When applying for a Family Visa for the UK, it’s important to be clear on certain terminology. The sponsor is the person living legally in the UK already, and the applicant is the family member wishing to join the sponsor in the UK from abroad. The applicant must be the person who completes the application.
However, if the person applying is elderly or has a medical condition that makes it hard for them to complete the application online, someone can apply on their behalf. Either a friend or family member, or a visa agency. The application can be done online from the UK or outside of the UK, but how long it takes to process the application changes according to the location.
Let’s look at Family Visas, specifically the Parent Visa, in more detail.
About Parent Visas
There are four types of Family Visa:
- Partner or Spouse Visa
- Parent Visa
- Child Dependent Visa
- Adult Dependant Relative Visa
For parents to come to the UK to live with their children, they must apply for a Parent Visa. However, there are also certain conditions to be eligible for this visa.
Your child must be under 18 when you first start your application. You may extend your Parent Visa from the UK if they were 18 when you first applied. Your child must also live in the UK, live with you, unless they are living in an educational establishment such as a boarding school, and not be married or in a civil partnership.
If you’re applying for the first time to travel to the UK to care for your child, you will not have evidence to prove you take an active role in their upbringing. However, you may provide other evidence to show your intent to care for them, including:
- A legal document written by a solicitor and signed by you and the other parent declaring your right and intent to care for your child
- A legal document proving you are applying for access to look after or visit your child
If you are extending your Parent Visa from the UK, you must provide evidence that you are active in the upbringing of your child. This evidence must be from reliable sources such as your child’s school board, local council or the courts.
How to Apply for a Parent Visa
Each UK visa application can be submitted online. They can be completed in the UK or abroad, however, if the application is made from the UK, the applicant must be in the UK legally i.e. with a valid visa when making their application.
You can extend your visa or switch from a different visa from the UK, but you need to apply before your current visa has expired, or you will be permitted to leave the UK and will have to start your application again from outside. If you have already paid the application fee, you may not receive this back.
To apply for a Parent Visa from outside the UK, you will have to pay:
- £1,538 for the application
- £1,872 for the immigration health surcharge
The Home Office will process the visa within 24 weeks unless they require more information from you or need you to undergo an interview at your nearest embassy, in which case the process may be extended.
To apply for a Parent Visa from inside the UK, you will have to pay:
- £1,048 for the application
- £1,872 for the immigration health surcharge, or £1,560 when extending your application
The Home Office will process the visa within 8 weeks provided you have given all of the relevant information.
What if You’re Over 18?
If you are over 18 years old or under 18 but living independently, i.e. married, in a civil partnership or working full-time, your parent cannot apply for a Parent Visa to come to the UK. If they are elderly or have a medical condition that means they require care from you, they can apply for an Adult Dependant Relative Visa instead. This will permit them to stay in the UK for as long as you (the sponsor) have permission to stay in the UK.
If your parent does not require care and is not eligible for the Parent Visa, they can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa instead. This allows them to stay in the UK for up to 6 months, provided they have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their stay and have suitable accommodation to stay in for the duration of their stay. You cannot request their visa for them, but you can write an invitation letter to assist their application if you plan on hosting them while they stay in the UK.
If they are an EEA or EU citizen, they do not need a visa to stay in the UK for less than 6 months.
What Rights Your Parents Will Have in the UK
After submitting your application, you will receive a response from the Home Office within the specified time. If your application is successful, you’ll have an appointment to have your biometric information and photograph taken, unless you have provided them in your application. You’ll then receive your temporary residence permit and can travel to the UK, or remain in the UK if you have extended your Parent Visa.
Upon first application, you will usually be able to stay in the UK for up to 2 years and 9 months. When extending your visa, you will usually be given permission to stay in the UK for a further 2 years and 6 months. You will have to pay an application fee and the immigration health surcharge each time.
Once you have your temporary residence permit, you can live, work and study in the UK for the duration of your visa. You cannot claim public funds in most cases, such as unemployment benefits.
If at any point during your stay in the UK on a temporary visa you commit any serious crimes, financial or immigration crimes, or fail to meet any conditions of your visa, you will have your visa withdrawn and will be asked to leave the UK.
When They Can Become Permanent Residents
Anyone who has lived in the UK legally for 5 years or more can apply for permanent residency. Unlike temporary residency, with permanent residency, also known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR), there is no expiration date on your permit, so you may remain indefinitely and leave and enter the UK as many times as you please.
Therefore, after extending a Parent Visa once, you will have been in the UK for 5 years and 3 months in total, so you can apply for permanent residency to ensure your legal status in the UK. After having had ILR for at least 12 months, you may then apply for British citizenship if you wish.
Once you have British citizenship, you can apply for a UK passport and will have all the same rights within the UK as British nationals. Some countries do not permit dual nationality, however, so check with your country of origin first in case you have to revoke your citizenship to gain British citizenship.
Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions
Applying for a visa to the UK can be challenging, especially if you try to do it alone. So it can be useful for you to recruit the assistance of an immigration specialist agency to help, as they have the expertise needed to help you gather all of the right documents and complete your application on time, with a higher chance of success.
At Synergy Immigration Solutions, we have a team of immigration experts ready to help anyone with their individual case to ensure the best outcome from their application. Contact us now to find out how we can help you.