If you’re visiting your family member in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa, you can only stay for up to 6 months at one time. So if you want to stay longer, or even live in the UK with your family member, you’ll need to leave the country in order to apply for a different visa type to ensure you can return to the UK.
There are a couple of options for visas you can apply for to return to the UK, including Family Visas. However, Family Visas are only for certain immediate family members and there are numerous conditions for you and your family member in the UK for you to receive a Family Visa, as well as plenty of documents you need to be able to apply.
Let’s look at how to get a Family Visa in more detail.
About Visitor Visas
Anyone visiting the UK for up to 6 months for whatever activity, excluding paid work can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. However, there are some conditions to have your visa approved.
For a Standard Visitor Visa, you must:
- Show evidence that you’ll leave the UK
- Show evidence of sufficient finances to cover your visit as well as any dependents
- Show evidence of sufficient finances to leave the UK
- Not live in the UK for an extended time on repeated Visitor Visas
You can attend courses or take part in voluntary work while in the UK, however, if this is your intention when you travel to the UK, you will need to show evidence of course dates, contracts or successful applications – whichever applies to your circumstances.
EEA or EU citizens do not need a visa to travel to the UK for less than 6 months and can enjoy the same freedoms and restrictions as other nationals with Visitor Visas. Since you need to show your intention to leave the UK when you apply, you cannot switch to a different visa while in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa.
About Family Visas
Family Visas give temporary residency to foreign nationals in the UK for up to 5 years, although usually up to 2 years and 9 months for the first application. They can then be extended indefinitely, although application fees must be paid each time.
To apply for a Family Visa, you need a family member in the UK who has either:
- British or Irish citizenship
- Permanent residency (ILR or settled status)
- Protected status in the UK (e.g. a refugee or asylum seeker)
- A Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
This person is then referred to as the sponsor, although they do not need to request the visa for their family member or provide financial support unless the applicant requires it to meet the financial requirements of the visa.
With a Family Visa, the applicant can also live, work and study in the UK for the length of their visa. However, not all family members can apply for Family Visas.
The four types of Family Visa are:
- Partner or Spouse Visa
- Parent Visa
- Child Dependent Visa
- Adult Dependant Relative Visa
As well as providing the necessary documents, the applicants must fulfil certain criteria to be eligible for each type of Family Visa.
Eligibility Requirements for Family Visas
To be eligible for the Partner or Spouse Visa, you must be married or in a civil partnership, or a relationship with a person living legally in the UK for at least 2 years and intend to get married or enter a civil partnership within 6 months of entering the UK.
For a Parent Visa, your child must be under 18 and not living independently i.e. married or working full-time to be eligible. You must also show your intention to live with your child unless they are living in an education facility, and show you will care for your child.
To apply for a Child Dependent Visa, you must be under 18 or not living independently and show your intention to live with your parent in the UK as well as why this is necessary for you.
The Adult Dependant Relative Visa is for family members who are over 18 and require care for a mental or physical disability from the person who is resident in the UK. They do not need to be an immediate family member but must be able to prove their relationship with the sponsor as well as why their care in the UK is necessary.
Switching to a Family Visa
While you’re in the UK on a valid visa, you can start an application to switch to a different kind of visa if your circumstances change or you wish to stay longer and meet the eligibility requirements. So if you have been staying with an immediate family member, either a partner, spouse, child under 18, parent if you’re under 18 or a relative you require care from while on a valid visa, you can easily switch to a Family Visa while in the UK.
Standard Visitor Visas are only temporary and aren’t given for more than 6 months, so you cannot switch from this visa to a Family Visa.
Applying for a Family Visa whilst in the UK can take up to 8 weeks to receive a response from the Home Office and you must have permission to stay during the application process. So before you start your application to switch to a Family Visa, you must ensure you have sufficient time left on your current visa. If you do not receive a response before your visa expires, you will be required to leave the country and your application will be considered withdrawn. You will not receive a refund of the application fee if it’s already being considered, and you will have to start the application again from abroad.
If you don’t have enough time left, you can pay for the priority service which costs £1000 and ensures you will receive a response on your application within two working days, provided you have met all of the application requirements and submitted all the necessary evidence.
What Documents You’ll Need
To apply for a Family Visa you will need to provide the following documents:
- A passport and photo ID for both the applicant and family member in the UK
- 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. both names on housing contracts or shared bills
- Proof of suitable accommodation ready for your arrival in the UK
- Proof of English language skills (only for those aged 18 to 65)
- Proof of sufficient finances e.g. bank account statement or work contract showing regular payment
- Proof of negative tuberculosis test result if the applicant has lived in one of the government’s listed countries
- 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
As well as these documents, you may have to provide additional evidence for your specific circumstances, depending on the visa you’re applying for. For example, when applying for an Adult Dependant Relative Visa, you will need medical evidence proving you need care from your relative in the UK.
If you are switching to a Parent Visa, you’ll need court documents showing your intention to share custody of your child, or letters from your child’s school or local councillor demonstrating your active role in their care, for example.
If Your Application is Successful
Once you have submitted your application, the Home Office will consider your application and write to you within the allotted time to tell you of their decision. If your application is successful, you will be required to visit your nearest embassy to collect your residency permit. If you have not provided a biometric photo and your fingerprints during your application, you will be asked to attend an appointment at an embassy to have this information taken, so your residency permit can be issued.
You then have permissionto stay in the UK until your visa expires. If you have an Adult Dependant Relative Visa, the length of your permitted stay is the same as the length of your sponsor’s stay.
Get Visa Help from Synergy Immigration Solutions
Applying for visas isn’t easy, which is why Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help! Contact us today to speak to our team of immigration experts about your individual case and increase the chances of obtaining your visa!