • Despite the high professionalism practiced within the firm, there is always a strong sense of compassion , and care, from both Angela, and lovely Karen, which has really helped to set our minds at ease. Absolutely recommended & Eternally grateful
    Ms. f
  • I would like to thank both of you, Sallie and Karen for your assistance in the way you handled my wife's Spouse Visa Extension to remain here with me in the United Kingdom. We will recommend The Immigration Legal Services here in Ipswich to anybody who wants to apply for a visa to come or remain here in the United Kingdom because the service they provided proved to be most reliable, simple and quick process. Much appreciated Sallie and Karen. Thanking you once again. We will be back again.
  • Excellent service, Sallie is very professional and lovely. Thanks to you what we thought it will be a long and exhausting experience, was so smooth and fast we couldn't believe it. Thank you very much.
    Mrs T
  • We engaged this firm based on a recommendation made by a friend who had used their services before. We required their assistance for my wife's first renewal of her spousal visa. The process was quite painless, they got in touch to collect documents and go over details but most communication was done by email. We received the renewal without any issues.
  • Sallie was the best solicitor I've met for immigration matters. She was straight to the job, focused on the matter and had an excellent transparent work process, a reasonable fee and no hidden charges. She is very helpful, confident and had the best communication. We got our parents' visa in one go! Thank you very much for the excellent job.
Let us help you
Take a look at our services and get in touch with us today for more information.
Contact us today
© 2020 Immigration Legal Services. All rights reserved.

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram