As a family member of a relative in the United Kingdom, you may be eligible to apply for a family visa to join them in Britain.
The right to family life is a key tenet of British and European human rights law. The immigration system of the United Kingdom outlines many routes for family members to move to the United Kingdom to be with their family members in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
At first, 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 the approval of this application. This article will outline common questions and concerns from applicants considering submitting a UK Family Visa application.
What is the UK Family Visa?
The UK Family Visa affords immigration permission that allows you to come to the United Kingdom to live with a family member. This is a broad category that applies to a number of family member categories. You can apply for the various routes of the UK Family Visa inside or outside the UK, depending on your circumstances.
You may be eligible to live in the United Kingdom with your family member if they are or have one of the following statuses:
- British citizenship
- Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Right of Abode
- Refugee status or humanitarian protection
- Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
Who is eligible to apply as a family member?
The following types of family members are eligible to apply for a UK Family Visa to live in the United Kingdom:
Spouses – This includes couples who are civilly and legally married, as recognised by the British Government
Civil Partners – This includes couples who have successfully registered a civil partnership, as recognised by the British Government
Fiancé(e)s – This includes couples who intend to civilly and legally marry
Proposed Civil Partners – This includes couples who intend to successfully register a civil partnership
Unmarried Partners – This includes couples who have lived together for at least two years at the time of application
Children – This includes children of parents in the United Kingdom who are generally but not exclusive under the age of eighteen
Parents – This includes parents of children in the United Kingdom who are generally but not exclusively under the age of eighteen
Dependent Relatives – This includes individuals who require long-term and significant care from a parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, or grandchild who permanently resides in the United Kingdom
Each of these routes entails a slightly different process and eligibility requirements, as the specified information and evidence will differ amongst the categories. 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 a great deal more information and evidence as these situations will vary on a case-by-case basis.
What kind of activities does the UK Family Visa permit?
Activities permitted on the UK Family Visa will vary depending on the route you use to apply. On all routes of the UK Family Visa, you can come to the United Kingdom to live with your family member.
If you are in the United Kingdom on the Spouse, Civil Partner, Parent, Child, or Dependent Relative routes of the UK Family Visa, you can:
- Work in the United Kingdom for a British or foreign company, or as a self-employed individual
- Study in the United Kingdom
- Access the NHS
If you are in the United Kingdom on the Fiancé(e) and Proposed Civil Partner route of the UK Family Visa, you can:
- Get married or register a Civil Partnership
- Apply to extend or switch your visa within the United Kingdom
What kind of activities does the UK Family Visa prohibit?
Activities forbidden on the UK Family Visa will vary depending on the route you use to apply. On all routes of the UK Family Visa, you cannot usually gain access to public funds (also known as benefits). You also cannot apply for settlement in the United Kingdom until you are eligible.
If you are in the United Kingdom on the Fiancé(e) and Proposed Civil Partner route of the UK Family Visa, you cannot work or study in the United Kingdom. You also cannot access the National Health Service (NHS). Once you have applied for and been granted further leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a Spouse or Civil Partner, your permitted activities will differ.
What are the eligibility requirements for the UK Family Visa?
To be eligible for the UK Family Visa, you must be able to prove that you meet the following general criteria:
- You have a genuine and durable relationship with your family member
- You have a good knowledge of the English language
- You meet the financial requirement
Some requirements may differ depending on your specific circumstances, and there may be concessions available if you have significant barriers.
What is the financial requirement for the UK Family Visa?
The UK Family Visa has a financial requirement of applicants and their family members. This requirement is also known as the ‘minimum income requirement’. It requires that you and your family member must earn a combined minimum income of £18,600 per year. Individuals with children who are not British or Irish citizens, have pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or hold Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom will need to demonstrate additional funds per child. This amounts to £3,800 for your first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child.
Only individuals with existing permission to work in the United Kingdom can have their income count towards this calculation. If you do not have existing permission to work in the United Kingdom, such as individuals with a Skilled Worker Visa switching to a Family Visa after marrying their British partner, can have their income count towards the financial requirement.
The financial requirement denotes that you and/or your family member must have earned You can use income from more than one job to calculate the financial requirement. You can use employment and non-employment income of specified sources to meet the financial requirement, such as the following:
- Income from employment (salaried and/or non-salaried)
- Income from self-employment
- Non-employment income such as income from dividends, maternity allowance, or property rental
- Government allowances and benefits
- Savings of at least £16,000 – please note you can solely rely on savings if you have at least £62,500 in cash savings. If you have less than £62,500 in cash savings, you will need to provide evidence of other employment income or non-employment income
- Pension funds such as a State, occupation, or private pension
The financial requirement is a strict rule for the UK Family Visa as per Home Office policy, so you will need to ensure that your supporting evidence and calculations are in line with Government requirements.
What supporting evidence is required for my UK Family Visa application?
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, at minimum, be required to provide your valid passport or travel document. You will also need to provide the following information and documentation:
- Information about your family member in the United Kingdom
- Information about where you will live in the United Kingdom
- Information about your financial situation and the financial situation of your family member
- Bank statement(s), employer letter(s), and/or payslip(s)
- 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:
- Record(s) about any prior immigration, criminal, or civil offences
- Your marriage certificate, civil partnership registration certificate, or details outlining your unmarried partnership
- 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.
How long is a UK Family Visa valid?
The length of your UK Family Visa will depend on the specific route you use to apply and where you submit your application (inside or outside the United Kingdom). In general, most UK Family Visa routes provide visas for either two years and nine months if your application was lodged outside the United Kingdom, or two years and six months if your application was lodged within the United Kingdom.
However, this standard does not apply to all routes of the UK Family Visa. The Fiancé(e) and Proposed Civil Partner route of the UK Family Visa provides a six-month visa. Many dependent relatives will be granted indefinite residence within the United Kingdom. You will need to determine how long you can stay in the United Kingdom on your UK Family Visa depending on the route you take.
How do I apply for a UK Family Visa?
To apply for a UK Family Visa, you will need to follow a series of steps to assure 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.
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.
Second, you will 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:
- Your fingerprints will be recorded
- Your photograph will be taken
- Your supporting documentation will be confirmed and, if needed, uploaded
- 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.
How long does a UK Family Visa take to process?
In general, the Home Office has committed to processing all UK Family Visas within six months. More specifically, applications lodged outside the United Kingdom will generally be processed within twelve weeks. Applications lodged inside the United Kingdom will generally be processed within eight weeks of the application date.
You may be able to pay for Super Priority processing for your application. Super Priority processing costs £800 in addition to the standard application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. This allows you to receive a decision on your application within one to two working days.
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.
How much does it cost to apply for a UK Family Visa?
The cost of a UK Family Visa will depend on whether you apply inside or outside the United Kingdom. In general, applications lodged within the United Kingdom will cost £1,033 per applicant. Applications lodged outside the United Kingdom will cost £1,523 per applicant. Individuals applying as dependent relatives outside the United Kingdom will be required to pay an application fee of £3,250.
Most routes of the UK Family Visa will also require payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. This currently amounts to £624 per year of the duration of your visa. For a 2.5 year visa, the IHS fee alone will cost £1,560. This is in addition to the cost of the application fee for the UK Family Visa.
What happens if my UK Family Visa application is refused?
If your UK Family Visa application is refused, you can choose to resubmit a new application or file an appeal to the Home Office. Immigration appeals can take a long time to process and require a significant burden of proof on the part of the applicant. It can prove legally complex to lodge a Family Visa appeal, so you may need to consult a specialist immigration solicitor or adviser. Family immigration routes fall under European human rights law, so there are greater protections that may work to support your case.
UK Family visa FAQs
What is a UK Family Visa?
The UK Family Visa is an immigration route for family members of British citizens, individuals with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, individuals with Indefinite Leave to Remain or Right of Abode, and individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection to live in the United Kingdom with their family member.
Who is eligible for a UK Family Visa?
Eligible family members for the UK Family Visa include spouses, civil partners, fiancé(es), proposed civil partners, unmarried partners, children, parents, and dependent relatives. These family member categories must also meet several additional eligibility requirements, such as a financial requirement and knowledge of the English language.
How long is the UK Family Visa valid?
The UK Family Visa validity period will depend on the specific route you take and whether you apply inside or outside the United Kingdom. This will range from 6 months for the Fiancée and Proposed Civil Partner route to indefinitely for dependent relatives. For other categories, you will be granted a visa of 2.5 years at a time before you will be required to renew your immigration status or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, if eligible.
How much does the UK Family Visa cost?
The UK Family Visa will generally cost £1,033 per applicant for applications lodged inside the United Kingdom and £1,523 per application for applications lodged outside the United Kingdom. Most routes of the UK Family Visa will also require payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee.
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.