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Immigration to the European Union

Your rights and EU rules

If you’re a non-EU national looking to move to an EU country for work, study or to join a family member, you may be entitled to certain rights under EU immigration rules. The EU and EU countries share competences in this area, but it’s up to each EU country to take the final decision on individual migrant applications. In areas where no EU rules have been adopted, EU countries can also set the conditions on obtaining residence and work permits in their country.

You should always apply for a visa or residence permit directly from the authorities of the EU country you plan to move to. There’s no EU institution that handles applications or issues visas or residence permits on behalf of individual countries.

Am I eligible?

The EU’s common immigration and visa rules apply to the following individuals looking to move to an EU country for longer than 90 days:

  • highly qualified workers
  • intra-corporate transferees (non-EU nationals with a work contract in a company established outside of the EU, who are offered a role in a branch of the organisation in an EU country)
  • seasonal workers
  • researchers
  • students
  • trainees and volunteers (there are EU rules on exchange pupils and au pairs that EU countries may decide to apply in their national legislation).

If you’re from a country from outside the EU, but are staying legally in an EU country, the rules also allow you to:

  • bring family members with you
  • become a long-term resident after 5 years of residence.

These rules apply in all EU countries except Denmark and Ireland.

What category do I fit into?

Information on the categories of people covered by the rules. Rules on visas, residence permits and family members joining you by category of eligible individuals.

Thinking about immigrating to the EU?

Information about coming to work or study in the EU for more than 90 days and how to join your family. Learn about your rights and what to do if you’d like to move from one EU country to another.

Thinking about coming to study in the EU?

Information about national higher education systems, funding opportunities and visas and residence permits in EU countries covered by the Study in Europe project. Practical information to help you prepare for studying in the EU.