Settling down in the UK can be a great thing, whether you found work and started a new life in Britain or fell in love and moved in with your partner. But there are aspects of our old lives that we miss, particularly our families. Bringing your family members to the UK with you can be complicated if they want to stay for more than 6 months or will struggle with any visa application themselves. So let’s look at a few basic details so you can bring your parents to the UK for a visit.
Applying for UK Visas
Unless you’re a British or Commonwealth citizen or an Irish citizen, you will need to apply for a visa if you plan to stay in the UK for more than 6 months. If you are a citizen of the EU, EEA or USA, you will not usually need to apply for a visa to stay in the UK for less than 6 months, however, you must still meet the conditions of the Standard Visitor Visa. All other foreign nationals will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa to stay in the UK for up to 6 months, or a different kind of visa to stay for more than 6 months.
When applying for any UK visa, you must apply online, and it must be the person obtaining the visa who applies. The application must be submitted with all of the relevant and valid documents for the application to be considered. If the applicant has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from using the computer, or if they do not have internet access, a third party may assist with the application.
Any applicant with a criminal history of serious crimes or immigration crimes may be refused a visa or entry to the UK if they are considered a threat to British society. If you have a criminal record and are from the EU, EEA or USA, you should apply for a visa to avoid being refused entry at the UK border.
Visitor Visa Requirements
Your parents, therefore, must be from the EU, EEA or USA if they are to enter the UK without a visa for a visit of less than 6 months or have Irish or British citizenship. If they are not a citizen of any of these countries, they must apply for a Standard Visitor Visa for a visit of less than 6 months.
To obtain the Standard Visitor Visa, your parents will need to demonstrate they have, or have access to:
- sufficient funds to cover the length of their stay
- suitable accommodation for their entire stay
You can help your parents’ application with an invitation letter providing evidence that you have enough room for them to stay with you in your abode, and if necessary, provide financial statements to attest that you will cover their finances while they stay with you in the UK. If they will not stay with you, they will need to provide evidence of accommodation through hotel reservations, for example.
They must also prove their intent to leave the UK at the end of their trip, i.e. by showing their onward journey ticket or a work contract starting elsewhere.
Once in the UK, they cannot work, get married or claim public funds.
If your parents wish to visit you in the UK for more than 6 months in one go, or regularly, they might be able to apply for a Family Visa instead.
Family Visa Requirements
There are four types of Family Visas for non-UK residents to join family members living permanently in the UK. These are:
- Partner or Spouse Visa
- Parent Visa
- Child Dependent Visa
- Adult Dependant Relative Visa
To apply for any Family Visa, the applicant must pay the application fee as well as meet a number of eligibility requirements, including financial requirements to cover their and any dependent’s living costs as well as sufficient knowledge of the English language.
For a Parent Visa, the applicant must also prove:
- Their child is a British resident
- Their child was under 18 when the application first began
- Their child is under 18 or not living independently, i.e. married, in a civil partnership or living away from a guardian
- Their child lives with them or in an educational facility such as a boarding school
The applicant for a UK Parent Visa must also prove either:
- They take an active role in their child’s upbringing, this can be in the form of letters from the child’s school, social worker or any other relevant official body
- They intend to take an active role in their child’s upbringing, i.e. a letter from a solicitor signed by the applicant and other parent declaring the right and intent to care for the child
If the application is successful, the applicant will be given a temporary residency permit that gives them the right to remain in the UK until it expires, unless they extend the visa.
Can You Switch to a Family Visa?
If your parents have come to visit you in the UK on a Visitor Visa but would like to stay for longer than the given 6 months, they cannot switch to a Family Visa from the UK. Instead, they would have to leave the UK – as agreed when they obtained the Visitor Visa, and apply to return to the UK on a Parent Visa, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.
If your parents are in the UK on Work or Study Visas, they may switch to a Parent Visa as long as they can prove they participate or will participate actively in your upbringing. However, if their partner is a British resident, they must apply for a Partner Visa instead.
If Your Parents are Elderly or You’re Over 18
If your parents don’t meet the criteria for the Parent Visa because you’re over 18, they will have their Parent Visa application rejected. However, if your parents are elderly or disabled and cannot take care of themselves, it’s possible for them to apply for an Adult Dependant Relative Visa instead.
For their Adult Dependant Relative Visa to be successful, they must be able to prove:
- They have a medical condition that means they require long-term care
- They cannot receive the necessary care in their home country due to financial reasons or lack of accessibility
- Their relative in the UK will provide necessary care for them for the duration of their stay
- They have access to sufficient funds to cover their stay for their first 5 years in the UK
If successful, the applicant will be given permanent residency in the UK so that they may live indefinitely with their UK relative who will provide care for them.
What You Can and Can’t Do in the UK on a Family Visa
When in the UK on any of the Family Visas, successful applicants may live, work and study in the UK for the duration of their visa. While the Adult Dependant Relative Visa grants permission to stay for as long as the sponsor i.e. the UK resident, the Parent Visa will expire, usually after the first 2 years and 9 months. However, Family Visas can be extended indefinitely.
So, if your child was under 18 when you were first granted your Parent Visa, you may still extend your visa even if your child is now over 18 or living independently. For the second application for Family Visas, applicants are usually granted 2 years and 6 months. However, after a total of 5 years living legally in the UK, they will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain, otherwise known as permanent residency, or settlement.
If at any point whilst in the UK the visa holder fails to meet the terms of their visa or commits a serious crime, they can have their visa withdrawn and will be required to leave the UK.
Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions
Since there are so many eligibility requirements and documents to gather for each visa application, applying for a UK visa can be daunting. That’s why Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help! Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you!