When a citizen of the European Union makes use of her or his right to live or work in another EU country, the limitations of the host member state’s immigration law no longer apply. It is not the interests of the host member state, but the rights of the EU citizen that count. One of an EU citizen’s strongest rights is to be able to bring the closest members of his or her family with him or her, regardless of the family members’ nationality. For the partners and other closest family members of an EU citizen to obtain legal residence, there is no actual income requirement, nor is there a civic integration requirement or a requirement to first obtain a preliminary visa in the family members’ home country.
Because the progressive Netherlands recognizes cohabiting partners as family members, partners in long-term relationships with EU citizens are also eligible for legal residence. The Dutch government tries to maintain a strict policy that only partners who have already been living with an EU citizen for six months will be recognized as partners, but this policy can be a violation of EU law with regard to partners who can prove the depth and intensity of their relationship in other ways.
After five years of legal residence, EU citizens and their family members automatically obtain a permanent residence status. Additionally, ex-partners and ex-spouses of EU citizens are eligible for a continued right of stay if the relationship or marriage lasted three years, of which one year was spent living in the Netherlands.
Dutch citizens, as well, can make use of EU law by genuinely living for a period of time in another EU country with their family members, and then returning (the “Europe route”). And very young Dutch citizens are increasingly having their right recognized (based on the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union Ruiz Zambrano, Dereci, and Alokpa) to have their parent who is not an EU citizen be allowed to stay in the Netherlands to take care of them.
Our firm has a great deal of knowledge of the relevant European directives, European case law, and a great deal of practical experience in this area. In 2015, attorney Jeremy Bierbach successfully defended his PhD dissertation Frontiers of Equality,, about EU citizenship as a legal norm of equal treatment and protection of minorities. He also delivers a lecture on EU Directive 2004/38 every year to law students in the master’s degree course “EU Migration Law: free movement of persons within the EU” at the University of Amsterdam.