Guide to Family Visas in the UK

family visa uk


If you want to live in the United Kingdom with a family member for more than six months, you’ll need to make an application for the relevant type of UK Family visa.

The Family visa category allows individuals to come to the United Kingdom to live with family on the basis of certain qualifying relationships. Whether you are eligible will depend on factors such as the nature of your relationship with your UK relative.

You can apply for a UK Family visa as:


a. A Spouse or Partner: Couples who are civilly and legally married, or who have successfully registered a civil partnership, as recognised by the British Government, or who have lived together for at least two years at the time of application.

b. A Parent: Parents of children in the United Kingdom who are generally but not exclusively under 18.

c. A Child: Children of parents in the United Kingdom who are generally but not exclusively under 18.

d. An Individual Requiring Long-Term Care: Individuals who require long-term and significant care from a parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, or grandchild who permanently resides in the UK.

e. A Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner: Couples who intend to civilly and legally marry or to register a civil partnership.

f. An Individual with an Established Private Life: For those who have lived in the UK for a significant period, typically at least 20 years, to apply to remain based on an established private life by demonstrating deep ties to the UK.



Each of these routes requires specific eligibility requirements and documentation to be submitted. Some routes, such as Spouses and Civil Partners, require less information and evidence due to the binding and legal nature of marriage and civil partnerships. Other routes, such as dependent relatives and unmarried partners, will require much more information and evidence as these situations will vary on a case-by-case basis.

The UK Family Visa process may seem daunting. You will need to follow all necessary steps, as your ability to move to and live in the United Kingdom with your family member will depend on you being granted the visa.

In this guide, we provide a comprehensive overview of the application and eligibility requirements for those applying for a UK Family Visa, with practical advice on overcoming common errors and challenges that can lead to a delayed or refused application.


Section A: Overview of the UK Family Visa


1. What is the UK Family Visa?


The right to family life is a key tenet of British law. The UK’s Immigration Rules make provision for different types of familial relationships under a number of Family visa routes, including spouses, partners, children, parents, fiancé(e)s and relatives requiring long-term care.

While your visa is valid, you will be permitted to work – either on an employed or self-employed basis – study and access the NHS as you will have paid the Immigration Surcharge as part of your visa application.

If you are in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, you can get married or register a civil partnership, but you cannot work or study while in the UK.

In general, most UK Family Visa routes provide visas for either two years and nine months (33 months) if your application was filed outside the UK, or two years and six months (30 months) if your application was made within the UK.

However, this standard duration does not apply to all types of UK Family visa. Those applying as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner can usually only stay for up to 6 months, while the adult dependant relative category is generally granted with a view to permanent settlement from the outset, typically leading directly to ILR, assuming all conditions are met.

At the end of your visa, you can usually apply to extend or switch your visa from within the UK, provided you meet the relevant visa requirements.

In most cases, after living in the UK for a total of five years with valid visa status, Family visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, providing they meet the integration, financial, and language requirements set by the UK Home Office.


2. UK Family Member Status


You may be eligible to live in the United Kingdom with your family member if they are or have one of the following statuses:


a. British citizenship

b. Indefinite Leave to Remain

c. Right of Abode

d. Refugee status or humanitarian protection

e. Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme


As such, the Family visa is designed only for relatives of British citizens or anyone permanently settled in the UK.

If you are related to someone who has permission to stay or remain in the UK under a points-based visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa, you would not be eligible for the Family visa. You would instead need to look at a dependant visa or, alternatively, applying for your own visa, such as under the work or study categories.


3. Applying for a Family Visa

You can apply for the various routes of the UK Family Visa inside or outside the UK, depending on your circumstances.


a. Applying from Outside the UK 


You can apply for a Family visa if you intend to live with your relative in the UK and can prove you have a qualifying familial relationship as either a spouse, partner, child, parent, fiancé(e) or relative requiring long-term care.


b.  Switching to a Family Visa from Within the UK


If you came to the UK on a different visa, you might be able to switch to a family visa to stay with your spouse, partner, child or parent. This is a critical pathway for those whose circumstances have changed, such as entering into a marriage or partnership with a UK resident.

The first step is to determine whether your current visa category allows you to switch to a family visa.

Certain visa categories do not permit you to switch to a family visa while inside the UK. These generally include:


1. Visitor Visas: Those in the UK on a visitor visa cannot switch to a family visa and must leave the UK to apply.

2. Short-term Study Visas: Holders of short-term study visas are also required to apply from outside the UK if they want to switch to a family visa.

3. Seasonal Worker Visas: These visas are for temporary work and do not permit a switch to any long-term visa category, including family visas.

4. Some Points-Based System temporary visas: Depending on the specific scheme, some may not allow an in-country switch to a family visa.


You must also meet the other eligibility requirements for the family visa category, such as relationship proof, financial requirements, and suitable accommodation.


c. Extending a Family Visa


If you are currently in the UK on a family visa, you have the option to apply for an extension to continue staying with your family member before your existing permission expires.’

When you extend your visa to remain with the same family member, any time left—up to 28 days—on your current visa can be transferred to your new visa.

To qualify for settlement, known as ‘indefinite leave to remain,’ you must reside in the UK for a specified duration.

Ensure you understand the residency requirements needed for settlement before applying for an extension.

If you have resided in the UK for a long period, you may be eligible to apply for leave to remain on the grounds of your established private life.


4. Family Visa Processing Times


Family Visa applications made outside the UK should be processed in 24 weeks.

Processing times for applications made inside the UK can vary by category. While partners, spouses and children can expect to wait around 8 weeks, parents and those applying on the basis of private life will generally be processed in 12 months.

You may be given the option to select the ‘priority service’ when you apply, which requires an additional fee of £500 on top of the standard application.

Opting for the ‘priority service’ typically results in a decision within 5 working days. However, for Family visa applications submitted from outside the UK—including those applying as a partner or spouse, parent, child, or an adult needing care from a relative—using the priority service can extend the decision time to up to 30 working days.

The super priority service, if available for your application, costs £1000 in addition to the standard application fee and should result in a decision within one to two working days, depending on how you prove your identity.

Your application could take longer to be processed by the Home Office if there are complexities, such as lack of evidence, the need to attend an interview, or if you have a criminal record.


5. Family Visa Application Fees


The cost of applying for a UK family visa varies depending on the relation you’re joining and where you submit your application. If you’re applying to join your partner, parent, or child, the fee is £1,846 if you apply from outside the UK and £1,048 if you apply from within the UK. The same fees apply for each dependent added to your application.

For adults who require care from a relative, the costs differ based on the relative’s immigration status. If the relative has temporary protection status, such as permission to stay as a refugee or with humanitarian protection, the application costs £404 from outside the UK and £1,048 from inside the UK. For all other cases, it costs £3,250 to apply from outside the UK and £1,048 from within the UK.

If you’re unable to afford the visa fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver under certain circumstances, such as being unable to cover basic living costs or housing.

In addition to the application fee, you will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge per year of leave, which is £1035 per applicant per year, reduced to £776 per child per year of leave.


Section B: Apply as a Partner or Spouse


A Partner or Spouse visa allows you to join or remain with your partner who is either a British citizen, has settled status in the UK (such as indefinite leave to remain), or has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

Eligibility is based on the relationship itself, which must be genuine and recognised under UK law. This includes married couples, civil partnerships, or those who have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage for at least two years.

If you satisfy all the relevant requirements, you will be granted a spouse/partner visa for a period of 2 years 9 months if applying from overseas, and 2 years 6 months if applying to switch from in the UK.

Prior to the expiry of this visa, you can apply to extend your stay and having lived in the UK for a certain amount of time, you may also be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain to allow you to settle in the UK on a permanent basis.


1. Eligibility Requirements


To apply as a spouse or partner, you and your UK sponsor must both be aged over 18, your relationship together must be genuine and subsisting, and you must intend to live together permanently in the UK on the successful grant of a visa.

When applying as a partner, this includes where you are married or in a civil partnership, although this must be a union that is legally recognised in the UK. It also includes unmarried partners, including same-sex partners, provided you have been living in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership for 2 or more years prior to applying.

In addition to meeting the relationship requirement, in most cases, you must also meet both the financial and English language requirements.

To satisfy the financial requirement, you will need to show that you and your partner can support yourselves without recourse to public funds.

For a partner applying under Appendix FM, without dependent children, the threshold is a gross annual income of at least £29,000. This minimum will rise again to £38,700 by early 2025.

To satisfy the English language requirement, you can provide evidence that either you are a national of a majority English-speaking country or that you have an English-taught academic qualification that is recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree.

Alternatively, unless you are aged 65+ or otherwise exempt, you will need to pass an English language test with an approved test provider at CEFR level A1 or higher.


2. Financial Requirements When Applying as a Partner or Spouse


One of the more complex aspects of the Family visa for partners and spouses is the financial requirement.

Under the ‘minimum income requirement’, you and your family member must earn a combined minimum income of at least £29,000 per year. This threshold was increased in April 2024 for new applicants under the route.

Only individuals with existing permission to work in the United Kingdom can have their income count towards this calculation.

You can use employment and non-employment income from specified sources to meet the financial requirement, such as the following:


a. Income from employment (salaried and/or non-salaried)

b. Income from self-employment

c. Non-employment income such as income from dividends, maternity allowance, or property rental

d. Government allowances and benefits

e. Pension funds such as a State, occupation, or private pension

f. Cash savings of at least £16,000: you can only rely solely on savings if you have at least £88,500 in cash savings, which is made up of £29,000 x 2.5 + £16,000 = £88,500. If you have less than £88,500 in cash savings, you must provide evidence of other employment or non-employment income to make up the shortfall. For example, if you’d have £30,000: £30,000 – ‘16,000 / 2.5 = £5,600. £29,000 – £5,600 = £23,400 shortfall to be made up through other sources of income.

You can also use income from multiple jobs and permissible sources to meet the financial requirement.

Your visa application must include adequate supporting evidence to prove that you meet the financial requirements and that your calculations are in line with the latest Home Office rules.


3. Required Documentation


Your application must be supported by evidence proving your eligibility, which may include:


a. Proof of identity (passport or travel document).

b. Evidence of the relationship (marriage certificate, shared financial responsibilities, etc.).

c. Financial evidence (salary slips, bank statements, etc.).

d. Accommodation details.

e. English language certification


4. Common Reasons for Delayed or Refused Spouse Visas


Spouse and partner visa applicants are commonly refused due to a lack of sufficient proof of a genuine relationship, failure to meet the financial requirements, inadequate accommodation, or failure to pass the English language test.

Errors in the application or missing documents can also lead to a visa denial.

Ensure you provide comprehensive documentation to prove you meet each of the requirements and double-check the form for mistakes before you submit.


Section C: Applying as a Parent


This route is for the parent of a child who is a British citizen or has settled status in the UK, who has sole responsibility for the child or access to the child as agreed with the other parent or recognised by the court.

If your application is successful, you can stay in the UK for 2 years and 9 months when applying from overseas or 2 years and 6 months when applying from the UK.

You can also apply to extend this visa and may be eligible for settlement having lived in the UK for a certain amount of time. Importantly, although you can apply to live in the UK to care for your child if you are eligible to apply as a partner, you must apply on that basis instead.


1. Eligibility Requirements


To apply as a parent of a child living in the UK, your child must be under 18 years of age at the time of application, or they must have been under 18 when the parent first applied (if applying for an extension). They cannot be living an independent life, for example, where they have married or had children of their own.

Additionally, your child must be either a British/Irish citizen, settled in the UK, or, where you are applying for leave to remain, they must have lived continuously in the UK for at least 7 years immediately before applying, and it would not be reasonable for them to leave.

You will be required to show that you have parental responsibility for the child and that you currently play, and intend to continue to play, an active role in that child’s upbringing.

You may also need to show that you are able to adequately maintain and accommodate both yourself and your child, as well as your ability to communicate in English.

The minimum threshold is £29,000 per annum for applications made after 11 April 2024.


2. Required Documents


As a minimum, the application will need to be supported by evidence including:


a. Valid passport or other travel identification.

b. Proof of your relationship with the child (birth certificate, legal agreements).

c. Evidence of sole responsibility or shared access agreed with the other parent.

d. Evidence that the child lives permanently in the UK.

e. Financial statements to demonstrate that you can support yourself and your child without public funds.

f. Proof you can provide adequate care and accommodation for the child without public funds.


3. Common Reasons for a Delayed or Refused Parent Visa


One of the common grounds for refusal for parent visa applications is a lack of proof of a genuine relationship with the child.

Ensure your submission includes detailed evidence of your involvement in the child’s life, such as correspondence with schools, attendance at medical appointments, and involvement in extracurricular activities.

Legal documents or court orders that outline custody arrangements or access rights can strongly support your application.

Also include statements from other significant adults in the child’s life, such as teachers or doctors, who can attest to your relationship.

If applicable, provide evidence of financial support, like bank transfers or receipts for things you’ve paid for on behalf of the child.


Section D: Applying as a Child


Children can apply to live with their parents in the UK under the Family visa. It allows children to either join or stay with their parents who are settled or are in the process of settling in the UK.

This visa category accommodates a variety of situations where the parents may have indefinite leave to remain, be British citizens, or hold another form of long-term permission to live in the UK.

Children eligible for this visa can live, attend school, and, depending on their age, work or engage in further education in the UK.

Applications can be made at the same time as their parent or separately, which will determine the specific application process and eligibility requirements to be met.

The visa’s duration usually aligns with the remaining period of the parent’s permission if they have not yet settled permanently.

Children with a Family visa may become eligible to apply for ILR after they attain the required period of continuous residence in the UK, providing a pathway to settlement based on their parent’s visa status.


1. Eligibility Requirements


To be eligible to apply as a child for the Family Visa, the following criteria must be met:


a. The child must be under 18 at the time of application.

b. The child must not be leading an independent life, for instance, married or responsible for a family of their own.

c. Adequate maintenance and accommodation must be available, funded by the parent(s) without recourse to public funds.


The Family visa is, however, one of a number of possible options for children to live with their parents in the UK.

If at least one of the parents has indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or has been granted proof of permanent residence, they might not need a family visa and could be eligible to apply directly for settlement in the UK.

If they are currently in the UK and their parent is unable to include them on their application form, they might qualify to apply based on their private life in the UK.

For children of parents who have obtained settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme, there is an option to apply through this scheme, which is free of charge. This pathway offers continuity of residence rights post-Brexit, as outlined by the UK Home Office.


2. Required Documents


Typical supporting documentation includes:


a. Proof of the parent’s legal status in the UK.

b. Evidence of the relationship, such as birth certificate.

c. Proof of adequate accommodation.

d. Proof of financial stability from the parent(s).


3. Common Reasons for Delays and Refusals


Common issues with Family visa applications for a child include:


a. Evidence of Legal Custody or Guardianship: If the child is not applying with both parents, evidence will be needed of sole custody or the legal right to determine where the child lives. This might include court orders or legal agreements.


b. Consent from Non-Accompanying Parent(s): Consent may also be needed from any non-accompanying parent(s) for the child to travel, live, and study in the UK. This consent should be detailed, covering aspects of education, travel, and residency.


c. Handling Special Circumstances: In cases such as an orphaned child or one under the care of a legal guardian, additional documentation will be required. This includes death certificates of parents or legal documentation confirming guardianship rights approved by a court.

Read our full guide to applying for a UK visa for child here.


Section E: Applying as an Adult Coming to Be Cared for by a Relative


Adult dependent visas are designed for those who need long-term care that cannot be provided in their home country, either due to a lack of available services or because it is not affordable.


1. Applicant Eligibility Criteria


To be eligible for this visa:


a. You must be the parent, grandparent, sibling, or child aged 18 or over of a person who is a British citizen, settled in the UK, or has refugee status or humanitarian protection.


b. You must prove that you need long-term care to do everyday personal and household tasks because of illness, disability, or age.


c. The care you need is not available or affordable in your home country.


d. The person you are joining in the UK will be able to support, accommodate, and care for you without recourse to public funds for at least five years.


2. Caregiver Eligibility Requirements


Your application will also need to evidence that your relative meets the following criteria to qualify as a caregiver:


a. Your UK-based relative must demonstrate the ability to provide care, either by themselves or through arranged services.


b. They must show adequate housing and financial stability to support the dependent without needing public funds.


3. Required Documentation


Along with your application, you will be required to submit evidence of your relationship to the UK resident, your medical condition, financial dependency, and proof of your caregiver’s financial ability. This could include:


a. Medical Documentation: Provide detailed medical records and a doctor’s statement outlining your health condition and the daily support you require.


b. Assessment Reports: Independent assessments from local health authorities or care professionals detailing the lack of suitable care options in your home country.


4. Common Reasons for Delays and Refusals


Under this route, a common issue for applicants is ensuring they are demonstrating that care cannot be provided in their home county. Tips to come this include:


a. Detailed Comparisons: Provide evidence comparing the care standards and availability between the UK and your home country.


b. Expert Opinions: Statements from healthcare professionals or care organisations that outline the insufficiency of care in your home country.


c. Previous Care Attempts: Document past attempts to secure local care, showing why these were unsuccessful or insufficient.


d. Financial Analysis: Detailed financial breakdowns to show that obtaining the necessary care in your home country is financially prohibitive.


Section F: Applying Based on Your Private Life


Private life in the context of UK immigration refers to the right to respect for your established private and family life. This is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

An application based on private life can be made by individuals who may not meet the requirements of other immigration routes but have built a significant private life in the UK over time.


1. Eligibility Requirements


Applicants typically need to show prolonged residence in the UK, such as:


a. Living continuously in the UK for at least 20 years.

b. Being 18 or over and having spent less than 20 years in the UK, but can show significant obstacles to living in your country of origin.

c. Being between 18 and 24 years old and living continuously in the UK for more than half your life.

d. Being under 18 years old and living continuously in the UK for at least 7 years and it being unreasonable to expect the applicant to leave the UK.


You may also be eligible if you were born in the UK to a person who has or is applying for, permission to remain in the UK on the basis of their private life.


2. Required Documentation


Your application will depend on your ability to prove you have an established private life in the UK through significant ties and connections.

Consider how you are integrated into UK society, such as through education, employment, community involvement, and relationships with British citizens or settled persons. Your supporting documents could then include your school records, employment history, tax records, medical records, and personal testimonials.


3. Common Reasons for Application Delays or Refusals


Circumstances which can affect private life applications and which are likely to require specific evidence and argument to address include:


a. Legal Troubles: Any past or present legal issues, including immigration infractions or criminal records, can negatively impact the application.


b. Changes in Circumstances: Significant changes in your life, such as marriage to or divorce from a British citizen or settled person, can affect your application.


c. Health Issues: Severe health problems that require ongoing treatment in the UK can support your application under compassionate circumstances.


Section G: Applying as a Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner


The UK Fiancé Visa is designed for individuals who intend to come to the UK to marry or enter into a civil partnership with a UK resident.

This visa allows the applicant to enter and reside in the UK for up to 6 months, providing a dedicated period to marry or form a civil partnership.

After getting married or entering into the partnership, fiancé(e) visa holders are then expected to switch to a Spouse Visa, which allows them to live, work, and potentially apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after fulfilling certain residency requirements. This transition is crucial as it marks the shift from a temporary arrangement to a pathway aimed at longer-term settlement in the UK.


1. Eligibility Requirements


The eligibility requirements for a UK Fiancé Visa are designed to ensure that both partners are genuinely intending to marry or enter into a civil partnership within six months of arriving in the UK:


a. Relationship Status: You and your partner must both be 18 years old or over and intend to marry or form a civil partnership within 6 months of arriving in the UK. You must have met each other in person, and your relationship should be genuine and subsisting.


b. Sponsorship: Your partner in the UK must either be a British citizen, have settled status (such as indefinite leave to remain, settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or proof of permanent residence), or be in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection.


c. Financial Requirement: You must prove that your partner (the sponsor) meets the minimum income threshold, or has enough savings to support you without access to public funds.


d. Accommodation: You must demonstrate that you will have adequate accommodation for you, your partner, and any dependents without overcrowding and without recourse to public funds.


e. English Language Requirement: Fiancé Visa applicants are not required to meet an English language requirement at the point of initial application for entry clearance as a fiancé. However, you will need to meet this requirement when you apply to switch to a Spouse Visa after marriage.


f. Plan to Live Together: You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK after you are married.

Once you have married or formed a civil partnership, you must apply to switch from your Fiancé Visa to a Spouse Visa to continue living in the UK. This switch will require you to meet additional requirements, including passing an English language test. The Spouse Visa then allows you to work and potentially settle permanently in the UK after meeting further residency requirements.


2. Required Documentation


To support your application, you should provide documentation including:


a. Current Passport and Travel History

b. Proof of Relationship

c. Evidence of Plans to Marry

d. Proof of meeting the Financial Requirement

e. Accommodation Details

f. Proof of your Sponsor’s Status in the UK

g. Sponsorship Declaration:

h. Proof of Meeting English Requirement


3. Common Reasons for Delayed or Refused Fiancé(e) Visa Applications


One of the most common reasons for fiance visa application issues is failure to show that you have made concrete plans to marry or form a civil partnership within six months of arriving in the UK.

As part of your application, ensure you provide evidence of your wedding plans, such as bookings, deposits, and correspondence with suppliers. If you have not yet made arrangements, explain the plan and timeline for organising the marriage.


Section H: How to Apply for a UK Family Visa


To apply for a UK Family Visa, you will need to follow a series of steps to ensure that your application will be approved by the Home Office. This application determines whether you can live in the United Kingdom with your family member, so you must be well-organised throughout the process.


1. Applying for a Family Visa from Outside the UK


First, you will need to ensure that you meet the requirements for the UK Family Visa per the relevant route to your situation. If you do not meet the requirements, you should not apply without the assistance of a solicitor or an immigration adviser.

You will then need to prepare all supporting evidence for your UK Family Visa before submitting the online application. Your documents will need to be in English or Welsh. If they are not in English or Welsh, you will need to provide a certified translation for every relevant document. The specific documents needed will vary depending on the relevant route to your situation.

Next, you will submit your UK Family Visa application online via the UK Visas and Immigration website. At the end of the application, you will need to pay the relevant application fee and, if required, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. The total amount will vary depending on the relevant route to your situation and where you are submitting your application.

Finally, you will need to book a biometrics appointment at a visa application centre in the country where you submitted your application. You can upload your supporting documentation online before your appointment. Alternatively, you can pay a fee and have your supporting documentation scanned and uploaded when you attend your biometrics appointment.

At your biometrics appointment, the following steps will take place:


a. Your fingerprints will be recorded

b. Your photograph will be taken

c. Your supporting documentation will be confirmed and, if needed, uploaded

d. If applying from outside the United Kingdom – your passport will be sent to the Home Office for an entry stamp to be affixed, or you will send your passport


Submitting your biometrics is the final step of the process before your application is sent to UK Visas and Immigration for a decision to be made.

After this appointment, you should receive a decision on your UK Family Visa on time, as outlined by the Home Office. You may be able to pay for a decision to be made on your application more quickly.


2. Applying for a Family Visa for a Child


When applying for UK family visas for children, the process to do this will not only depend on whether the application is being made from overseas or inside the UK but also the basis upon which permission to come to or stay in the UK is souggovernment’s of the child.

In some cases, an application can be made at the same time as the child’s parent(s), while, in others, a separate application may be needed for the child. In all cases, this will necessitate an online application, although a paper form may also be required.

Additionally, as part of the visa application process, the chiUK’say needs to attend an appointment to enrol their biometric information and prove their identity and nationality. If applying from overseas, an appointment will need to be scheduled at an overseas Visa Application Centre (VAC).
If applying from the UK, the appointment will take place at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. For children under the age of 16, they must attend their appointment with a responsible adult.

The requirements for biometric enrolment are also subject to the following age limits:


a. under 6 years old: children under 5 are exempt from having to provide a scan of their fingerprints, but they must provide a digitised image of their face

b. 6 to 16 years old: children must provide both a photograph and fingerprints

c. above 16 years old: children must provide their fingerprints and signatures.



3. Supporting Documents for a Family Visa


The specific supporting evidence required for your UK Family Visa application will depend on the route you are applying under and your specific circumstances.

You will, as a minimum, be required to provide your valid passport or travel document. You will also need to provide the following information and documentation:


a. Information about your family member in the United Kingdom

b. Information about where you will live in the United Kingdom

c. Information about your financial situation and the financial situation of your family member

d. Bank statement(s), employer letter(s), and/or payslip(s)

e. Any previous passports or travel documents that detail your travel history in the past 10 years


Depending on your situation, you may additionally be required to provide the following documentation and evidence:


a. Record(s) about any prior immigration, criminal, or civil offences

b. Your marriage certificate, civil partnership registration certificate, or details outlining your unmarried partnership

c. Proof and details about your relationship and intention to marry or register a civil partnership in the United Kingdom

You should prepare all required documentation before submitting the online application, as there will be questions within the application form related to your supporting evidence.


Section I: Family Visa Application Tips


Applying for a UK Family visa can quickly become stressful. Follow these tips to give your application the best chance of success:


1. Avoid Documentation Issues

Incomplete or incorrect documentation is one of the most common reasons for visa application delays or rejections. Carefully review all required documents and ensure they are up-to-date and fully completed.

Take advice from immigration experts if necessary and double-check that all translations are certified if documents are not in English.


2. Meet Financial Requirements

Proving you meet the minimum income threshold or adequate maintenance funds can be difficult for some applicants, particularly if you have multiple sources of income and are relying in part on cash savings.

Ensure that all financial documentation is meticulously prepared and presented, showing stability and sufficiency. Include bank statements, salary slips, and other financial evidence as required by the specific visa type.

Also, ensure that you are working to the most up-to-date threshold. It was most recently increased to £29,000 in April 2024 and is set to rise again to £38,700 by 2025.


3. Prove Relationship Validity

For partner and spouse visas, proving the genuineness of the relationship is crucial and sometimes challenging, especially if the couple has spent time apart or is cohabiting and not married.

Compile a comprehensive history of the relationship, including photos, communications, joint accounts or bills, and testimonies from friends and family. The more evidence you can provide to demonstrate the relationship’s authenticity, the better.


4. Dealing with Long Processing Times

Visa processing can take a long time, creating uncertainty and stress for applicants and their families.

Apply as early as possible and track your application online if the service is available. Ensure that your application is complete and accurate to avoid any additional delays.


5. Legal Complexities and Changes in Law

Immigration laws can change frequently, and staying informed about current requirements and procedures can be daunting.

Regularly check the UK Government’s official immigration website for updates or consult with an immigration lawyer to get the most current advice and guidance tailored to your situation.


6. Handling Rejections

A visa rejection can be disheartening and complicate future applications.

Understand the reason for rejection, which will be detailed in the refusal letter. Address these specific points in a subsequent application or consider an appeal if you believe there was an error in the decision-making process.


7. Adapting to Special Circumstances

Special circumstances like health issues, changes in family situations, or legal problems require careful handling.

Provide clear and detailed explanations and relevant documentation for any special circumstances. Consider seeking professional guidance to ensure that these factors are presented effectively and sympathetically in your application.


Section J: Alternative Family Routes


If you’re not eligible under the Family visa. there are several routes to consider outside the standard Family visa that may be available depending on your circumstances and heritage. These alternatives include the Ancestry visa, Points-Based System (PBS) Dependant visa, and the Family Reunion program for refugees.


1. UK Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry Visa is for individuals who have a grandparent born in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or in what is now the Republic of Ireland before 31 March 1922. This visa allows you to live, work, and study in the UK for up to five years, after which you can apply for indefinite leave to remain, provided you meet certain residency requirements.

To qualify, applicants must be 17 years or older and must prove that they can work and intend to work in the UK. They also need to show that they can financially support themselves and any dependents without access to public funds. A key aspect of this visa is demonstrating the relationship to the UK-born grandparent, which typically involves supplying birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other legal documents that connect the applicant to their ancestor.


2. Points-Based System (PBS) Dependant Visa

For those who have family members already in the UK under certain Points-Based System visas, such as the Skilled Worker visa, the PBS Dependant visa offers a way to join them. This visa is applicable to spouses, partners, and dependent children of the main visa holder.

Eligibility requires proving the relationship to the main visa holder, such as a marriage certificate for a spouse or a birth certificate for a dependent child. Financial requirements also need to be met, which typically includes demonstrating that the PBS visa holder or the dependents can support themselves without recourse to public funds.


3. Family Reunion for Refugees

The Family Reunion programme is a compassionate initiative that allows those who have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK to bring their pre-flight family members to join them. This is particularly important as it aids in the reunification of families torn apart by war and persecution.

This route is available to spouses or civil partners and children under 18 who were part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country. Importantly, this visa does not require the family members to meet a financial requirement, which is a significant relief for many refugees. The application process involves proving the relationship and the refugee status of the sponsor, as well as ensuring that the arrival of the family members would not result in public funds being used for their support.


Section K: Common Myths Debunked


Myth 1: The process is purely administrative and does not require meticulous preparation.

Reality: While the application process is administrative, it requires careful preparation. Every document submitted is scrutinised, and the smallest oversight can lead to delays or rejection. Thorough preparation and understanding of the requirements are crucial.


Myth 2: Once you have a family visa, you can stay in the UK indefinitely without any further applications.

Reality: Many family visas, such as those for partners or spouses, are initially issued for a limited period and require further applications for extensions or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Each stage has its own requirements and conditions that must be met.


Myth 3: Financial requirements are flexible if you show strong emotional and family ties.

Reality: Financial requirements for family visas are strictly enforced by the UK Home Office. Applicants must meet specific income thresholds or savings requirements to show they can support themselves and their dependents without access to public funds. Emotional or family ties do not typically influence these criteria.


Myth 4: It’s easy to switch from one family visa category to another while in the UK.

Reality: Switching between visa categories can be complex and is not always permitted. Some visas require the applicant to leave the UK and apply from their home country. Always check the specific rules for your visa category and consult with an immigration expert if considering a switch.


Myth 5: Children over 18 cannot be included as dependents on a family visa application.

Reality: While it is more common for dependent children under the age of 18 to be included in family visa applications, in some circumstances, children over 18 can still be included if they are financially dependent on their parents and were previously granted a dependent visa.


Myth 6: A family visa is guaranteed if you are married to a British citizen.

Reality: Being married to a British citizen does not automatically guarantee a family visa. Applicants must meet all the eligibility criteria, including the relationship being genuine and subsisting, meeting the financial requirement, and proving knowledge of the language.


Myth 7: You don’t need legal advice for a family visa application.

Reality: While it’s not mandatory to have legal advice, the complexity of immigration laws and frequent changes to regulations mean that getting professional advice can significantly enhance the chances of a successful application. Errors and misunderstandings can lead to rejections.


Myth 8: My family can join me immediately once I get my visa.

Reality: Family members must apply and be approved for their own visas, and the processing times can vary. It’s important to plan for potentially lengthy application processes.


Section L: Summary


Navigating the complexities of the UK’s family visa application process requires a clear understanding of the various visa types and their specific requirements.

Each visa category—from partner and spouse visas to those for children, parents, and adult dependents—has been designed to meet different familial circumstances and needs.

It is essential for applicants to thoroughly assess their situations against the eligibility criteria set out for each visa type. Errors in the donation or a lack of evidence can lead to delays, additional costs, or outright denials, which could significantly impact family plans and the possibility of living together in the UK.

Applicants must also stay informed about the frequent changes in immigration laws and regulations, which can affect application strategies and outcomes. Considering the high stakes of family visa applications, seeking advice from immigration experts is advisable to navigate the process effectively.


Section M: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What are the financial requirements for a UK family visa? 

The financial requirements vary depending on the visa type. For partner and spouse visas, you generally need to prove an annual income of at least £29,000. Proof can include income from employment, self-employment, pensions, and other sources.


How long does it take to process a family visa application in the UK? 

Processing times can vary significantly based on the type of visa and the applicant’s country. Generally, applications made from outside the UK take about 24 weeks, whereas some applications made within the UK might be processed within 8 weeks and others can take around 12 months. Processing times can vary depending on specific circumstances and workload at processing centres.


Can I apply for a family visa while I am already in the UK on another type of visa? 

In many cases, you can switch to a family visa from within the UK if you are currently on another visa type. However, there are exceptions, such as if you are on a visitor visa or a short-term student visa, in which case you must apply from your home country.


What happens if my family visa application is rejected? 

If your application is rejected, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for the decision. You may have the option to appeal or reapply. It’s often helpful to address any refusal reasons comprehensively in a new application or get legal advice on the possibility and process of an appeal.


Are same-sex partners eligible for partner visas?

Yes, the UK recognises same-sex relationships as marriages or civil partnerships for immigration purposes. The requirements are the same as for opposite-sex couples, focusing on the genuineness of the relationship, financial thresholds, and other eligibility criteria.


How do I prove a ‘genuine relationship’ in a spouse or partner visa application? 

Evidence can include joint bank account statements, tenancy agreements or mortgages in both names, birth certificates of children, photographs together, correspondence addressed to both, and statements from friends or family affirming your relationship.


What can I do if I need to bring an adult relative to the UK for care purposes? 

You would apply for an ‘Adult Dependent Relative’ visa. This requires proving that the adult relative needs long-term care that you will provide, that such care isn’t available in their home country and that you have sufficient financial resources to support them without public funds.


Can children over 18 years old still be considered dependents? 

Children over 18 can be considered dependents if they are currently in the UK as dependents or if they cannot support themselves due to a disability. Each case is reviewed based on its specifics, so thorough documentation is essential.


Section N: Glossary of Terms for UK Family Visa Applications


Biometrics: Data collected from applicants, including fingerprints and facial images, is used for identity verification within the visa application process.

Civil Partnership: A legally recognised relationship between two people of the same sex, granting them similar rights and responsibilities to married couples.

Dependent: A family member who relies on another person for financial support, such as a child or elderly relative.

Financial Requirement: The sponsoring partner or spouse in the UK must meet the minimum income requirement to support the visa application.

Home Office: The administration department in the United Kingdom responsible for immigration, security, and law and order.

ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain): Permission to stay in the UK without any time restrictions, which can be applied for after meeting certain residency requirements.

Leave to Enter/Remain: Permission from the Home Office to enter or stay in the UK, either temporarily or permanently.

NHS Surcharge: A health surcharge that must be paid by foreign nationals applying for a visa to the UK, granting them access to the National Health Service.

Public Funds: Welfare benefits provided by the UK government. Most non-UK residents on temporary visas cannot access public funds.

Settled Status: The grant of permission to stay in the UK permanently, generally achieved after certain criteria, including length of stay, are met.

Sponsor: A person who is already settled in the UK or has refugee status, who agrees to support a visa applicant’s application to enter or remain in the UK.

Spouse Visa: A visa that allows married partners of UK citizens or persons settled in the UK to immigrate to the UK.

Visa Application Center (VAC): Facilities designated for the collection of visa applications and biometric information from visa applicants.

This glossary provides concise definitions of key terms related to the UK family visa process, aiding readers in navigating the complex language and policies they will encounter during their application.


Section O: Additional Links


UK Government

The UK Home Office provides comprehensive resources and official guidance for all types of visas, including family visas. This is the most authoritative source for up-to-date application forms, rules, and procedures.


Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provides practical, reliable advice online that can help applicants understand their rights and the legal aspects of migrating to the UK, including how to deal with complex visa applications.


The Law Society

For those who need to consult with a solicitor specialising in immigration law, the Law Society’s website offers a directory to find accredited professionals who can provide legal advice and assistance throughout the visa application process.


The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford

The Migration Observatory offers detailed reports and briefings on various aspects of UK immigration, including policy changes and statistical data that can be useful for understanding the broader context of family migration.



Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing & Content Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

Legal disclaimer


The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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