What is a UK Family visa?

  • A UK Family visa is a type of visa available to foreigners who seek to join a family member in Britain for over six months.
  • Those pursing a UK Family visa can apply in one of the following categories:
    • A spouse or partner.
    • A parent.
    • A child.
    • An adult applicant who requires care from a family member.

Who is eligible?

  • The eligibility requirements for the UK family visa depend on what kind of applicant you are (parent, child, etc.).
  • All applicants, however, must meet the requirements pertaining to the following:
    • English language 
      • Applicants who do not fall into one of the below categories must demonstrate their English language speaking abilities:
        • Child applicants.
        • Adult applicants who require care from a family member.
        • Applicants aged 65+.
        • Partner or parent applicants who have lived in the country for five years on a Family visa who are now extending it.
        • Applicants who cannot fulfill the requirement due to mental or physical disabilities.
        • Applicants who are applying as nationals of Australia, Canada, Malta, New Zealand, the United States, and these majority English-speaking Caribbean states: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago.
      • If you do not fall into one of the above categories, you must meet the English language requirement through the following:
        • Receiving an acceptable score on a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
          • SELT grades are calculated to reflect the Common European Reference for Languages (CERF); for first time visa applicants, an acceptable grade is an A1. Those who receive a B1 or greater will pass provided that the specific test they took remains on the accepted English exams when they pursue settlement in five years.
          • Please note that applicants who face barriers to taking a SELT test due to COVID-19 restrictions may seek an exemption from the requirement.
          • Please note that those who pursue permanent settlement in the country 2.5 years after living there on their Family visa will likely have to achieve a greater CEFR, based on the grade they received on their first application. For example, while those who achieved levels A2—C2 should be able to submit their original test results to meet the English requirement on their settlement application so long as it remains on the accepted English exams, those who achieved level A1 must pass A2 in both listening and speaking, while those who received an exemption must achieve a minimum of an A1.
        • Having graduated/received a degree from an English language college/university (or via English-language research).
          • Applicants who show evidence of having graduated from a school in the country can submit their diploma as evidence.
          • Applicants who graduated from a school located abroad will need to acquire a certificate from Ecctis (either a visa and nationality statement or a  statement of compatibility) which will confirm that your classes were in English and that the qualification/degree you received is at the same level as a bachelor’s (or master’s, etc.) in the country.
          • Applicants who attended a school in Australia, Canada, Malta, New Zealand, the United States, or one of the majority English-speaking Caribbean states (Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago) must submit a statement of compatibility.
          • Graduates of schools not in one of the above states must submit a visa and nationality statement.
    • Income 
      • Those who are applying to join a spouse or partner and who will ultimately pursue permanent settlement in the country in five years will need to show evidence of making a minimum of £18,600 (collectively as a couple) annually.
      • Applicants who have children that lack pre-settled status, do not have permanent settlement, and who are not citizens of either Britain or Ireland must show evidence of earning an additional £3,800 (if they have one child) child and £2,400 per subsequent child.
      • Please note that applicants who have children that lack pre-settled status and do not have permanent settlement but who are EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss citizens may be exempt from the above “additional income” child requirement.
      •  Please note that applicants who do not meet the minimum income requirement (either for themselves or for their children) are sometimes granted the option of submitting savings, which they will also have to provide evidence of (the form this evidence takes will reflect the source of the income).
      • Finally, please note that the government recognizes that many would-be applicants have been financially affected (negatively) by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Those who lost their jobs or work for themselves as a result of the health crisis are encouraged to look into applying for a visa anyways.
      • In order to meet the income requirement, an applicant and his or her partner can submit the following forms of income:
        • Savings (cash) over £16,000.
        • Pre-tax income that came from a job in the UK (applicant must show evidence that they or their partner received any money earned this way for a minimum of six months).
        • Monies from self-employment (applicant must show evidence that they or their partner received any money earned this way for a minimum of six months).
        • Monies earned from being a director of a limited company in the country.
        • Pension funds.
        • Money derived from income-generating assets, like a house rental.
      • In order to show evidence of having met the income requirement, employed applicants (or those with currently employed partner) may submit the following evidence (you will learn about the specific materials you need to submit during your online application process):
        • Half a year of pay stubs.
        • Statement from your financial institution reflecting your income.
        • Written, dated, attestation of your employment from your boss (must be on official stationery). If you submit this form of evidence, it must contain the following:
          • Specific date of when you/your partner started at the company.
          • Confirmation of your/your partner’s employment.
          • Confirmation of your/your partner’s position in the company.
          • Your/your partner’s salary (pre-tax).
          • The specific nature of the contract between you/your partner and the company.
          • Confirmation that any submitted paystubs are authentic.
      • Applicants who have gone on maternity leave in the past half year, those who are having trouble articulating the nature of their income, and those who seek to integrate multiple income sources should contact us for more guidance in terms of how to provide evidence of the income requirement.
      • Parent applicants and those who receive particular benefits (such as a Carer’s allowance) who can present evidence of their ability to financially support themselves in the country in the absence of securing UK welfare can potentially settle in the country after five years without fulfilling the minimum income requirement.
    • Required documents/information 
      • You and any family members who are applying must submit the following:
        • Passport (those who are applying from abroad will need one empty page for their UK visa).
        • Scans of visa/entry stamps, and photo pages in old passports.
        • Scan of biometric permit (if applicable).
        • Tuberculosis test results (depending where you are applying from).
      • Applicants must provide the following information if it is not included in the above documents:
        • Biographical info (names, birthdate, etc.).
        • National insurance number (if applicable).
        • Nationality and birth date of your mother and father (for those applying from abroad).
        • Criminal history (if applicable).
        • Information about any old application you lodged in pursuit of UK immigration.
        • Relatives and acquaintances in the country of your birth and in foreign countries you are a national of.
        • Any foreign countries you have previously travelled to and resided in.
      • Applicants who have partners will have to provide the following documents/information for him/her:
        • Passport.
        • Biographical (name, birthdate, nationality).
        • Right to be in the country.
        • Info about your partner’s previous spouse/civil partner/anyone with whom he or she produced children.
        • For previously married partners (divorce certificate or other proof of the dissolution of their marriage.
        • People your partner aids financially (if applicable).
      • Applicants who applying for a Family visa as a partner or husband or wife should be prepared to supply “proof of relationship” information about the following:
        • Basic information about your relationship with the person you are joining in the UK, how your relationship began, the frequency with which you are together, etc.
        • The dates you’ve lived together (which you will need to present evidence of).
        • Joint financial purchases.
        • If you are the carer for your partner.
      • The following information is required for children applicants, applicants who have children, your partner’s children.
        • Biographical information (name, birthdate, nationality, etc.).
        • Passport information.
        • Person the child typically resides with.
        • People who have parental responsibilities for your child (or your partner’s child).
        • How close you are to the child (how often you see them, the nature of your relationship, etc.).
        • Visitation rights or court-ordered degree of access you have with the child (for parents who share custody of the child).
        • Relatives of the child.
        • Foreign states your child has resided in or travelled to.
  • Please note that any of the above documents/materials relating to English language, income, required documents, or information must be accompanied by an official translation into either English or Welsh if they are not already written in one of those two languages.

Who is not eligible?

  • The following types of applicant are ineligible to apply for a Family visa (or switch into the visa category):
    • Those who seek to join relatives who are on a student visa or a work visa (if your relative is on either of these visas, you may be able to apply as his or her dependent).
    • Those with a visa valid of under six months or a visitor visa (if you want to apply for a Family visa and you fall into either of the two preceding visa categories, you will likely have to exit the country and travel abroad in order to do so).
      • An applicant who currently holds a 6-month Family visa as someone who is engaged or a proposed civil partner could theoretically apply to Switch into the long-term category, as could someone who has received permission to remain in the country pending the resolution of a family legal dispute (divorce, etc).

Visa advantages

  • Most applicants can live, study, and work in the country with their family for a minimum of two years and six months, with the possibility to extend, with the ultimate potential to achieve permanent settlement.
  • Possibility to Switch into this visa category.

What is the processing time for Family visas?

  • Most applicants who apply for a Family visa from abroad will receive an approval (or  rejection) in around 12 weeks; those submitting their application from within the country should know their application status in as few as eight.
  • Applicants from within the country can take advantage of the expediated processing option for £800 (please note that this option is unavailable to adult dependent applicants requiring care from a family member).
  • Those choose the “super priority” route typically receive a response in as soon as a day after they have submitted their biometric information (for those with weekday appointments). If your appointment was instead over the weekend, you should know your results in two days.
  • The above processing timelines are typical for most applicants. However, your decision may be delayed depending on other factors, including if you are asked to give an in-person interview, if your application is incomplete, if you have a criminal history, or you fail to meet certain financial or English language requirements.
  • Please note that weekends (non—working days) are Saturday and Sunday in the UK.
  • Applicants who are approved for a Family visa typically receive their biometric residence permit within 10 (weekdays) of their having received confirmation of their approval.

Family visa fees

  • The price of the UK Family visa is determined by your application destination; those applying from within the country will pay £1,033, while those applying from abroad will pay £1,523. 
  • Every individual dependent who joins your application will be charged the above amounts, respectively, depending on where they are applying from (the UK or abroad). 
  • The price of the visa for adult dependent applicants requiring care from a family member is £3,250 for those applying from abroad (those applying from within the country will pay £1,033). 
  • Please note that these basic visa costs are not inclusive of other fees most applicants must pay, including the Healthcare surcharge (which varies depending on the applicant) and the cost of biometric information collection (£19.20). 

What can you not do on a UK Family Visa?

  • Apply to settle in the country early.
  • Apply for welfare for yourself or your family.

How to apply

  • All applicants apply online, however different types of applicants must submit different types of materials/information.
  • Submit their required documents, have their photo and fingerprints (biometric information) collected, and pay their visa costs.
  • Please note that applicants who are unable to afford their visa may complete a request for a waiver for one of the following reasons:
    • You are currently without housing and do not have enough money to obtain housing.
    • You have housing but lack funds for food and other basic necessities.
    • The money you have (and draw from employment) is so low that fulfilling the visa fee requirement would compromise the health of your child.
  • Please note that UK immigration will typically hold your documents until they have finished processing your application; if unexpectedly require any of these documents, such as your passport, you can request for them to be returned to you, however, doing so may jeopardize your visa application.

Spouse/partner applicants

  • Spouse/partner applicants who receive a UK Family visa can remain in the country for two years and nine months, (those who are engaged but not yet married when they apply can remain for just six months), with the possibility of extending that period.
  • Spouse/partner applicants who successfully apply to either extend a current Family visa or switch into the visa category can remain in the country for two years and six months.
  • Please note, if you are a spouses/partners who lodged their application for a UK Family visa prior to June 9th, 2012,you are only eligible to extend their visa in the event that you:
    • Received consent to remain in the country as a spouse/partner prior to this date.
    • You cannot apply for settlement in the country.
    • You have neither successfully applied for another visa or been rejected for another visa.
    • You meet the English language requirement.
    • Can provide evidence that you and your partner collectively make/possesses the requisite financial resources to provide for your own living costs and those of any dependents in the absence of your receipt of public funds.
  • In order to be eligible for the Family visa in the Spouses/partner category, an applicant and his or her partner need to:
    • Be at least 18 years old (applies to both the applicant and the partner).
    • Be a citizen of the UK or Ireland.
    • Be an EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss national with pre-settled status (i.e. began their residency in the UK prior to January 2021).
    • Have some form of settlement in the country (permanent residence, ILR, or settled status).
    • Have a Turkish Worker visa or a Turkish Businessperson visa.
    • Have humanitarian protection or refugee status in the country.
    • An applicant who receives a Family visa must seek to cohabitate with their partner once they receive permission to come to the country.
  • Applicants applying as spouses and partners will need to provide evidence of the following:
    • That you are currently in a marriage or a civil partnership which is recognized as legitimate under UK law.
    • That you are (and have previously) cohabited as partners for a minimum of two years prior to your applying.
    • That you are engaged to be married or intend to become civil partners no later than six months after arriving (please note that applicants whose marriage/civil service plans have been disrupted due to COVID-19 may seek an extension on the completion of this requirement or decide to apply to extend).
    • That you meet the English language requirement.
    • That you can afford to stay in the country and financially cover the costs of any dependents.
  • Applicants who fail to fulfill some or all of these requirements can theoretically apply for the visa or for an extension in the event that they:
    • Have a child in the country who:
      • Has lived there for a minimum of seven years.
      • Are a British or Irish citizen.
      • Are settled in the country to the effect that forcing them abroad would objectively be considered immoderate.
    • You present evidence that you and your partner would face legitimate and insurmountable barriers to your continued relationship and cohabitation in another country.
    • Preventing your entry into the country (or denying you the ability to extend your time there) would amount to a violation of your human rights.
  • Applicants who are applying as an intended (engaged) wife or husband, or as a civil partner are required to submit evidence that they are engaged to be married or intend to become civil partners no later than six months after arriving (please note that applicants whose marriage/civil service plans have been disrupted due to COVID-19 may seek an extension on the completion of this requirement or decide to apply to extend).
  • Please further note that not-yet married applicants who successfully receive a UK Family visa will be prohibited from working until they marry.
  • Spouse/partners can apply with their children by adding them as dependents on their application so long as your child:
    • Is not yet 18 on the date that you submit your application, or that they were when they first obtained leave.
    • Is not living independently (i.e. is still dependent on you and not married or living away from you).
  • Spouse/partners who hold a UK Family visa and have been living in the country for five years can apply to settle permanently in the country as a partner. Please note that only time accrued living in the country on a UK Family visa counts toward the five year requirement (time recorded while living in the country on another visa does not count, nor does any time you accrued while living as an unmarried/pending civil partner).

How to apply as a spouse/partner

  • Spouse/partner applicants should follow the general online application process. How you apply is determined by where you are when you do so; those applying from abroad will apply through a separate link from those applying from within the country. Contact us here to begin your application.

Parent applicants

  • Mothers and fathers who seek to reside in the country for the purpose of parenting a child may apply as a parent (however, parents who also fall into the partner/spouse category are required to apply through that route vs the parent route).
  • Parent applicants who receive a UK Family visa can remain in the country for two years and nine months. Parent applicants who successfully apply to either extend a current Family visa or switch into the visa category can remain in the country for two years and six months.
  • Please note that parent applicants who face COVID-19 related barriers to entering or remaining in the country can theoretically still apply to extend a Family visa or switch into this visa category.
  • Parents who seek this visa must have a child who is:
    • Is living in the country when you apply.
    • Is not yet 18 on the date that you submit your application, or that they were when they first obtained leave.
    • Is not living independently (i.e. is still dependent on you and not married or living away from you).
    • Falls into one of the below categories:
      • Has lived there for a minimum of seven years.
      • Is a British or Irish citizen.
      • Is an EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss national with pre-settled status—i.e. began their residency in the UK prior to January 2021 (please note, the EU Settlement Scheme and the EU Settlement Scheme family permit may be available to parents of children in this category).
      • Has some form of settlement in the country (permanent residence, ILR, or settled status) and is settled in the country to the effect that forcing them abroad would objectively be considered immoderate.
  • To be eligible to apply as a parent, a mother or father of a child must possess either shared or sole responsibility for their child.
    • To be further eligible, a mother or father who shares this responsibility cannot have as their partner the other mother/father of their child. In addition, the other parent must be one of the following:
      • A citizen of the UK or Ireland.
      • An EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss national with pre-settled status (i.e. began their residency in the UK prior to January 2021).
      • Someone who has some form of settlement in the country (permanent residence, ILR, or settled status).
    • In the event that you are applying as the parent of a child who resides with his or her father or mother or carer (i.e. not with you) then you must present evidence that you retain parental rights over this child in the form of visitation etc, as per a court order, which implies co-parenting.
  • Parent applicants must present evidence that they intend to participate in the rearing of their child and that they will maintain this level of commitment even after you receive the visa. Evidence in support of this claim could include:
    • Letter from a fellow parent describing the closeness of your relationship to your child (requires evidence of a parents identity, like a government ID, something with a signature).
    • A letter from a doctor or other medical professional attesting to the fact that you have been present at the visit.
    • Written attestation from your child’s school proving that you drop them off at school in the morning and attend parental events.
  • Parent applicants will also provide evidence that they:
    • Meet the English language requirement.
    • Can afford to stay in the country and financially cover the costs of any dependents (in the absence of securing UK welfare).
  • Applicants who cannot fulfill the above requirements relating English and finances can be exempt from them and continue to extend their permission to stay in the country in the event that their child has:
    • Lived there for a minimum of seven years.
    • Is a British or Irish citizen.
    • Is settled in the country to the effect that forcing them abroad would objectively be considered immoderate.
  • Parent applicants can apply with their children by adding them as dependents on their application so long as your child:
    • Is not yet 18 on the date that you submit your application, or that they were when they first obtained leave.
    • Is not living independently (i.e. is still dependent on you and not married or living away from you).
  • Parent applicants who hold a UK Family visa and have been living in the country for five years can apply to settle permanently in the country as a parent.
  • Please note that only time accrued living in the country on a UK Family visa counts toward the five year requirement (time recorded while living in the country on another visa does not count, nor does any time you accrued while living as an unmarried/pending civil partner).

How to apply as a parent

  • Parent applicants should follow the general online application process. How you apply is determined by where you are when you do so; those applying from abroad will apply through a separate link from those applying from within the country. Contact us here to begin your application.

Adult applicants who require care from a family member

  • You can apply for a Family visa to the UK if you are living abroad and the person you require care from is in the country.
  • In order to be eligible for the visa, you must be seeking care for a long period of time, from either a parent, sibling, grandchild, or child with permanent residency in the country.
  • The amount of time an adult applicants who requires care who receive a UK Family visa can remain in the country on that visa for is based on the residency status of the person who is providing you care. You can remain in the country:
    • For an unlimited amount of time (if the person taking care of you has achieved settlement in the country or has British or Irish citizenship.
    • However long your carer remains in the country (if the person taking care of you has achieved pre-settled status and began residing in the country prior to January 1st, 2021. In the event that they apply to extend or settle, you should do the same).
    • However long your carer remains in the country (if the person taking care of you has received humanitarian protection or refugee status in the country. In the event that they apply to extend or settle, you should do the same).
  • To be eligible for a Family visa as an adult who requires care, you must prove that your intended carer is one of the following:
    • A citizen of the UK or Ireland.
    • An EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss national with pre-settled status (i.e. began their residency in the UK prior to January 2021).
    • Has some form of settlement in the country (permanent residence, ILR, or settled status).
    • Has humanitarian protection or refugee status in the country.
  • To be further eligible for a Family visa as an adult who requires care you need to submit evidence that:
    • You are at least 18 years old.
    • You require (or will require) care over a long period of time, and that you need this level of support daily in order to complete basic living tasks that you cannot do alone either because of your advanced age, chronic illness, or disability.
    • You cannot obtain this level of care in the country in your country of residence, either because it is too expensive, or it simply does not exist (hence why you need to immigrate to the UK).
    • Your carer in the country can financially afford to aid, take care of, and house you in the absence of public funds for a minimum of five years.
  • Please note, the EU Settlement Scheme and the EU Settlement Scheme family permit may be available to Adult applicants who require care whose carers achieve settled status).

How to apply as an adult requiring care

  • Adults who require care should follow the general online application process. As previously mentioned, they must apply from abroad. Contact us here to apply as an adult dependent relative and to extend your time in the country.

Applicant who is applying on the basis of their private life

  • You can apply for a Family visa “on the basis of your private life” in the event that you provide evidence that you:
    • Are not yet 18 years old and have resided in the country for a minimum of seven years uninterrupted and are settled in the country to the effect that forcing you out would objectively be considered immoderate.
    • Are 18—24 years old and have resided in the country uninterrupted for at least half of your lifetime.
    • Are 18+ years old and have resided in the country for under 20 years but would encounter significant challenges in the state you would be forced to move to in the event that you were forced to leave the country (i.e. because you are not fluent in the native language or because of extreme cultural differences, etc).
    • You are 25+ years old and have resided uninterrupted in the country for a minimum of 20 years.

How to apply on the basis of your private life

  • The application process for those applying on the basis of their private life mirrors the general online application process. As previously mentioned, these must apply from within the country. Contact us here to apply on the basis of your personal life and to extend your time in the country. 
  • Please note that you can share an application with family members, however each applicant will be processed separately (i.e. be receive an individual application decision). 

Apply to Extend a Family Visa

  • Individuals currently in the country on a valid Family visa can apply to extend it (and therefore continue to remain with your UK-based family members).
  • Applicants can begin the extension process at their convenience, so long as they apply while they still have permission to remain in the country.
  • Applicants who are applying to extend a Family visa in order to remain in the country with the relative who they originally applied to stay with will only receive an extension for 28 days.
  • Current Family visa holders can apply for permanent settlement (see the various application categories for the category-specific requirements for permanent settlement.

Apply to Switch to a Family visa

  • Applicants who arrived in the country via an alternate immigration pathway may apply to switch into the Family visa category, so long as they seek to remain with their child, parent, or partner/spouse. 
  • Applicants can begin the switching process at their convenience, so long as they apply while they still have permission to remain in the country 
  • Please note that applicants who face COVID-19 related barriers to entering or remaining in the country can theoretically still apply to extend a Family visa or switch into this visa category. 

Other immigration avenues

  • Applicants can remain longer in the country or even achieve settlement in the event that they present evidence that:
    • Their partner died or they were a domestic violence victim.
    • They have a family member with either humanitarian protection or refugee status (in which case they might be eligible for Family reunion).
    • You or your relatives are EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss citizens Is an EU, Icelandic, Liechtensteiner, Norwegian, or Swiss national with pre-settled status—i.e. began their residency in the UK prior to January 2021 (in which case you may be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. If you are not eligible, you will likely need a family permit or a visa to immigrate to the country).

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