A UK Family Visa is needed for foreign nationals to come to the UK to join a family member for a period of more than 6 months.
Shorter stays will usually require a standard visitor visa.
Who needs a UK family visa?
You will need to apply for a UK family visa if:
- You are a non-UK resident foreign national
- You intend to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months and
- You have an eligible relationship to either a:
- UK ‘settled’ person i.e. a British citizen or holding Indefinite Leave to Remain or
- an individual in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection
You may also be able to apply on the basis of ‘private life’ if you’ve lived in the UK for many years already.
If you are already in the UK on a different visa, you may be able to switch to the Family Visa to remain with your spouse or partner, child or parent.
If you are outside the UK, you can apply for a Family Visa to join your spouse, partner, fiancé(e), fiancée, child, parent or relative who will provide long-term care for you.
Eligibility for a UK family visa will vary depending on your relationship with the UK settled person e.g. as either the partner, child, parent or dependent adult relative. A partner includes a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, a spouse or civil partner, as well as an unmarried or same-sex partner. An unmarried partner includes anyone who has been living in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of application for a Family Visa UK.
We take a brief look at the requirements for the main types of family relationship, but it is always best to take advice on your circumstances to ensure you are applying for the most appropriate route.
UK family visa for partners
Under the UK Family Visa, spouses and partners are granted permission to stay in the UK for up to 2.5 years. You can then apply to extend your stay, and in doing so accrue eligibility with 5 years in the UK for indefinite leave to remain.
For fiancé(e)s, the maximum stay is limited to 6 months.
If you are applying for a Family Visa UK 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
- You must intend to live together permanently in the UK.
You’ll also be able to include dependent children in your application.
Where you choose to establish or continue your family life in the UK as someone’s partner, in most cases you must also meet a financial and English language requirement.
Partner visa financial requirement
To satisfy the financial requirement you will need to demonstrate that you and your partner can support yourselves, as well as any dependent children, without recourse to public funds.
You can do this by meeting a minimum income threshold. 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 thereafter an extra £2,400 for each additional child.
You will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement in the form of a minimum income threshold if your partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance. Instead, you will need to provide evidence of adequate maintenance and accommodation for you and any dependents.
Partner visa English language requirement
To satisfy the English language requirement you will need to provide evidence that either you are a national of a majority English speaking country, you have passed an approved English language test, or you have an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD.
You will be exempt from meeting the English language requirement if you are aged 65 or over, you have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from meeting this requirement, or there are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK.
UK family visa for children
Children can apply either as dependents on their parent’s application, or separately. They must however satisfy the following requirements:
- They must be under the age of 18 at the date of application
- They must not be married or in a civil partnership
- They must not have formed an independent family unit
- They must not be leading an independent life
One of the child’s 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 UK.
The financial requirement must also be met, insofar as it will need to be shown that the parent or parent’s partner will be able to financially support the child and provide adequate accommodation in the UK without recourse to public funds. There is, however, no English language requirement here.
UK family visa for parents
If you are applying for a Family Visa UK 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 7 years immediately preceding the date of application
You will be required to provide evidence that you either have sole parental responsibility for the child or that the child normally lives with you, or alternatively, you have access rights to the child and that you are taking, and intend to continue to take, an active role in the child’s upbringing.
You will also be required to show that you are able to adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependents, as well as your ability to understand and speak English (and satisfy the KoLL requirement where you are applying for indefinite leave to remain).
UK family visa for adult dependant relatives
If you are applying for a Family Visa UK 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
To be eligible as an adult dependent relative you must, as a result of age, illness or disability, 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 it is not available and there is no-one in that country who can reasonably provide it or, alternatively, it is not affordable.
To qualify for a Family Visa UK you will also be required to provide evidence that you can be adequately maintained, accommodated and cared for in the UK by the person living there without recourse to public funds.
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for a Family Visa UK, there are exceptional circumstances that may still be taken into account, such as where it would be a breach of your human rights to stop you from coming to the UK or forcing you to leave.
You may also be granted a Family Visa UK in the following circumstances:
- there would be significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome.
- you have a child who has lived in the UK continuously for 7 years immediately preceding the date of the application and it would not be reasonable to expect them to leave.
Do you have a question about a UK family visa?
DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals with their UK immigration needs, and can guide and support you through any Home Office process, including an application to live with a loved one in the UK. If you have a question about a Family Visa, please contact us.
Last updated: 30 October 2020