Whether you move to the UK and miss your family or you simply want to help some family members get more opportunities in life, there are plenty of reasons to want to bring relatives to the UK. However, there are unfortunately plenty of restrictions in place. The Conservative government have chosen a tough stance on immigration so many previous routes to the UK have been removed, while others have been adjusted so that they are more difficult to obtain.
Family visas are a group of visas that permit certain UK residents to bring specific family members to the UK. In most cases you can only bring your immediate relatives such as your partner or children, however, there are some exceptions for those with long-term healthcare needs.
Let’s take a look at how you might be able to bring your niece to the UK permanently.
Which Family Members You Can Bring to the UK
To bring family members to the UK with you or to join you later, you’ll need to be an eligible sponsor for the visa type. You can bring family on some work permits, some student visas if you’re conducting a postgraduate research course in the UK, and with family visas.
The most common route is by choosing a Family visa. These include:
- Partner or Spouse visa
- Parent visa
- Child Dependent visa
- Adult Dependant Relative visa
Therefore, in most cases, you cannot bring your brother, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins or other extended relatives to the UK unless they qualify as an adult dependant relative. With work permits and student visas, you can also only bring your immediate family such as children and partners.
Information on Family Visas
Family visas are not possible to obtain for extended family, however, they remain a great option if you wish to bring your close family to the UK to join you. For short-term visits, most foreign visitors to the UK can obtain a Standard Visitor visa, which allows them to stay in the UK for up to 6 months, provided they have suitable accommodation and sufficient funds for their stay. You cannot switch from a visitor visa to a Family visa, so anyone entering the UK on a visitor visa must show their intent to leave at the end of their trip and apply for any new UK visas from their home country.
Like the visitor visa, the sponsor can assist with the applicant’s application by writing an invitation letter with supporting documents to demonstrate where the relative will stay and how they will be financially supported during their stay in the UK. Applications for Family visas must be submitted online and after the application fee is paid, they will take up to 24 weeks to process. Successful applicants can live, work and study in the UK for the duration of their family visa; for most Family visas, applicants will be granted up to 2 years and 9 months on their first application. They can be extended indefinitely by submitting online applications for renewal.
Adult Dependant Relative visas are granted for the same length of time as the sponsor so that they can be properly cared for while staying with their relative in the UK. However, even for the Adult Dependent Relative visa, not all famly members can apply.
Adult Dependant Relative Visa Requirements
To apply for an Adult Dependent Relative visa, you must be:
- A parent aged 18 years or over
- A grandparent
- A brother or sister aged 18 years or over
- A son or daughter aged 18 years or over
Therefore, you cannot bring your niece to the UK as an adult dependant relative. Any other family members you wish to bring to the UK as dependent relatives, must meet many other requirements that show they have a medical condition or illness that prevents them living independently and requires long-term care from their relative in the UK, the sponsor.
Who is Eligible to Sponsor Family Visas
To be eligible to sponsor Family visas for the UK, you need to have either:
- Irish or British citizenship
- Permanent residency or settled status
- Protected status
- Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
Each of these rights to live in the UK grant the individual indefinite leave to remain in the UK which allows them to become a sponsor for Family visas.
So how can you bring your niece to the UK? The last possible option is if you work in a company that is elgiible to sponsor work visas and she obtains a valid work permit to come to work for your company. The permit must be issued on merit, however, and not show signs of nepotism.
Who Can Sponsor Work Visas?
To sponsor a work visa, your business must be working in an industry that is permitted to employ foreign nationals, and have a department dedicated to foreign work permits and monitoring each foreign employee. Therefore, each foreign worker must be applying to work as:
- a skilled worker
- a health or care worker
- a worker on a Global Business Mobility visa
- a scale-up worker
- a worker on a government-authorised exchange
- a seasonal worker
- an International Sportsperson
- a worker on an international agreement
- a creative worker
- a charity worker
- a religious worker
A sponsorship licence lasts for four years unless it is revoked at any point if the business fails to comply with the terms of the sponsorship licence. Therefore, after four years, your foreign employee must update their work permit to continue living and working in the UK.
Who is Eligible for UK Permanent Residence
Even in the case that you bring your niece to the UK by sponsoring her work visa, she will not be automatically guaranteed permanent residence in the UK. To receive permanent residence, also known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR), each individual must either:
- Live in the UK for 5 years on valid visas (those that last more than 6 months)
- Live in the UK for 2 years on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Investor Visa
- Live in the UK for 3 years on an Innovator Founder Visa or Global Talent Visa
Permanent residence allows individuals to live, work and study indefinitely in the UK as well as leave and reenter the country as they please. This is not the same as British citizenship, which grants individuals the same rights as British nationals i.e. they may also claim public funds and apply for a British passport.
To gain permanent residence, applicants must submit many documents with their online application. There is no list of documents needed as it changes according to which visa you currently have in the UK. However, all applicants between the ages of 19 and 64 must:
- Provide proof of having taken and passed the Life in the UK test about British culture and values
- Provide proof of the applicant’s English language comprehension at B1 or equivalent level, taken by a recognised body, or with a degree taught or researched in English
Applicants aged 18 or under or 65 or over do not have to provide evidence of their English language skills nor take the Life in the UK test.
If you are currently in the UK on a Family Visa, you must also:
- Prove your genuine and existing relationship with the British resident (your visa sponsor)
- Prove you live with the UK sponsor
- Provide proof of address
- Prove you have sufficient funds to support and house yourself and any dependents
Once you have received your permanent residence permit, you can remain in the UK indefinitely. You will also be eligible to apply for British citizenship after one year.
Need Visa Assistance? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions!
Synergy Immigration Solutions has a team of UK visa experts ready to help every individual with their application. If you want to apply for a visa for the UK, contact us today to learn how we can help you.