Non-EU family members of an EU citizen: how to get a permanent residence permit?

You are a family member of an EU/EER citizen, holding a Dutch residence card with the text: “residence card for a family member of an EU citizen” (old version) or “Fam. van een burger van de Unie conf. art. 10 Richtl. 2004/38/EG” (new version). Having lived in the Netherlands for five years, you may now seek a permanent residence permit. Here's how you can proceed and what to consider:

EU Directive 2004/38:

Under this directive, non-EU family members of EU citizens can obtain permanent residence after residing in an EU country for five years. This status, termed "permanent stay" in Dutch, differs from the EU long-term stay permit granted under Directive 2003/109. We'll explore whether permanent stay is preferable to EU long-term stay.

Practical Considerations:

While obtaining permanent stay seems straightforward in theory, practical challenges may arise. Since April 2015, the Immigration and Naturalization Department (IND) not only evaluates the five-year residency but also considers continuous fulfillment of other conditions like sustainable income and health insurance. This practice, upheld by the Council of State in November 2017, requires thorough documentation submission, which may vary from other EU countries.

Maintaining Permanent Stay:

Once granted, permanent residence can be lost through absence exceeding two consecutive years. Recent court rulings emphasize the qualitative aspect of absence, complicating matters for those who frequently travel. Merely visiting family in the Netherlands may not suffice to maintain permanent stay status.

Comparison with EU Long-Term Stay:

For EU citizens, permanent stay is the only option after five years. However, non-EU family members have a choice between permanent stay and EU long-term stay. Opting for EU long-term stay offers mobility rights within the EU, enabling independent relocation to other member states. This flexibility contrasts with permanent stay, where relocation often requires accompanying the EU family member.

Considerations for Optimal Choice:

Choosing between permanent stay and EU long-term stay depends on individual circumstances and future plans. While permanent stay grants residency rights, EU long-term stay offers greater mobility and access to favorable treatment in other EU countries.

Navigating these options requires careful evaluation and consideration of long-term goals. Consulting legal experts familiar with Dutch immigration laws can provide valuable guidance in making informed decisions.

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