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Appendix FM & UK Family Visa Applications

Appendix FM is an extensive document setting out the rules and requirements for individuals to be able to come to the UK by reason of their family life.

Who does Appendix FM apply to?

Appendix FM of the UK Immigration Rules applies to nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland applying to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family life.

It sets out the legal requirements that applicants must meet to be eligible.

It also acts as guidance for the Home Office to ensure a balance between right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the following four factors:

  • The legitimate aims of protecting national security, public safety and the economic wellbeing of the UK
  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The protection of health or morals
  • The protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

If you are a non-EEA national, under Appendix FM you can only apply for a family-based visa if you are related to or in a relationship with either:

  • A British citizen, or
  • A person settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain, or
  • A person in the UK with limited leave as a refugee or someone granted humanitarian protection.

The specific rules relating to eligibility vary depending on the nature of your relationship to the family member in the UK. Typically, you can only apply on the basis of family life as the spouse, partner, child, parent or dependent adult relative of that person. These relationships are examined in more detail below.

What are the requirements for spouses and partners?

If you are applying for a family visa as the partner of a person living in the UK, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • You and your partner must both be aged over 18
  • Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
  • Any previous relationship of you or your partner must have broken down permanently
  • If you are married, or in a civil partnership, it must be a valid marriage or civil partnership
  • If you are a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, you must be seeking entry to the UK to enable your marriage or civil partnership to take place
  • You must intend to live together permanently in the UK.

For the purposes of Appendix FM “partner” means:

  • The applicant’s spouse or civil partner
  • The applicant’s fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or
  • A person who has been living together with the applicant in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of the visa application.

As such, this includes unmarried partners, subject to the two-year requirement, as well as same-sex partners.

What are the requirements for children?

If you are applying for a family visa as the child of someone living in the UK, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • You must be under the age of 18 at the date of application
  • You must not be married or in a civil partnership
  • You must not have formed an independent family unit
  • You must not be leading an independent life.

Further, one of your parents must be in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain, or be being granted, or have been granted, entry clearance, as a partner or a parent under a family visa.

What are the requirements for parents?

If you are applying for a family visa as the parent of a child living in the UK, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • You must be aged 18 years or over
  • Your child must be under the age of 18 years at the date of application
  • Your child must be living in the UK
  • Your child must be either a British Citizen or settled in the UK, or, where you are applying for leave to remain, the child has lived in the UK for at least seven years immediately preceding the date of application.

You must either have sole parental responsibility for the child or the child normally lives with you, or, alternatively, you have access rights to the child and you are taking an active role in the child’s upbringing.

What are the requirements for adult dependent relatives?

If you are applying for a family visa as an adult dependent relative, the person living in the UK must be over 18 and you must be either:

  • A parent aged 18 years or over
  • A grandparent
  • A brother or sister aged 18 years or over
  • A son or daughter aged 18 years or over.

Further, as a result of age, illness or disability, you must require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks. You must also be unable to obtain the required level of care in the country where you live, either because there isn’t anyone who can reasonably provide it to you, or it isn’t affordable.

What is the financial requirement?

In addition to satisfying the specific requirements for you as an applicant based on your relationship with the family member in the UK, you will also need to show that you can financially support yourself, as well as any dependent children where applicable, or that you will be adequately supported and accommodated in the UK by your “sponsor”, without recourse to public funds.

Where applying as a partner, you will need to meet a minimum income threshold from specified sources, although this can be based on a combined income. As a single applicant this is set at £18,600, with an increase of £3,800 where you are applying with one dependant child, and an extra £2,400 for each additional child.

That said, Appendix FM makes provision for “exceptional circumstances”, such that if a strict application of the rules will result in unjustifiably harsh consequences, and thereby render refusal of entry clearance or leave to remain a breach of Article 8, UKVI can take into account other sources of funds.

What is the English language requirement?

In some cases, namely where you are applying as a partner or parent of a UK family member, you may also need to satisfy the English language requirement.

The ability to speak and understand English is fundamental to successful integration into British society. It gives migrants the means to participate in British life, helping them to find work, allowing them to support their children’s education and enabling them to fulfil their potential.

Where applicable, you will need to provide evidence of one of the following:

  • You are a national of a majority English speaking country
  • You have an academic qualification taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD
  • You have passed an approved English language test in speaking and listening.

However, under Appendix FM, you will be exempt from the English language requirement if at the date of application:

  • You are aged 65 or over
  • You have a physical or mental disability which prevents you from meeting the requirement, or
  • There are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK.

What is the KoLL requirement?

In the event that you have lived in the UK for a number of years and decide to apply for indefinite leave to remain, as a partner or a parent of a family member in the UK you may also be required to demonstrate a commitment to respect the laws, values and traditions of the UK.

The ability to communicate in English and have knowledge of life in the UK forms an integral part of this commitment. This is known as the KoLL requirement.

Unless you are exempt by reason of age or otherwise, you can satisfy these requirements by proving your knowledge of English, as above, and by passing a ‘Life in the UK’ test at an approved test centre.

Please note, if you are the victim of domestic abuse you may also be able to apply under Appendix FM, as well as where there are exceptional circumstances, such as insurmountable obstacles to family life. Take advice to understand your options.

Do you have a question about Appendix FM? DavidsonMorris can help!

DavidsonMorris are experienced in all aspects of UK immigration. If you have any queries or require guidance, contact our immigration specialists.

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