No civic integration obligations for family members of an EU citizen

People who hold the citizenship of an EU Member State and move to another EU Member State, can apply for family reunification on the basis of EU laws. Pursuant to the provisions of the EU Directive 2004/38, family members include spouse, registered partner, partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship, direct descendants (ie. children and grandchildren) under the age of 21, financially dependent descendants who have reached the age of 21 and financially dependent ascendants (ie. parents and (great)grandparents). Upon completion of five years of continuous residence in another EU Member State, the EU citizen and his (non-EU) family members can apply for permanent residence ("duurzaam verblijf"). This is different from the commonly known EU long term stay ("langdurig ingezetene"), in terms of the application requirements, conditions and benefits. If you or your family members reside in the Netherlands and you have the nationality of another EU Member State, or if you are a Dutch national who has been residing in another EU Member State, then this article may be helpful for you. In this article, I will explain which route can be taken when applying for a residence permit,  in light of the family members that you would like to bring to the Netherlands.


EU Permanent Residence

(Duurzaam verblijf)

EU Long Term Residence

(Langdurig ingezetene)

Legal Basis

EU Directive 2004/38

EU Directive 2003/109

Who are eligible applicants?

Citizens of an EU Member State and their family members. The EU citizen in question must have exercised his freedom of movement rights through residing and/or working in another EU Member State other than his country of nationality.

Third country nationals and their family members who possess nationalities outside the EU and are currently residing in the Netherlands for non-temporary purposes (e.g. employment visa, self-employment and family reunification).

Requirements of application (residential)

Residing in another EU Member State other than the EU citizen’s country of nationality for an uninterrupted five-year period before the application (exemptions are available for applicants who have reached pensionable age and applicants who become permanently incapable of working).

Residing in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted five-year period before the application (Please note that during the past five-year residence, the period of holding a student visa will be discounted at 50%; Other types of temporary residence may not count towards EU long term status).

Other requirements

Applicant has always been fulfilling the requirements as referred to in article 7 of the EU Directive 2004/38. For example, the applicant has always had a valid health insurance.

The sponsor must have sufficient and sustainable income for the future

The applicant has acquired the civic integration diploma (subject to exemption).

Validity of permit

10 years

5 years

Loss of residency

Absence from the host EU Member State for  two consecutive years will entail the loss of permanent residence.

Absence from the territory of the EU for 12 consecutive months, or moving to another EU Member State for six consecutive years, will entail the loss of long term stay status.

The differences in application requirements and conditions may affect your plan prior to your arrival in the Netherlands. For example, a Dutch citizen who wishes to apply for family reunification for his partner from Thailand has to pursue the Dutch national MVV route. Nevertheless, if he is currently living in another EU Member State, then the EU laws will be applicable. Under the EU laws, he can apply for family reunification for his partner. In this latter case, after his partner has been residing in the EU for 5 years, the partner will not need to pass the civic integration exam in order to get permanent residence. If a Dutch citizen does not want to apply for family reunification under the EU laws, he can rely on Dutch law. After 5 years, his family member can apply for EU long term stay status ("langdurig ingezetene") as long as the family member passes the integration exams.

The same applies to parental reunification. For instance, a French man has a Chinese wife and both of them live in the Netherlands. The Chinese wife wishes to apply for her parents in China to reunify with them in Europe. Given that the husband, a French citizen, has been exercising his freedom of movement rights in the Netherlands, the EU laws will be applicable, meaning that the parents in China can reside in the Netherlands if certain requirements are met. Upon completion of five years of residence, they can apply for permanent residence without the need of sitting the civic integration exams. With regard to the issue of parental migration, please refer to this article: How can elderly parents immigrate to the Netherlands (or the European Union)? 

If the applicant and his family will travel a lot within the European Union and may settle in particular EU Member States for a few years, it may be more favorable to apply for EU long term stay (langdurig ingezetene), given that the loss of EU long term stay status happens only when the person in question has moved to another Member State for six consecutive years. On the other hand, EU permanent residence (duurzaam verblijf) can be lost after 2 years of absence from the issuing Member State.

Contact Mynta Law

Should you have any questions about your rights to permanent residency, please feel free to send us an e-mail.