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I have been living in Cyprus for two years with my boyfriend. I am South African and he is British. We will be getting married in Cyprus this month

  • Once married will I be able to travel freely within Europe or will I still have to apply for a visa as a third country national?

I know people are asking similar question but the information provided is not very straight forward. I would really love some clarification on what I may need to apply for or do!

  • 1
    Will you continue living in Cyprus? – Revetahw Sep 9 '16 at 11:27
  • Would Brexit not impact this? – Kheldar Sep 9 '16 at 15:25
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    @Kheldar The UK is still in the EU. Nothing has changed, although it might in the future. Presantha, is your husband a British serviceman and will you be marrying on the Sovereign Base Area? (SBA may count as Britain, and is an additional complication if it applies) – Andrew Leach Sep 9 '16 at 15:27
  • @Kheldar The referendum has zero value, only triggering the article 50 would start the exiting process which takes at least 2 years, and thus 1 month from now we can be sure that the UK will still be in the EU. – Bakuriu Sep 9 '16 at 18:18
  • @Bakuriu whilst I completely agree with you about the effect of the referendum on the current relationship between UK and EU law (ie, no effect), you may wish to note that once Article 50 is triggered, exit takes at most two years, not at least. If the withdrawal agreement is not in place by the two year mark, the UK is out of the EU anyway, and falls back on WTO rules for trade. Art. 50 further provides that exit can happen sooner after triggering if the withdrawal agreement is in place and in effect. I further agree this is not likely within the month. – MadHatter Sep 10 '16 at 5:45
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The rules are quite complicated, let's unpack this:

  • As the spouse of an EU citizen residing elsewhere in the world (say if you would move to South Africa or anywhere else), you might still need a visa (depending on citizenship) but if you are travelling with your husband that visa should be issued quickly and free of charge by all EU and associated countries (that's the Schengen area but also Ireland, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia) except his country of citizenship (so the UK might require you to get another, more onerous, visa even though it does offer the EEA family permit for spouses of other EU citizens).

    If you are not travelling with your husband, in theory you need a regular visa (i.e. you have to pay the visa fees and provide a lot more evidence about your finances, etc.)

  • As the spouse of an EU citizen residing in another EU country than his country of citizenship (e.g. if you reside in Cyprus or France or Germany but not in the UK), you should get a residence card as “family member of an EU citizen”. With that card, you can travel together visa-free to any EU and associated country (again that's the Schengen area but also Ireland, etc. and the UK) A court case recently confirmed that this does apply to your husband's country of origin so you could go to the UK together without a visa.

    I don't know what your status currently is but, once you are married, it's probably beneficial to apply for this card from the Cyprus authorities as it entails a number of rights like this one. If you don't do that, you are in the first situation (you need a visa, but it should be quick and free of charge).

  • As the spouse of an EU citizen residing in the Schengen area (or, indeed, as a resident in the Schengen area even without being part of the family of an EU citizen), you could travel visa-free to the rest of the Schengen area. The distinction is subtle but that right does not derive from your husband's freedom of movement rights so it applies even if you travel alone. But of course only if you live in the Schengen area (so for example if the two of you would move to Greece or France or Italy). It does not apply to holders of a Cyprus residence permit, because the country cannot join the Schengen area because of the separation of the island.

  • Wow, I haven't seen this question when posting mine. What a coincidence. But mine is still slightly different, even if closely related. – Szabolcs Sep 9 '16 at 12:54
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    "that visa should be issued quickly and free of charge" ← That's correct. Yet in practice they may still charge you for the visa and you may decide that things will go faster and with less trouble if you just pay rather than keep arguing. Speaking from personal experience. Applied for a visa to two EU countries, one Schengen and one not. The latter charged us. – Szabolcs Sep 9 '16 at 12:58
  • @Szabolcs All the info is really on the europa.eu page, it's only that it's quite difficult to parse. The original sources are the freedom of movement directive 2004/38/EC, especially article 5(2) and the Schengen Borders code, Regulation (EU) 2016/399, especially article 6(1)(b). – Relaxed Sep 9 '16 at 13:12
  • @Szabolcs That's sad but that's not the first case I hear about :( The UK famously resisted granting visa-free travel to article 10 residence card holders for a decade until it was forced to do it by a court case. – Relaxed Sep 9 '16 at 13:17
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    @Szabolcs Here is the press release from the EUCJ. It should be safe to enter now if you follow their instructions scrupulously, the UK is traditionally reluctant with all this but they are very efficient at implementing things when they have no choice and do not ignore court decisions. – Relaxed Sep 9 '16 at 13:23
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There are two options for you:

  • As a resident in an EU country who is married to a citizen from another EU country (e.g. as a Cryprus resident married to a Brit) you can get a residence card which explicitly mentions that you're a family member of an EU citizen. With this card, you need no visa.
  • As a family member of an EU citizen, there is a simplified process for your visa application. This means you still need a visa, but it is easier to get.

Either way, your travel rights apply if you travel with your husband.

  • @Fiksdal It does not, the website you mention has several bullet points (admittedly that's not very visible given the length of the text). o.m answer covers the second bullet point and the second subtitle (Applying for a visa). Your covers the first bullet point. If the OP had a residence permit from a Schengen country (not the case because she lives in Cyprus), she could travel visa free right now, even without accompanying or joining her husband (i.e. based on that residence permit, not on her husband's freedom of movement rights). – Relaxed Sep 9 '16 at 12:25
  • Once she is married, her husband's freedom of movement rights will cover her, which means that she can either travel visa-free to the whole EU with a residence card for family member of an EU citizen (also called article 10 residence card after the article in the freedom of movement directive that mentions this) or at least apply for a visa quickly and free of charge when accompanying or joining her husband. – Relaxed Sep 9 '16 at 12:31
  • It does not matter what the residence card shows, as soon as it is issued in one of Schengen states, the residence permit holder can travel to any other Schengen state. For all other countries, the passport rules apply, not the residence card. UK would be covered by the Article 10 permit as mentioned in the top answer. – Alexey Zimarev Sep 9 '16 at 13:41
  • @AlexeyZimarev but because they reside in Cyprus, the residence card will not be issued by a Schengen state. – phoog Sep 9 '16 at 15:18

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