At the same timeYour Council of European EU service answering questions about the rights of people moving across the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein reports that non-EU citizens have been the largest group seeking help last year, in the EU as a whole .
Your European advice is provided by legal experts from the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), who respond in all EU languages on everything related to the exercise of transnational rights, from registering a car in another EU country to recognizing professional qualifications.
Many of the inquiries come from family members to EU citizens outside the EU. “As a rule, their questions are related to entry and residence rights,” said Claire Damilano, ECAS senior legal manager, presenting the data at an online event.
Family members of EU citizens should be able to obtain visas to the EU free of charge and through an expedited procedure that only requires proof of family ties. However, the inquiries that Your Europe Advice has received show that people are sometimes asked to provide additional documents, such as documentation of accommodation, sufficient resources or invitation letters.
Spouses, children and dependent parents of EU citizens also have the right to move to other EU countries with them. But, for example, the advisory service received a complaint from a US citizen who accompanied her Dutch husband to Greece, who was denied registration because she was asked to provide an independent reason to be in the country.
In some member states, ‘there is a general lack of information on the right of residence for family members’, and people face ‘many bureaucratic obstacles’, Damilano told Dutch News.
“These include having to prove a lasting relationship for which no definition has been given, or” legalizing “marriage certificates to get a residence card,” she said. Applicants for residence permits may also need to prove that they have adequate resources, face language requirements or leave their passports with national authorities until the residence card is issued, she said.
“Rejections, excessive delays and unnecessary documentation continue to be reported even when they meet the conditions of permanent residence,” Damilano said.
In the Netherlands, Damilano said, most of the reported problems for non-EU citizens are related to access to the right of residence.
“One of the most recurring examples is that the Dutch councils refuse to register EU citizens and their family members if they do not have a lease or purchase contract for their home and a birth certificate,” she said.
“This has serious consequences for access to certain rights such as social security,” she added.
Overall, 6% of the inquiries received by Your Europe Advice were about the Netherlands, the largest number after Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
Most inquiries were about social security, Damilano said. “This is the most common problem for anyone moving from one country to another in the EU, regardless of their nationality and regardless of their country of destination, residence rights and entry rights,” she said.
Non-EU citizens without an EU family can obtain rights equivalent to free movement in the EU if they acquire permanent residents of the EU status.
This status can be obtained if they have lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, they have not been away for more than six consecutive months and 10 months in the whole period, and they can prove that they have ‘stable and regular financial resources to support themselves and their families and health insurance
According to these rules, non-EU citizens should be treated on an equal footing with EU citizens and have certain rights of free movement.
However, an analysis by the European Commission has shown that only a few long-term residents have exercised the right to move to other EU countries. Procedures for obtaining EU long-term residence status and residence permits in other EU countries are still complex and national administrations often lack knowledge or do not communicate with each other.
However, the European Commission is expected to propose a revision of these rules by the end of April.
Nearly 24 million people from non-EU countries live within the bloc.
In the Netherlands, non-EU citizens account for 3.2% of the population, a smaller proportion than EU 5.3%, according to the European Statistical Office Eurostat. This figure now includes 48,800 British nationals, the third largest group after Turkish and Syrian nationals.
The article is published in collaboration with Europa Street Newsa news medium on citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.
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