The US nonimmigrant visa application form contains the following question:

Are you a permanent resident of a country/region other than your country/region of origin (nationality) indicated above?

( ) Yes ( ) No

The accompanying help message provides the following explanation:

Help: Permanent Resident

Permanent resident means any individual who has been legally granted by a country/region permission to live and work without time limitation in that country/region.

How should this question be answered by a non-EEA citizen who lives and works indefinitely in the EEA as the spouse of an EEA citizen who also lives and works there? Such people are not usually considered "permanent residents" under local law, since their right to live and work is contingent on their spouse's residence. But at the same time, this right is indeed technically "without time limitation". Since the limitation is tied to their spouse and not to a particular period of time, is it OK to answer "Yes" to this question?

  • Family members do not have unlimited right to settle. Their residence permits expire, and they must apply for renewals and meet necessary conditions each time. On the other hand, anyone with permanent residence in an EU country gets a card which expires, but their right to remain does not.
    – Ozzy
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 18:24
  • 3
    @Ozzy family members of EU citizens do not receive residence permits but residence "cards," the very purpose of the name being to underscore the fact that they are living in the country as a matter of right -- they do not require "permission." (And in fact after five years they acquire a right of "permanent residence," so this question is only relevant to the the first five years.)
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 21:23
  • @phoog Ahhh I see I've misunderstood. I was commenting on the family member residence permits for third country citizens who live in the country of their spouse/partner's citizenship. Which is (at least in Austria) a residence permit, while for non-Austrian EU citizen's spouse/partner gets a residence card. My bad!
    – Ozzy
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


The US definition of "permanent resident" is somewhat unclear, but it's safest to assume that it means "holds permanent residence under EU law". If you live in the EU as a family member of a union citizen and hold a residence card you would be subject to the provisions of EU Directive 2004/38EC. Article 16 states:

  1. Union citizens who have resided legally for a continuous period of five years in the host Member State shall have the right of permanent residence there. This right shall not be subject to the conditions provided for in Chapter III.
  2. Paragraph 1 shall apply also to family members who are not nationals of a Member State and have legally resided with the Union citizen in the host Member State for a continuous period of five years.

Therefore, I would only answer "Yes" if you have lived in the EU with a family member with sufficient means of subsistence and health insurance for more than 5 years.

Note that this right applies even if you have not applied for a permanent residence card, though proving it can be complicated.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .