How Long Can I Stay in the UK on a Family Visa?
How long you can stay in the UK on a family visa depends entirely on which visa you apply for. Most family visas grant permission to reside in the UK for up to 2 years and 9 months and can be extended up to 2 years and 6 months.
However, if you’re a child or adult who requires care from a family member in the UK, how long you can stay is dependent on the residence permit your family member in the UK has. If you’re applying as a descendant of a British citizen from a commonwealth country, British Overseas Territory or Zimbabwe, you’ll be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years.
Each family visa has slightly different requirements, eligibility and fee; let’s look at each one more closely.
What Are Family Visas?
The UK government has set out 5 different visas under the bracket term “family visa”:
- Spouse Visa
- UK Parent Visa
- Child Dependant Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Adult Dependant Relative Visa
For a Partner or Spouse Visa, you can apply if you are married or in a civil partnership with a legal resident of the UK and will need to provide your marriage or union certificate upon your application. You can also apply as fiancés, fiancées or proposed civil partners, however, this visa will only permit you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months, and you must prove your intention to get married within those 6 months. Afterwards, you can then apply for a Spouse Visa.
To obtain any of these visas, you must meet the eligibility requirements for the visa you’re applying for. If you’re not sure, you can check the requirements on the UK government website, or, if the idea of applying for a UK visa is already making you nervous, simply contact Synergy Immigration Solutions who can guide you through the whole visa process.
Who Can Apply for a UK Family Visa?
As indicated by the name of each family visa, you have to be a spouse to apply for a spouse visa, a parent to apply for a parent visa, a child to apply for a child visa and so on. However, each applicant must have a family member who is a resident of the UK. Not all visas grant residency; temporary work and student visas do not allow for family members to join them in the UK. So you should check with your family member what kind of visa they have before you start your application.
While most of the visas are self-explanatory, to apply to be a dependent adult in the UK, your relative in the UK must be a permanent resident of the UK and be either your parent, grandchild, sibling or child. Each visa also has many other requirements.
What Are the Requirements for Family Visas?
For each family visa, you’re required to prove you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and that you have enough funds available to support yourself and any dependants in the UK for the duration of your stay.
If you don’t have funds or you are the dependant, you need to prove that someone will be able to provide for you. When applying, the money should remain untouched in your account for at least one month so the Home Office can see it’s your money and will still be accessible once your visa has been granted. This is known as the 28-day rule.
You don’t need to prove your English language skills if:
- You’re a child
- You’re an adult dependant
- You’re from a commonwealth country
- You’re over 65
- You have an illness or disability preventing you from meeting this requirement
- You’re extending your visa
For every other visa, you’ll be required to meet more specific requirements and provide evidence from a reliable source, such as governmental letters, banking information, and letters from landlords, lawyers, doctors or teachers. Travel tickets and photographs aren’t considered strong evidence and shouldn’t be submitted. All of your evidence should be dated from within the last 4 years to be relevant.
Specific Requirements for Each Family Visa
For a Spouse visa, you need either:
- A marriage or civil union certificate
- To prove you’ve been living together for at least 2 years
- To prove you’re engaged and will marry or have a civil union within 6 months in the UK
For a Parent visa, you need to prove:
- Your child is under 18 or not independent (married, have children or live away from home)
- You are the sole parent, or you share the parenting with a person who resides permanently in the UK who is not your partner
- You’re an active parent (are involved in your child’s life and upbringing)
For a Child Dependant visa, you must be either:
- Under 18 and born in the UK
- Over 18 and not independent
- Born outside of the UK but previously had a UK Family Visa when under 18
For an Adult Dependant visa, you must:
- Need long-term care from a close family member to do everyday tasks because of an illness, disability or age
- Be over 18
- Not be able to access relevant or appropriate care in your home or resident country
For a UK Ancestry Visa, you must:
- Be a British Overseas National or Citizen, a Commonwealth Citizen or from Zimbabwe
- Prove one of your grandparents was born in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man (It doesn’t matter if you or your parents were adopted or if your parents or grandparents weren’t married, but you can’t claim ancestry through a step-parent)
Does a Family Visa Give You Permanent Residency?
Obtaining a Family Visa for the UK has many benefits, not least being able to live and work in the UK for as long as your visa is valid. However, having a Family Visa doesn’t mean you have permanent residence in the UK. Each Family Visa is given up to 2 years and 9 months, or according to your family member’s visa if you’re applying as a dependant, but you can extend your visa as many times as you like once you’re in the UK.
Excluding the 6 months you may have lived in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed partner, you can apply to settle in the UK after living there for at least 5 years on a valid visa. Although you may not have spent more than 180 days (around 6 months) outside of the UK in any 12-month period.
What’s the Difference Between Settlement, Residency and Citizenship?
As if visa applications weren’t complicated enough, we find a lot of unusual terminology across governmental websites that make the process a lot more confusing. Essentially, the visas granted for you to live and work temporarily in the UK i.e. with an end or exit date, grant temporary residency in the UK, so you can leave and return to the UK as you please.
Settlement, permanent residency and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) all mean the same thing. With ILR, you can live and work in the UK indefinitely. You can apply to reside permanently in the UK after you’ve lived there for at least 5 years on specific visas. Once you have permanent residency in the UK, you can then apply for British Citizenship.
British Citizenship allows you the same rights as any other British Citizen: you can travel with a British passport, use the National Health Service without paying the Immigration Health Surcharge in advance, and vote in parliamentary elections. However, you must first prove your English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic fluency, be over 18, pass the “Life in the UK” test about British culture and history, show your intention to continue living in the UK, and not have committed any serious crimes or immigration-related offences.
Need Help Applying for a UK Visa?
Look no further than Synergy Immigration Solutions! Our expert team knows the UK immigration process inside out, so we can help you with your visa application, regardless of which you’re applying for. Contact us now so you can