If you want to join a close family member in the UK who has settled status, permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain, you can apply for a Family Visa. Which family visa you apply for depends on what relation you have to your relative in the UK, also known as your sponsor, and this also affects how long you’re able to stay in the UK.
If your application is successful and you receive your Family Visa, you have the right to work, study, use the NHS and buy or rent a property to live in. Let’s look at the other restrictions of a Family Visa so you know exactly what it is before you apply.
What Is a Family Visa?
A Family Visa is a broader term for four different kinds of visas for people applying to join a close relative in the UK.
Family Visas include:
- A Partner or Spouse Visa
- A Parent Visa
- A Child Dependant Visa
- An Adult Dependant Relative Visa
It is also possible to apply for a Family Visa if you are separated from your partner due to domestic abuse, or if they have died. Otherwise, the only family members who can apply are partners, parents, dependent children and dependent adults who require care from their relatives in the UK. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren and other extended family cannot apply to join a family in the UK unless they are adult dependents who require care from a UK-based relative.
If your grandparents were British citizens or born in a former Commonwealth country or Zimbabwe, you can apply for a UK Ancestry Visa to gain temporary residence in the UK.
Family Visas do not grant permanent residence in the UK; parents and partners may stay for 2 years and 9 months on a Family Visa, which can be extended up to 2 years and 6 months, while children and dependent adults can stay as long as their relative can stay in the UK. Once in the UK on a family visa, you can rent or buy property, use the National Health Services, work, study and leave and return to the UK as desired.
Does an EU Citizen Need a UK Visa?
Although the UK was never part of the Schengen Area, there are some relaxed rules for people travelling to the UK from EU and EEA countries and Switzerland. If you’re from one of these countries and plan to stay in the UK for less than 6 months for tourism or visiting friends or family, you do not need a visa. You will only need a valid passport covering the length of your stay, and you may have to prove the intentions of your visit and that you have sufficient funds to cover the costs of your stay.
If you want to join your family permanently in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a Family Visa; to work in the UK for longer than 6 months, you’ll also need to apply for a Work Visa.
What Are the Family Visa Requirements?
To join a family member in the UK, they first must be a British citizen, resident or have permanent residency in the UK to sponsor your application. If you’re joining a family member as a child or adult dependent, your family member in the UK may also need to meet financial requirements, including earning more than £18,600 a year before tax, plus extra for each child.
The financial requirements to meet if you’re bringing children to the UK are an income over £18,600 a year, and:
- £3,800 for one child
- £2,400 for each other child
If you have savings over £16,000, you may be able to still meet the financial requirements even if your income is lower than necessary.
Unless the family member coming to the UK is a child, over 64 or has a mental or physical disability that prevents them from meeting them, there are other eligibility requirements that each applicant must meet before starting their application for a Family Visa.
- A valid passport for the duration of the proposed stay in the UK
- Biometric photographs and fingerprints
- Proof of relationship between the applicant and UK resident (documents cannot be over 4 years old)
- Proof of suitable accommodation in the UK
- Proof of A1-standard English (unless from a recognised English-speaking country or having completed studies in English)
- Proof of sufficient finances to cover your stay in the UK
- Tuberculosis vaccination record or test results if applicable
- Details of any criminal history
- Details of any previous immigration applications made
- Certified translation of any supporting documents that are not in English or Welsh. This should include confirmation of the eligibility of the translator
- Photo page and any visa or entry stamps in previous passports
- Any other supporting documents that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has asked for
Does a Family Visa Give You Permanent Residency?
If you’re applying for a Partner or Spouse Visa, or a Parent Visa, you will only receive a visa valid for up to 2 years and 9 months. Each time you extend your visa, it will be extended up to 2 years and 6 months. This is considered to be a temporary residency, as your residency permit will have an expiry date. Although you will be able to work, study, come and go, and use the NHS with a temporary residency permit such as a Family Visa, you will not be permitted to claim most governmental benefits, and you will not have the right to reside permanently in the UK.
However, if you are applying as an Adult Dependant Relative, you can stay in the UK indefinitely. Similarly, if you are applying as a child and were born in the UK, you have the same right to remain in the UK as your parent. If you were born outside the UK, you and your parent must meet other requirements.
You can apply for permanent residency, also known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR), or settled status, once you have been living in the UK for at least 5 years on a valid visa.
Does a Family Visa Lead to British Citizenship?
You can apply for British citizenship once you have been living in the UK for 10 years on a valid visa, or 5 years on a valid visa, and have had indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months. So, for example, if you are the spouse of a British resident and have been in the UK for 2 years and 9 months, you can extend your visa another 2 years and 6 months. Towards your second visa’s expiration date, you can then apply for ILR as you have been living legally in the UK for 5 years. After one year of having permanent residency, you can then apply for British citizenship.
Having British citizenship does not guarantee you a British passport, but you are eligible to apply for one. Check what your home country’s policy is on dual nationality before you apply for British citizenship, as you may have to renounce your rights in your country of origin to be a British citizen. You can leave and reenter the UK as you please, however, your residency can be revoked if you have refugee or protected status in the UK and return to the country you have fled.
How Synergy Immigration Solutions Can Help
If it’s not already clear, visa application processes can be very complicated, knowing which visa you’re eligible for, what documents you need, how much money you have to have and much more. Although the government has tried to make the process simple with online resources and applications, it can still be hard to go through the process alone.
Synergy Immigration Solutions was created to help people through this process. With our team of experts ready to guide individuals through their visa application as well as families, and help employers become sponsors, we’ve got the knowledge and experience to help you get your UK visa.