Can EU Family Member Travel to UK Without Visa?
While the UK was never part of the Schengen Area of visa-free borderless travel within the EU, several changes have been made to British immigration laws following the decision to leave the European Union. There are many different visa options for people in varying circumstances so knowing which one to apply for can be complicated.
Fortunately, Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help you understand everything you need to know about who can travel to the UK without a visa and what visas you can apply for. Moreover, we can help you with your application to increase your chances of successfully obtaining a UK visa. Let’s get into it.
Visa-Free Travel to the UK
The British government website claims that there are options to enter the UK without a visa, however, this misleadingly implies there are no regulations, when in fact, travelling to the UK, be it for leisure, work or study, has many requirements.
You can enter the UK without a visa on a short-term basis (fewer than 6 months) if you’re from an EU or EEA country or Switzerland, however, you must a valid passport, which should be valid for the whole time you are in the UK.
Some people are also eligible to enter the UK for meetings and conferences related to business activities, provided they meet the requirements of the points-based immigration system.
As a business visitor, you cannot:
- do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person
- do a work placement or internship
- sell directly to the public or provide goods and services
If you’re from certain Commonwealth countries, you can stay in the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, however, there is a restriction on activities you can undertake.
While in the UK as a tourist, you cannot:
- do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person
- claim public funds(benefits)
- live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits
- marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. You’ll need a Marriage Visitor visa instead
In addition, you must also meet the Standard Visitor eligibility requirements and provide sufficient evidence of the reason for your visit, your intention to leave at the end of your stay, and that you have sufficient finances to cover the costs of your stay.
So, in short, an EU family member may be able to travel to the UK without a visa, however, it is necessary to check your eligibility before your visit.
Are There UK Family Visas?
There are several Family Visas to enter the UK to join loved ones for more than 6 months, and each has slightly different requirements for spouses, parents, and dependants. The most important thing to note, however, is that you can only apply for a UK family visa if your family member is a UK resident. Even if your family member has lived in the UK for a number of years, that does not automatically qualify them as a UK resident, so check their visa status before you apply to join them.
Family Visas include:
- Spouse Visa
- UK Parent Visa
- Child Dependant Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Adult Dependant Relative Visa
Which one you should apply for depends on what relation you have to the family member you intend to join. Each family visa except the Adult Dependant Relative Visa costs £1,538 to apply for, from outside the UK, and £1,048 to apply from within.
Each family visa differs slightly, although generally, you will be asked to provide:
- A passport and photo ID for both the applicant and family member in the UK
- Biometric photos and fingerprints
- Proof of relationship with the family member in the UK e.g. birth certificate or marriage certificate
- Evidence of a genuine relationship between applicant and family member e.g. correspondence, shared bills
- Proof of accommodation in the UK
- Proof of English language skills
- Proof of sufficient finances e.g. bank account statement or work contract showing regular payment
- Proof of Tuberculosis vaccine or negative test
- Any criminal history
- Any previous immigration applications
- Copies of entry and exit stamps or visas in old passports
- Details of any countries lived in outside of the UK and contacts in those countries
If any of these documents are in your native language, you’ll have to provide a translation in English which includes the name and contact details of the translator to ensure they are a qualified translator.
What’s more, evidence relating to a relationship should be official documents from the government, your landlord, a hospital or reputable companies such as your home’s energy provider that has both you and your partner, parent or dependant’s details on it. Birthday cards, photographs, texts and plane tickets, even if they have everyone’s details on them, are not considered sufficient evidence and should not be submitted.
Additionally, you cannot apply for a family visa or dependant visa if your family member in the UK is there on a student visa, unless they are one of the following:
- a government-sponsored student starting a course that lasts longer than 6 months
- a full-time student on a postgraduate level course (RQF level 7 or above) that lasts 9 months or longer
What’s the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme is a way of moving to the UK if you’re from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and have a family member who has been settled or pre-settled in the UK since at least 31 December 2020. The deadline for applications was 30 June 2021, however, if you can provide evidence that you have reasonable grounds for not submitting your application until now, you can still apply.
You’ll need an in-date (not-expired or about to expire) passport or national identity card (if you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) with a biometric chip to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, however, in some cases, you can apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit without having a biometric ID before your application, however, you will have to send your documentation to the home office. The EU Settlement family permit is valid for up to 6 months. Once you have it, you can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Similarly to the UK Family Visas, as a parent, partner, spouse or child, grandchild or great-grandchild, you need to prove your relationship with the family member you intend to join in the UK started before 31 December 2020 and is ongoing.
Can You Settle in the UK from an EU country?
To settle in the UK, you need to be living there for at least 5 years in most cases. With some visas, you can apply to reside in the UK (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain) after 2 years, however, this is only applicable for people working in the UK on Tier 1 visas. People who have the Innovator Founder or Global Talent visa can also apply to settle in the UK after 3 years. You may also need to meet the salary or financial requirements – this depends on your visa.
Settling in the UK allows you to live, work and study for as long as you wish. It’s not the same as becoming a British citizen, but once you have ILR, you can also take the British Citizenship test to become a naturalised Brit. If you have been staying in the UK for five years or more under any of the Family Visas, you can apply for settled status. Moreover, if you’ve got a UK Ancestry Visa, you may be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
Can You Travel to the UK with a Schengen Visa?
You cannot travel to the UK with a Schengen Visa. The UK has never been part of the Schengen area which permits travel across many EU countries without needing to show identification at the borders. So, while you can still obtain a Schengen visa to freely move around most EU countries, this does not permit you entry to the UK.
Get Help with Your UK Visa Today – Synergy Immigration Solutions
The UK visa process can be incredibly complicated, with different visas for people from different countries, with different relations and family histories. What’s more, the application process is often different between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, so you’d be excused for tearing your hair out after trying to understand what visa you need, what it entitles you to and how to apply.
But you don’t need to worry any longer. Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help you apply for whichever UK visa you need and guide you through the entire process. Meet the team and contact us today to learn how we can help you.