When planning to move to the UK, it can be helpful to know someone who is already in the UK to help with your visa application. Immediate family members can usually apply to join their family in the UK on one of the Family Visas. However, there are restrictions on which family members can join, as well as what legal status the family member already in the UK – known as the sponsor – has.
In some cases, students can also bring family members to the UK with them; what the requirements are, who can join you, and what are your and your family’s rights in the UK, we’ll look at in detail now.
Student Visas are available for foreign nationals over the age of 16 who wish to come to the UK to study at a British institution or university. EU and EEA citizens also require visas for the UK if they wish to stay in the UK for more than 6 months and have not been living legally in the UK since before 2021 – when the UK officially left the EU.
For applicants aged 16 to 18 years old, your visa will be issued for up to 2 years. For applicants over 18 years old and studying for a degree-level qualification, the Student Visa will be issued for up to 5 years, usually depending on the length of the course.
Student Visa holders that are 16 to 18 years old, or studying for a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree, may not bring family members to the UK, unless they are government-sponsored students who will be in the UK for more than 6 months. Government sponsorship usually refers to scholarships. Only students with government sponsorship or those studying postgraduate courses i.e. research-based courses or doctorates that last more than 9 months may bring family to the UK with them.
These family members can only be:
- A partner or spouse
- A child under 18 who is not living independently
If their application is successful, the family members’ visa will be issued for the same length of time as the Student Visa holder.
What Are the Costs for Family Members Joining a Student?
Each family member who is joining a student in the UK must pay the same application fee as the student, the immigration health surcharge, and, in most cases, prove they have sufficient funds to cover their stay in the UK. They do not have to provide evidence of sufficient funds if:
- The Student Visa holder can prove their course payment will cover the costs of their dependents
- They are coming from a country on the list of exceptions for financial requirements
The costs of the application are as follows:
- The application fee is £490 per applicant
- The immigration health surcharge is at least £470, depending on how long you will stay (use the government’s IHS calculator for your exact fee)
- You will have to have at least £680 per month available in your account to support yourself (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London, or
- £845 per month available in your account to support yourself (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
To meet the financial requirements, the minimum amount of funds must be present in your account for at least 28 days in the month leading up to your application to demonstrate it is your money and will remain accessible once you have come to the UK.
If you plan to join a family member in the UK who has permanent residency or citizenship, a Family Visa may be the best route for you.
Who Can Sponsor a Family Visa?
Although known as the sponsor, the family member in the UK who is bringing other family members from abroad doesn’t have much to do with the application itself. They cannot request a Family Visa for family members themselves, however, they can provide financial support if necessary, or documents demonstrating the type and length of the relationship with the applicant.
However, they do have to be a legal resident to be considered a sponsor, and for the Family Visa application to be viable.
A sponsor for a Family Visa must either:
- Be a British or Irish citizen
- Have permanent residency in the UK (ILR)
- Have residency as a refugee or protected person
- Have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
Student Visas do not grant permanent residency or citizenship, so you cannot sponsor family members for Family Visas if you are a Student Visa holder.
Types of Family Visa
There are four types of Family Visa, depending on your relationship with the sponsor. These are:
- Partner and Spouse Visa
- Parent Visa
- Child Dependant Visa
- Adult Dependant Relative Visa
To be eligible for the Partner and Spouse Visa, you must be able to prove you have been in a relationship for at least 2 years and plan to get married or have a civil partnership within 6 months of your arrival in the UK, or provide a certificate of marriage or civil partnership.
For Parent Visas, your child must be under 18 years old or not living independently, i.e. living alone or married. Child dependents must also prove they are under 18 or not living independently.
Adult Dependant Relatives must show their relation to the sponsor and demonstrate in their application why they require care from the sponsor in the UK.
Family Visas and Your Rights in the UK
If you have paid the appropriate fees and your Family Visa application is successful, you will have the right to live, work and study in the UK for the length of your visa. Partners and parents will have the right to reside in the UK for up to 2 years and 9 months on their first application.
Child and adult dependants will be granted permission to stay in the UK indefinitely, to have the same right to stay as their sponsor. However, if their sponsor has their right to stay in the UK withdrawn, the dependents’ right to live in the UK will also be affected.
Such reasons for having your residency revoked include:
- Illegal activity such as serious crime, or immigration crimes
- Returning to the country they have fled from if in the UK with protected status
Depending on how long they have been living in the UK before their sponsor was ordered to be deported, dependents may be able to apply to stay in the UK based on reasons related to their private life.
Temporary Residency, Permanent Residency and British Citizenship
It’s important to understand the different terms related to the visa process in the UK, so you know exactly what kind of permissions you have while in the UK and whether you need to leave at a specific date.
Temporary residency refers to any visa that has an expiration date. Student Visas, Parent Visas and Partner and Spouse Visas all therefore grant temporary residency in the UK. Permanent residency, also known as settlement or indefinite leave to remain (ILR), grants permission to stay in the UK indefinitely, i.e. with no date to leave the country. Child Visas, Adult Dependant Visas and the EU Settlement Scheme all grant permanent residency.
While you may live, work, study and use public health services with permanent residency, you must still adhere to certain restrictions while in the UK and are not considered a British citizen. With British citizenship, however, you have the same rights and responsibilities as other British nationals and can apply for a British passport. You may have to renounce your citizenship in your home country if they do not permit dual citizenship.
Need UK Visa Help? – Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions
Knowing what visa you need to come to the UK can be complicated in itself, without thinking about collecting the relevant documentation to go through the application process, and ensuring everything is submitted on time. Fortunately, you don’t need to go through it alone!
Synergy Immigration Solutions has a team of experts in UK visa matters and is here to help any individual with their application, as well as their family members. Contact us today to find out how we can help with your application!