Moving back to Europe with American spouse – Your partner’s residence rights in the EU

It’s not uncommon that, after a while, some former European citizens working in the U.S. decide to go back to live in Europe again. The process is not hard but it will require you to get familiar with laws and regulations, especially if you have a family. Moving back to Europe with an American spouse can be a relatively easy process, but you will have to prepare well. From documentation to different laws, many procedures are generalized and quite similar. However, some may be different, depending on the country you are planning to move to.

Moving back to Europe with an American spouse

Are you a European that wants to live and work in Europe and want to bring your spouse there? If you are an EU citizen, you have guaranteed freedom of movement. This means, your spouse and your children can live work in the same country as you. In general, there are two general cases:

  • You are looking forward to living and working in an EU country different from the one you are originally from.
  • You are planning to live and work in your country of origin.

The first case is regulated by EU rules to make it easier for your spouse to join you. In the second case, national immigration rules usually apply. This is where you need to get in touch with the immigration authorities in the relevant country.

Basic structural info about EU

You need to be familiar with Schengen Zone

Depending on where you plan to live, you need to be familiar with Schengen Zone. All the laws on movement within the EU countries are regulated by this agreement. In essence, it guarantees all EU citizens the ability to live, work, and travel freely within this Schengen Area. For example, any US citizen can travel to and stay up to 90 days in this area. But, this limit won’t apply to you if you are married to an EU citizen. This is important for more reasons. First, once you get the right assistance in this undertaking and finally move to the desired location, it doesn’t have to be the end of the story. You have the freedom to easily move to another country after a while, should you decide. Second, you can travel and explore the old continent without limitations.

A map of a part of Europe with a small toy car representing traveling.
As an EU resident, you can freely travel within the Schengen Zone.

What rights Freedom of Movement act grants?

To explain this further, the freedom of movement guarantees that all EU citizens are entitled to:

  • work in another EU country without needing a work permit
  • reside in EU countries for as long as they work there
  • to stay in the same country even after employment is over
  • have equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, conditions, and other benefits

As a spouse of an EU citizen, you are entitled to the same rights. This is an excellent situation because Europe offers some amazing job opportunities. And proper career opportunities are some of the main reasons why people are moving back to Europe.

Moving preparations for moving back to Europe with American spouse

The next step is to plan how to move. Don’t leave it to the case, and start preparing everything in advance. You will definitely need help with moving your household, so start looking for it in advance. Your best choice is to find a reputable interstate moving company nearby. For example, if you are in Alabama, Park Moving company would be a logical choice.

A pile of papers and documents on a table.
Start your preparation and do all the calculations on time.

Prepare the documentation

Before moving to Europe with your American spouse, you will, generally, need passports and marriage certificates as proof of partnership. As for other documentation requirements, you should contact the appropriate embassy.¬†Regarding a marriage certificate, you need to have it accredited for use in Europe. This is a necessary part of the procedure if you are planning to use it abroad. Simply put, once you verify your document this way, it’s a valid proof of marriage in all European countries. Also, it’s a recommendation to do the same with other documents, like your birth certificate.

Prepare your budget

Such a large undertaking can significantly affect your budget, so it’s imperative to have your finance sorted out. Remember that you are starting anew at the new location, so it would be wise to have some savings on the side. Even if have a job waiting for you over there, you should have extra money, at least for the start. Also, you will need to invest in packing and moving your belongings. In most cases, your art requires special procedures and skilled help to handle. Also if you have a family heirloom you want to bring with you to Europe. All those small costs can add up, so you should be ready. As for the larger investment, there is a matter of housing. This is probably the largest investment to make, so carefully explore all potential housing options in advance.

After the move

Once you find the right home and arrive in Europe, your non-EU spouse needs to register. You should report your presence with the authorities of the host country within a reasonable time. Usually, up to 3 months after arrival. The next step is to get the residence permit. Usually, you will need to submit the next documents to the local authorities:

  • valid passport
  • your spouse’s proof of residence in that country
  • proof of your relationship – marriage certificate
  • or, proof of long-term relationship for unmarried partners

Your registration certificate should be issued shortly.

A governmental building in Europe with outstanding architecture.
You should complete your registration as soon as possible, in one of the government institutions.

Permanent residence

Your American spouse can get permanent residence as well. The main condition to acquire permanent residence in most EU countries is that you live there for 5 continuous years. You can lose this status if living out of the county for 2 consecutive years, but there are some situations where this continuity is not affected:

  • temporary absences for less than 6 months per year
  • longer absences for military service
  • more than 12 consecutive months of absence because of pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, and work.

Moving back to Europe with an American spouse should not be a hard process but it requires thorough preparations. Just like any immigration system, EU regulations can seem complex, at first. But once you complete all the research, it doesn’t look so difficult. And no matter how hard it might be until everything is over, the experience of living in Europe is definitely worth it.

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